Voltaire's Bastards - The Dictatorship of Reason in the West
Author: John Ralston Saul
Publisher: The Free Press
Date Published: 1992
An Uneducated and Biased Look
In John Ralston Saul's book Voltaire's Bastards he attempts to prove that mankind
has stiffled itself by attempting to control knowledge
. He claims that this is the cause of a majority of the problems in our North American society. Instead of the 21st century
being the glorious information age
, Saul sees it as a time of discontent and injustice.
The inherent problem of Saul's book is his failure to acknowledge the growing
world around him. Couple this with the fact that he uses tautological arguements
and it becomes difficult to take him seriously. He writes with intelligence
, but fails to come across as anything but an idealist with a flare for the dramatic.
In today's world (and even the "archaic
" early nineties) data is freely available. One has to but look as far as their personal computer to see it. The internet is the greatest exchange of ideas, opinions and information that humans have created. Websites exist for the sole purpose of collection as much knowledge as possible.
The notion of public libraries further this point. Vast quantities of books on every topic imaginable are available if one chooses to seek them out. By seeking these havens
of information, one can become an expert on any field that they wish.
I fail to understand his point on how becoming an expert in any field creates a "division of knowledge into feudal fiefdoms". When one allows themself to understand more, they make no divisions other then that between oneself and the ignorant. This does not neccessarily entail wisdom, but it gives one greater intellectual opportunity
The pursuit of knowledge
is the driving force of this century. Only those who choose not to seek it out claim that it is kept away from them by the powerful. Saul attemps to sway the reader with complicated words and romantic ideals, but does little more than repeart his illogicial thinking without proving his point.
Addum: I'm begging someone, anyone. If you've read this book, put a better write-up under here. Then toss me a message. I'll be extremely happy to get rid of this one. It serves only to fill a hole that's in the database. If I still had my copy of this book, I'd attempt to rewrite. But as it stands, no dice. Anyway. Thanks!