Thomas Carlyle.Jan18

Thomas Carlyle.Jan18 - Reading for Monday, January 22nd,...

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Reading for Monday, January 22 nd , 2007 Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish historian, critic, and sociological writer. Written in 1829, on the wings of Britain's Industrial Revolution, "Signs of the Times" points to the growing influence of mechanization on the way people approach religion, education, art, and all other aspects of daily life. In the following essay, Carlyle discusses how machinery has purged the human consciousness of faith and spirituality. Make an effort to understand what he says since the origin of sociology is in the discontentment with capitalist modernity. Thomas Carlyle: from Signs of the Times: The "Mechanical Age" Were we required to characterise this age of ours by any single epithet, we should be tempted to call it, not an Heroical, Devotional, Philosophical, or Moral Age, but, above all others, the Mechanical Age. It is the Age of Machinery, in every outward and inward sense of that word; the age which, with its whole undivided might, forwards, teaches and practises the great art of adapting means to ends. Nothing is now done directly, or by hand; all is by rule and calculated contrivance. For the simplest operation, some helps and accompaniments, some cunning abbreviating process is in readiness. Our old modes of exertion are all discredited, and thrown aside. On every hand, the living artisan is driven from his workshop, to make room for a speedier, inanimate one. The shuttle drops from the fingers of the weaver, and falls into iron fingers that ply it faster. The sailor furls his sail, and lays down his oar; and bids a strong, unwearied servant, on vaporous wings, bear him through the waters. Men have crossed oceans by steam; the Birmingham Fire- king has visited the fabulous East; and the genius of the Cape, were there any Cameons now to sing it, has again been alarmed, and with far stranger thunders than Gamas. There is no end to machinery. Even the horse is stripped of his harness, and finds a fleet firehorse yoked in his stead. Nay, we have an artist that hatches chickens by steam; the very brood-hen is to be superseded! For all earthly, and for some unearthly purposes, we have machines and mechanic furtherances; for mincing our cabbages; for casting us into magnetic sleep. We remove mountains, and make seas our smooth highway; nothing can resist us. We war with rude Nature; and, by our resistless engines, come off always victorious, and loaded with spoils. What wonderful accessions have thus been made, and are still making, to the physical power of mankind; how much better fed, clothed, lodged and, in all outward respects, accommodated men now are, or might be, by a given quantity of labour, is a grateful reflection which forces itself on every one. What changes, too, this addition of power is 1
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introducing into the Social System; how wealth has more and more increased, and at the same time gathered itself more and more into masses, strangely altering the old relations, and increasing the distance between the rich and the poor, will be a question for Political
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course SOCIOLOGY 313 taught by Professor Shruti during the Spring '07 term at Rutgers.

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Thomas Carlyle.Jan18 - Reading for Monday, January 22nd,...

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