Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ivan Illich

This is a very brief post to recommend Ivan Illich and his book ABC: Alphabetization of the Popular Mind

I am always surprised that so few people are familiar with Illich because his life and work are profoundly important to our development as a society and also as a species.

Reading ABC literally changed my way of thinking and of understanding the context in which I live. Why? Because it first brought to my attention that we identify and label (pre-judge) what we perceive by the linguistic symbol by which it is represented. Rather than have an unfiltered experience with the world around us, we interpret our experience (and distance ourselves from direct experience) by naming with language and mental constructs.

Illich's best known book is probably Deschooling Society and his work on health and the medical industry dramatically informed his own life and death and should be read by every US congressman and senator. The book on this topic that is currently in print is Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis, the Expropriation of Health. Another great work is Tools for Conviviality — out of print but lurking in the used sections.

Read a beautifully presented description of Illich's life and work at infed, Visit the Ivan Illich Learning Web, a bibliography of his writings with obituary references, and Jerry Brown's personal remembrance.

Read more at Utne Reader.

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