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The Shape of Things: A Philosophy of Design Paperback – 29 Oct 1999

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 126 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books (29 Oct. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861890559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861890559
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 213,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


There is nothing difficult or obscure about these essays. They are as sharp and lucid as precious stones because they proceed not by argument but poetically, by metaphor, story telling and myth. Architects' Journal 'Books of the Year'

About the Author

Vilem Flusser was born in Prague in 1920. After emigrating to Brazil and then to France, he embarked on an influential career as a lecturer and writer on language, design, and communication. He died in 1991.

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Vilem Flusser was an authority in design philosophy and this book sums up his line of thought. Worth to get introduced to his universe.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x91b81a98) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9167eb10) out of 5 stars Man's fate in information society 6 Aug. 2010
By Philippe Vandenbroeck - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This slender booklet is a collection of short, late essays by the cosmopolitan thinker Vilem Flusser. Originally from the Czech Republic he fled to Brazil at the beginning of the Second World War and returned to Europe only in the early 1970s. He died in a car crash in 1991. Writing in German, Portuguese, and French, Flusser remained unpublished in English during his lifetime. In fact, the book reviewed here was the very first to be made accessible to an English readership. Meanwhile, based on as yet a very small selection of translated work, he has acquired a kind of a cultstatus with cognoscenti as an iconoclastic, clairvoyant linguistic philosopher and media theorist. Flusser's big theme is the transition from a pre-industrial to an industrial and, onwards, to an information society. In that process, spanning a mere 300 years, our relationship with our environment, increasingly populated by `non-things', by artificial intelligences and robotic machines, has been (and continuous to be) fundamentally altered. What happens when human beings morph from being productive, shape-giving artisans to abstract calculators, pressing keys on a keyboard, when our existential concerns shift from things to information? An interesting, ambiguous reciprocal dependency sets in: "the robot only does what the human being wants, but the human being can only want what the robot can do." Hence, humans become `functionaries' of the programmed tools they have created, inscribing themselves into a kind of (hopefully) benign totalitarianism governed by potentially endless but pre-programmed choice. Flusser's perspicaciousness in anticipating an emerging, virtual, omnidirectionally transparant society is admirable. Although "The Shape of Things" is a slim booklet, it is very difficult to do justice to Flusser's ideas in the space of a short review. Flusser's way of communicating complex ideas is highly idiosyncratic. His idiom is more journalistic than scholarly: he uses clear and simple language in very short, punchy essays. There are no references to other thinkers or to secondary literature. His argument is characterized by unexpected twists, linking the mundane to the exotic, relying often on clever etymological and linguistic reasoning. The style is terse, at times to the point of abruptness. Flusser is a combative thinker, not afraid to take provocative positions to tease his readers. Sometimes there is a clenched teeth kind of wittiness. This book is not a full-fledged, methodically argued `philosophy of design' but a series of elliptical, thought-provoking essays intent on redefining the debate on what makes (and keeps) us human in a world engulfed by immaterial objects and smart robots.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Geoffrey A Rhodes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this because the first essay in the book was one of my favorites, 'On the Word Design' The whole book is of a similar style-- aggressive, insightful, fresh commentary on Design, its relation to Art and Technology.
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