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The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics by Christopher Lasch

The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics was written by Christopher Lasch. Lasch was a history professor at the University of Rochester when this book was published. In The True and Only Heaven, Lasch analyzed Western civilization in general and the United States in particular. Lasch traced the decline of the United States and the massive social problems from which it suffered. In his view, this deterioration has culminated in the current lack of moral fiber and attachment to a belief in progress at any cost in the society. This somewhat harsh assessment was only part of Lasch's main focus. He carried out an in-depth exploration of the intellectual and social history of progress over the past few centuries. The author contends that major social problems have been created because progress was defined in terms of satisfying insatiable human wants. Lasch called this perpetration of the right to wants fulfillment a false value.

The title of Lasch's book was taken from a quotation in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Celestial Railroad." In the section which contains the title, Hawthorne laments society's habit of mistaking the pleasures and profits of the physical, sensual world for the true and only heaven. In the United States, ideals such as civic virtue, the need to recognize limits, meaningful work, and a higher concept of life have been sacrificed to this perverted pursuit of progress, according to Lasch.

In the introduction, Lasch wrote that neither side, left or right, wanted to admit that the society had taken a wrong turn, lost its way, and needed to recover a sense of purpose and direction. Neither side addressed the issue of limits as it pursued progress. The right planned to maintain the country's explosive standard of living at the expense of the rest of the world. Such a program would produce a number of negative outcomes: the negative impact on the environment would become so widespread that even ...

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The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics by Christopher Lasch. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:33, May 19, 2019, from