Ep.3: Postmodernism – Art, Finance, Technology and the Individual with Mark C. Taylor


Episode Summary for Postmodernism:

In this episode of Hidden Forces, host Demetri Kofinas speaks with philosopher and theologian Mark C. Taylor. Mark is Chair of the Department of Religion and Co-Director of the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life. A leading figure in debates about postmodernism, Taylor has written on topics ranging from philosophy, religion, literature, art and architecture to education, media, science, technology and economics. He has authored 30 books, among which include Journeys to Selfhood: Hegel and Kierkegaard, About Religion: Economies of Faith in Virtual Culture, Confidence Games: Money and Markets in a World without Redemption, The Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture, and my personal favorite, Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left.

Professor Taylor and I cover everything from religion, to finance, to art, to technology. Most importantly, we take this journey as individuals, exploring the paths blazed for us by Luther and his Protestant Reformation, building on the works of Ockham and Thomas Aquinas. We will learn about economic philosophers like Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek, who addressed the problems of non-linearity, information networks, and how complex systems create order from chaos. We will look at how technology for all its benefits, still leaves something to be desired. A fundamental contradiction perhaps, in its application to the human experience. Lastly, we will ask the question, what is it all for? What does it all mean? Where are we going, and why the great hurry?

Producer & Host: Demetri Kofinas
Editor & Engineer: Connor Lynch

Join the conversation on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter at @hiddenforcespod

Reading List:

Below, I have listed 40 books that I recommend for those who wish to dive deeper into the subjects discussed in my interview with Mark. Because this discussion was very broad, this list is inevitably incomplete. I would also like to give you my top choices among these books, but again, because the topics are so broad, it is difficult. I’d say that Land of Desire is probably the best book ever written on the history of Consumer Capitalism. It covers roughly the period from 1880-1930. Maxfield Parrish and Elegance in the Age of Crisis are picture books with images from the boom (Parish) and subsequently, the bust (Elegance) that followed the great transformation of American society in the early 1900’s.

The Technology of Mind and Culture books deal primarily with the effects that technology has had on the human mind, human culture and the human experience. They aren’t deeply philosophical, but they do a great job of getting the conversation started. In particular, I’d recommend Sherry’ Turkle’s book “Alone Together.” If you have any questions about this list, why I recommended any particular book, or what else I may recommend based on your query, you can send me an email at, and I will try and respond in a timely manner. Please keep your emails clear and concise.


A History of Consumer Capitalism:

LAND OF DESIRE: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture, William R. Leach
Consumerism in World History: The Global Transformation of Desire, Peter Stearns
The Waste Makers, Vance Packard
Maxfield Parrish by Coy L Ludwig
The Devil’s Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square, James Traub
Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World, Jill Jonnes
The Most Powerful Idea in the World: A Story of Steam, Industry, and Invention, William Rosen
Kellog on Branding: Chapter 3, John F. Sherry
The Medium is the Massage, Marshall McLuhan
The Mirror Makers: A History of American Advertising and Its Creators, Stephen Fox
The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, Daniel J. Boorstin
Propaganda, Edward Bernays
The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America, Leo Marx
The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline Of Leisure, Juliet Schor
The Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen
The Simple Life, Charles Wagner
Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashions of the 1930s, Patricia Mears & G. Bruce Boyer
The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: and Other Writings, Max Webber
American Theocracy, Kevin Phillips

A History of Standards and Standardization:

Time and Navigation: The Untold Story of Getting from Here to There, Andrew K. Johnston, Roger D. Connor, et al.
Control through Communication: The Rise of System in American Management, JoAnne Yates
The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century’s On-Line Pioneers, Tom Standage
Longitude, Dava Sobel

A History of the Protestant Reformation:

The Reformation: A History, Diarmaid MacCulloch
Johann Gutenberg: The Man and His Invention, Douglas Martin
The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know About Itself, Andrew Pettegree


Individualism and Economic Order, F.A. Hayek
The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism, F. A. Hayek
Ockham – Philosophical Writings: A Selection, William of Ockham
Confessions, Saint Augustine
Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings, Thomas Aquinas
Phenomenology of Spirit, G. W. F. Hegel
The Essential Kierkegaard, Søren Kierkegaard
The Present Age: On the Death of Rebellion, Søren Kierkegaard
The Gay Science, Friedrich Nietzsche

Technology of Mind and Culture:

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle
The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads, Tim Wu
The Daily You: How the New Advertising Industry Is Defining Your Identity and Your Worth, Joseph Turow
Rewiring the Real: In Conversation with William Gaddis, Richard Powers, Mark Danielewski, and Don DeLillo (Religion, Culture, and Public Life), Mark C. Taylor
iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, Gary Small
The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr
The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, Nicholas Carr