Conscientious Thinking
Making Sense in an Age of Idiot Savants

David Bosworth

Forthright commentary on the flagrant failure of our nation’s meritocracy to manage our affairs effectively


"David Bosworth’s Conscientious Thinking is the most exhilarating cultural critique I have read in a very long time. Bosworth develops his idea of the Idiot Savant into a delightfully frightening analysis of how and why our leaders in all fields are smart but seldom wise. Bosworth is one of those rare, erudite thinkers who writes beautiful, shimmering prose. His project is nothing less than to show us the limits of scientific thinking and to suggest how we might re-ethicize science and revitalize it with artistic insights and humanistic concerns."
—Kent Meyers, author of Twisted Tree

"David Bosworth is a first-rate cultural critic who brings to vivid life the full range of issues confronting us at the present moment. To read him on what has lately happened in American society is to become suddenly alert to the interpenetration of political, economic, and cultural forces and to the fact that the most important questions we face are not primarily political in nature, however they may seem in a media-saturated age. Though Bosworth operates comfortably within the discourse of the academic left, he is by no means the prisoner of an ideological constituency. In fact he writes with extraordinary grace and lucidity and calls to mind the work of earlier practitioners like Christopher Lasch, Jacques Ellul, and David Riesman, each of them notable for their cogency and for combining a devotion to understanding the past with a passion for confronting the present."
—Robert Boyers, editor, Salmagundi

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In Conscientious Thinking, David Bosworth cuts through all the noise of today’s political dysfunction and cultural wars to sound the deeper causes of our discontent. Americans are living, he argues, in a profoundly transitional era, one in which the commonsense beliefs of the first truly modern society are being undermined by the still crude but irreversible forces set loose by technology’s drastic revision of our everyday lives. He shows how this disruptive conflict between modern and post-modern modes of reasoning can be found in all advanced fields, including art, medicine, and science, and then traces its impact on our daily actions through such changes as the ways in which friends relate, money is made, crimes are committed, and mates are chosen. 

Just as feudal values had to give way to a modern worldview that more effectively contained the new social reality generated by the printed book, so must our democracy reimagine itself in ways that can domesticate—civilize rather than merely “monetize”—a post-modern scene radically transformed by our digital machines. To that end, Conscientious Thinking supplies not only the means to make sense of our contentious times but also a provisional sketch of what a desirable post-modern America might look like.

Georgia Review Books

Page count: 272 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $29.95

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David Bosworth’s fiction, poetry, and literary and cultural essays have been published in numerous journals, including The Georgia Review, AGNI Review, Salmagundi, Ploughshares, and Raritan. He 
is the author of The Demise of Virtue in Virtual America: The Moral Origins of the Great Recession, The Death of Descartes, and From My Father, Singing. A resident of Seattle, Bosworth is a professor in, and the former director of, the University of Washington’s creative writing program.