So I’m finally get around to putting together my seminar on the above topic. Here are some projected “units,” which are pretty provisional.
1. INTRODUCTION: The places where Tocqueville makes predictions: indefinite perfectibility, aristocracy of industry, the losing of our sublime faculties, soft despotism. Ben Storey on Tocqueville and technology. Solzhenitsyn’s “We have ceased to see the purpose.” The dialogue in Brave New World between the Controller and the Savage.
2. LIBERAL VISIONS: Rorty, Achieving Our Country with Madrick and Reich on saving capitalism through bigger government.
3. LIBERTARIAN TECHNO-VISIONS: Tyler Cowen, Average is Over; Brink Lindsey; Matt Ridley
4. ENHANCEMENT AND TRANSHUMANISM: Peter Thiel; Charles Rubin in criticism; Nicholas Wade, Ronald Bailey
5. DEFENDING HUMAN NATURE: Leon Kass; Wendell Berry; Ronald Dworkin, happiness as an engineering problem
6. RELATIONAL COSTS; Murray, Coming Apart; Last, What to Expect When No One Is Expecting
7. THE NEW TYRANNY? Joel Kotkin
8. CONSERVATISM: Roger Scruton; Manent vs. democracy without nations
9. SPACE TRAVEL: Hannah Arendt, Walker Percy, Carl Sagan, Tom Wolfe, Interstellar
10. DIVERSION AND DISTRACTION, INNER LIFE: Matt Crawford, Sherry Turkle
11. Yuval Levin on the fracturing of democracy
Among my questions: What’s missing? What’s a really powerful presentation of the eco-pessimistic position? What would you drop?