Review of Metaphysics 22 (3):569-569 (1969)

Abstract
Unless the title is a McLuhanesque play on words--which Finkelstein would never allow himself--the book is mistitled, for Finkelstein dwells almost exclusively on what he considers to be the nonsense of McLuhan. Writing with all the venom of an anti-smut campaigner whose moral principles are threatened because they are too weak and too inflexible, Finkelstein wages his polemics against McLuhan in an effort to discredit him and expose him as a false prophet. What nettles Finkelstein most is that McLuhan, a professor--a guardian of truth and goodness--should be so irresponsible as to fail to denunciate T.V. commercials, Madison avenue mind-manipulators, T.V.'s causing the atrophy of the ability to read and think, and the other bogeymen of humanist dogma. How dare McLuhan, the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities at a great University, challenge the foundations of the humanities themselves? Finkelstein is at least thorough in his refusal to come to grips with what is valid in McLuhan: he does us the service of pointing out the errors in McLuhan's reading of history, in his dictum that the medium is the message, in his suggestion that media are extensions of man, and in his advocacy of media involvement. The final and the least weak chapter draws a parallel between McLuhan and Marx, showing how McLuhanism can lead to a world totalitarian monolith. We should pay Finkelstein the courtesy, however, of pointing out that there is a sense in which his criticisms, if not always valid, are at least important to keep in mind while seeking to understand McLuhan without being seduced by him.--S. O. H.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph196922340
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