The book “Building a Bridge to the 18th Century”, with the subtitle “How the Past Can Improve Our Future” is really refreshing to read. Postman is a person who dares to take a step back and question even fundamental assumptions about progress. He does not even care about the desperate editorials/experts that try to say that we are heading the right direction, Postman discuss something much more fundamental. He asks what we are really want and in many ways he is revisiting a romantic movement where passion and feelings where more important than measurable results and logic. He does fall into the trap of simplistic criticism of technology and is a little too self-loving when he explains how little how knows about technology. I think it must be frustrating to see a world you don’t like and do not understand, so those parts can be ignored.
He’s flirt with religion however I don’t understand. That makes many of his argument vague and/or irrelevant. If he would have dared to take the book beyond religion it would have forced him to push the logic the whole way and come to conclusions in some key areas. I actually think this would have been one of the most important 20th century books if he had attempted to build his argument on enlightenment and humanism. Now the book is more inspiring than actually enlightening in the tradition I think Postman wanted us to respect.
Still the book is written in a style and tone where it is clear that Postman is serious in is urge to do what he can to help us reflect whether we have been on the wrong course for 200 years. As so many of our basic references and so many of the most significant problems have emerged during this time it is well worth taking that question serious.