Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Wild Hunger by Bruce Wilshire

Wild Hunger: The Primal Roots of Modern Addiction, Bruce Wilshire. Oxford UK: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999. e-book, 337 pps.

     Wild Hunger argues that addiction rises out of humanity's primal need for connection with nature. Because we are deprived of feelings of ecstasy and oneness with other animals and life-forms, we seek false remedies in what Bruce Wilshire refers to as "scientism" and vapid consumerism. We have lost the distinction between ritual and addiction. Nature is viewed in a circular fashion. Technology is not an adequate substitute for face-to-face encounters with wilderness.

sapphoq reviews says: Bruce Wilshire is a well-qualified philosopher. His writing was technically adequate although I had difficulty grasping some of his ideas. I am not sure that there is any evidence that the etiology of addictive behaviors has anything to do with losing touch with nature or with serpent power. Even so, I appreciated much of what Wilshire has to say about the lack of connection with nature that many people suffer from in these modern times. 
     I strongly disagree with the characterization of science as an "ism". I also have had many delightful feelings connected with technology e.g. altering my digital photographs into digital art. Technology is a way for some of us to connect with others. Science is responsible for saving my life. A couple hundred years ago, the appendix attack I suffered in the eighties would have meant a death sentence. I also thrill in science because it is science that has given me a way to describe the stories that I find in the woods. Knowing the formal names of and habits of the living organisms in the woods has added immensely to my enjoyment. Science and logic are both necessary to evaluate various claims of individuals and organizations. Without the ability to figure out the accuracy of some forms of "knowledge," I would not be able to make informed decisions about issues that have come up in my adult life.
     Wilshire quotes from several renown "New Age" folks. I did not enjoy that so much. I found his insistence upon capitalizing some words to be annoying and the asterisks placed before the word "spirituality" to be irritating as all get-out. I did enjoy the quotations from Emerson and the stories about his dog.
     Highly recommended for those with more of a philosophy background than I have and for those readers who fall into the category of "admirers" of William James.
     For the rest of us, some of Wild Hunger will be interesting and some will feel a bit like chaotic strings of words.

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