The Value of Convenience

A Genealogy of Technical Culture

By Thomas F. Tierney

Subjects: Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Science, Technology, and Society
Paperback : 9780791412442, 281 pages, December 1992
Hardcover : 9780791412435, 281 pages, January 1993

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Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Arendt, the Household, and Convenience

3. Marxist Perspectives on Consumption

4. Settling American Space


Marx's Insight
Setting America's Space in Order
Agriculture as a Limit of the Body


5. Setting Bodies in Motion

6. Weber, Protestantism, and Consumption


The Value of Weber's Argument
Luther and Calvin's Attitudes Toward Earthly Life
Worldly Asceticism and the Emergence of the Cage


7. Nietzsche and Modern Asceticism

8. Traces of Modern Asceticism


Hobbes and Mortality
Locke and Convenience
Marx and Necessity


9. The End of Death




In this volume, Tierney identifies convenience as the value of central importance to the development of modern technical culture. While revealing modern attitudes toward technology, the human body, mortality, and necessity, Tierney focuses on the cultural value of convenience and on modern attitudes which emphasize consumption rather than production of technology.

Thomas F. Tierney is Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Political Science at Concord College.


"This is a major contribution to the political theory of technology. It treats the most prosaic of concerns in the modern era, convenience, as a lens through which to explore what many would claim is the most important problem generated by the modern age—the domination of instrumental rationality and its identity with a particular kind of modern subject.

"Tierney pulls in material from a series of heterogeneous traditions in political theory and history. His treatment of the American frontier, for instance, is very clever and provocative, connecting back to the Heideggerian concern with death! Such surprises are often in this book." — Thomas L. Dumm, Amherst College