The Dynamics of Progress
Time, Method, and Measure

Samuel L. Macey


“This is a provocative juxtaposition of topics, and even professional historians could profitably reflect on their mutual relationships and implications. Interpreting rationality in terms of standardization provides a highly promising way to integrate history of science with technological, economic, and especially social and political history.”
American Historical Review

“This fascinating study of time is both a sound contribution to scholarship and a lively story that will be of interest for a wider public, a story told in refreshingly clear and jargon-free prose.”
Times News

The development of increasingly precise measurements is an essential part of what Samuel L. Macey identifies as the West’s wide-ranging eff ort to rationalize human activity—to simplify and standardize the way we work and communicate with one another. In The Dynamics of Progress, Macey examines the history of such rationalizations as they have manifested themselves. He identifies a symbiotic relationship among these different types of rationalization, demonstrating that without the rationalizing of time, weights and measures, numbers, and language, the scientific, technological, and industrial advances of the past three hundred years would have been inconceivable.

In addition to discussing rationalization in its various forms, Macey also addresses reactions against it, and closes with some observations on the future. Increasing demands for material goods have the potential for spreading wealth, but such demands strain the earth’s limited resources. How we address the challenge posed by this depletion of resources, Macey suggests, will be the ultimate test of our rationalizing powers.

Page count: 288 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $29.95

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Samuel L. Macey is an emeritus professor of English at the University of Victoria, where he was also the Dean of Graduate Studies. He is founder of the English Literary Studies Monograph Series and a former president of the International Society for the Study of Time. Among his books are Clocks and the Cosmos: Time in Western Life and Thought, Patriarchs of Time: Dualism in Saturn-Cronus, Father Time, the Watchmaker God, and Father Christmas (Georgia), Time: A Bibliographic Guide, and Encyclopedia of Time.