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<nettime> Ivan Illich
David Mandl on Mon, 9 Dec 2002 22:06:11 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Ivan Illich

Ivan Illich

A polymath and polemicist, his greatest contribution was as an
archaeologist of ideas, rather than an ideologue

Andrew Todd and Franco La Cecla
Monday December 9, 2002
The Guardian

Ivan Illich, who has died of cancer aged 76, was one of the world's great
thinkers, a polymath whose output covered vast terrains. He worked in 10
languages; he was a jet-age ascetic with few possessions; he explored Asia
and South America on foot; and his obligations to his many collaborators
led to a constant criss-crossing of the globe in the last two decades.

Best known for his polemical writings against western institutions from
the 1970s, which were easily caricatured by the right and were, equally,
disdained by the left for their attacks on the welfare state, in the last
20 years of his life he became an officially forgotten, troublesome figure
(like Noam Chomsky today in mainstream America). This position obscures
the true importance of his contribution. His critique of modernity was
founded on a deep understanding of the birth of institutions in the 13th
century, a critical period in church history which enlightened all of his
work, whether about gender, reading or materiality. He was far more
significant as an archaeologist of ideas, someone who helped us to see the
present in a truer and richer perspective, than as an ideologue.


-- Dave Mandl 
dmandl {AT} panix.com 
davem {AT} wfmu.org 

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