‘The Existential Pleasures of Engineering’.A Review.
‘The Existential Pleasures of Engineering’.A Review.

‘The Existential Pleasures of Engineering’.A Review.

‘The Existential Pleasures of Engineering’ by Samuel C.Florman
is a book about engineering and what engineers feel about their profession.In a very highly enthusiastic tone the author talks about engineering as a most basic impulse of man.He celebrates the fact that engineers have shaped the modern world and staunchly defends it against people who say it has bought more problems than solutions.

        The book starts off with detailing the rise and subsequent fall in popularity of the engineers.He calls the period between 1850 and 1950 to be the golden age of engineers.At this point of time engineers were a respected lot and people termed them as ‘benefactors of mankind’. He bought in the industrial revolution with his locomotives,electric power,steam power,mass production and bridges.After that industrial revolution life was never the same again for mankind.Things have improved dramatically for humans.It then goes on to describe the negativity that engulfed the engineering profession during the cold war when the perception of the engineering profession changed from ‘benefactors of mankind’ to ‘Prophets of doom’.One of the chief reasons for this was the Atomic Bomb.

       This negativity then led to the advent of a new type of critic of engineers called the ‘Anti technologists’ .This is described in the second part of the book.This part describes the viewpoints of the anti technologists who in their criticism have declared that man in his continuing quest of new technology has become the slave of this very technology he created for his benefit.The third and final part is the most exciting part of the book wherein the author answers the anti technologist point of views.He counter questions them and provides some thought provoking standpoints.In addition to defending the engineers from the anti technologists the author urges the engineering community to bring in a measure of sophistication to their profession and life.He urges them to move beyond their profession and bring in a bit of imagination,social concern and culture.He also calls for engineers all over the world to express their love for engineering uninhibitedly.He calls engineering fun and something that gives a ‘kick’ to a man.

       All in all this book is a must read for anybody who is even a least bit interested in engineers or engineering.The author has an infectious enthusiasm that is visible all through out the book.He celebrates engineering as something that is vital to the very existence of man.If not the whole book the first chapter of part 1 and chapter 11 of part 3 are a must read.

      On a closing note I would like the reader to look up the story of sisyphus who the author calls the symbol of the modern engineer.He says the following regarding the story of sisyphus.’We are beginning to realize that for mankind there will never be a time to rest at the top of the mountain.There will be no Arcadian age.There will always be new burdens,new problems,new failures,new beginnings.And the glory of man is to respond to his harsh fate with zest and ever renewed effort.An engineer’s work springing as it does from the most basic impulse of humanity can fill him with existential joy’


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *