Chapter 2: Media as Epistemology
1. Postman opens this chapter with a clear statement of what he hopes to show in his book. What is it?
2. Postman says, “Television is at its most trivial and, therefore, most dangerous when its aspirations are high, when it presents itself as a carrier of important cultural conversations” (16). Do you agree? Why or why not?
3. Epistemology is concerned with knowledge and belief and truth. For example, we have epistemological concerns when we wonder, “What sources of knowledge can I trust? When am I justified in believing that I know the truth?” Why does Postman bring up epistemology? What does he want to show (17)?
4. Postman writes, “Whatever the original and limited context of its use may have been, a medium has the power to fly far beyond that context into new and unexpected ones. Because of the way it directs us to organize our minds and integrate our experience of the world, it imposes itself on our consciousness and social institutions in myriad forms” (18). Why is this true from a Christian perspective? What is fundamental to a Christian worldview which explains why we always think and communicate in metaphors?
5. Is it true that our media forms define truth for us (17, 18)?
6. Postman denies epistemological relativism, yet he says, “Truth, like time itself, is a product of a conversation man has with himself about and through the techniques of communication he has invented” (24). Is he consistent?
7. What is truth?
Chapters 3&4: Typographic America and The Typographic Mind
1. Postman credits the Enlightenment for the character of American thinking in the nineteenth century (47). He also says, “It is no accident that the Age of Reason was coexistent with the growth of a print culture” (51). Do you think his historical connection is appropriate?
2. Postman puts forward religion and law as examples of the essentially rational character of early American discourse, which he calls the “Age of Exposition.” He also says that advertising followed this basic model of discourse. When does he say that the change in advertising began (59)?
3. Is rational, dispassionate, abstract, and objective knowledge the best way to find the truth?