In A Canticle for Mr. Leibowitz, what is the Walter M. Miller's position on progressivism?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is a fascinating question, as this novel presents us with a nightmare dystopian future that has already reduced mankind to almost nothing thanks to a nuclear war. In this future, the ignorance and evil of mankind again triggers an even worse holocaust that threatens to wipe humans off of the face of the earth completely. The question that lurks beneath the benign pages of this work is whether we as a race have the necessary wisdom to survive our technological sophistication.

It is interesting however that Miller never once in this work lays the blame for the disaster on technology. He states that tools and the human knowledge that created them are in themselves neutral objects without an innate leaning towards either good or bad ends. However, his key focus is not on progressivism per se, but rather what we as humans do with these tools and how we use them. It is only us and what we do with the immense power and responsibility that new forms of technology give us that can be considered to be "good" or "evil." Miller fears that there is something about mankind that innately suggests we will only use technology in a bad and evil fashion to endanger the existence of mankind. When we think of the historical context of this novel and the way it was written during the Cold War, the parallels become very clear and obvious.

 

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