Enough: Book Review


By Bill McKibben

Re-read January 2009

Bill McKibben is my favorite extreme environmentalist author. He does not disrespect people of religious inclination. In fact, at the conclusion of this book, he shows the linkage between them and environmentalists in seeking for meaning beyond technological whiz-bangery.

This book is a compendium of statements, projections and hopes of the techno-futurist researchers such as Kurzweil and Stock. Projections for germline enhancement, nanotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence leave meaning out of the equation, lead to a post-human future, to quote Fukuyama. This prospect leave McKibben cold. He thinks we should stop, not go wherever we are able to go, do anything that is possible.

His arguments stem from the nature of man, the purpose of bodies. These are philosophical and religious matters. Moral justifications given by tech’s enthusiasts boil down to giving people what they want, even if it leaves them and their offspring, if you can still call them that, inhuman. They boiled down to the imperative of evolution. McKibben hopes we are evolved enough to know that the technology cascade is a bad thing.

He believes that the greatest human achievement is striving. But that with germline engineering, everything will be pre-ordained by the engineers of this century. No striving will be authentic. He exults in limits. His opponents chafe, deny limits. He exults in family and community obligations. Hi opponents exult in individual wish-fulfillment.

I like Bill’s style. He turns a phrase. He uses metaphor and simile. He uses scenes. I, too, am concerned that al of our mechanical, electronic, computational and manipulation powers need to be employed within the context of what is valuable, worthwhile. Things that lead to true human flourishing, that fit with what man is here for are allowed. Others are dangerous and wrong. It turns out that the philosophers hold the answers, not the biologists, and electronics engineers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: