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Philosophy Critical Theory

Once upon a Time in the West

Essays on the Politics of Thought and Imagination

by (author) Jan Zwicky

Publisher
McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
May 2023
Category
Critical Theory, Humanism
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780228017097
    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price
    $29.95
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780228017080
    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price
    $120.00
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9780228018308
    Publish Date
    May 2023
    List Price
    $29.95

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Description

Western civilization is over. So begins Jan Zwicky’s trenchant exploration of the root of global cultural and ecological collapse: a way of thinking that is also linked to some of the West’s most noted achievements.

The Renaissance merged imperial enterprise with Islamic algebra and recently recovered Greek mathematics to precipitate mechanized industry and resource extraction; these in turn made possible the growth of capitalism, the military-industrial complex, and Big Technology. Despite its self-image as objective, Zwicky argues, the West’s style of thought is not politically neutral, but intensely anthropocentric. It has led those who adopt it to regard the more-than-human world as nothing more than timber licences and drilling sites, where value is not recognized unless it is monetized. Oblivious to context and blind to big-picture thinking, it analyzes, mechanizes, digitizes, and systematizes, while rejecting empathy and compassion as distorting influences. Lyric comprehension, in Zwicky’s view, offers an alternative to this way of thinking, and she provides a wide range of examples.

Once upon a Time in the West documents how a narrow epistemological style has left Western thought blind to critical features of reality, and how the terrifying consequences of that blinkered vision are now beginning to unfold.

About the author

Jan Zwicky is an accomplished poet, philosopher and musician whose intense and vivid lyricism imbues her poetry with music and passion. Born in Calgary, Alberta, Zwicky studied at the University of Calgary and the University of Toronto before undertaking an academic career teaching philosophy at a number of North American institutions. She is also a professional musician, with an active interest in baroque performance technique. Zwicky is a prolific essayist, as well as the author of a dozen books. Her works have won her the Governor General's Award (Songs For Relinquishing the Earth, 1998) and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (Robinson's Crossing, 2004) as well as many other accolades and shortlist nominations. Zwicky lives on Quadra Island, British Columbia.

Jan Zwicky's profile page

Other titles by Jan Zwicky