Abstracts for Ivan Illich

To Hell with Good Intentions (1968) Volunteers fighting poverty in Mexico are vacationing salesmen for the middle-class "American way of life".
Celebration of awareness (1970)
A collection of short essays mostly on political themes related to repression in Latin America.
A Constitution For Cultural Revolution Advocates intermediate technology in the developing nations.
Deschooling Society (1970) An analysis of the counter-productivity of modern education systems, which are a model for centralized consumer society.
Tools for Conviviality (1973)
In some respects a key text around conviviality as a guiding theme through the entire work of Ivan Illich, articulating his criticism of the role of technocracy in shaping an alienated society. Conviviality as a term borrowed from Latin-American spoken language means basically living together in a non-alienated community, as opposed to a society dominated by modern institutions relying on expertise. Modern institutions must be analysed and shown to be counter-productive on their own terms. The counter-productivity of institutions appears at well-defined historical watersheds. It is a necessary result of increased productivity, which provides the justification for these institutions in the first place.
 Energy and Equity (1973) Analysis of the counterproductivity of modern transportation systems. "Above a threshold, energy grows at the expense of equity
". Ivan Illich argues that it is essential to limit speed, if one wants equity.
Medical Nemesis (1976)
An analysis of the counter-productivity of modern health systems. Modern medicine appropriates the monopoly on health by devaluing death and suffering.
The Right to Useful Unemployment (1977) A defence of subsistence against paid and shadow work and against dominant professions imputing the need for unneeded commodities upon the citizens.
Disabling Professions (1977) A pleading against alienating expert institutions.
Toward a History of Needs (1978) An analysis of the generation of needs as the foundation of modern economy as management of scarcity.
Vernacular Values (Shadow Work) (1980) Essays for Shadow Work. Professionals have taken over things people used to do for themselves - even learning their own language.
Shadow Work
The notion of shadow work was developed by Ivan Illich to denote alienating unpaid work within a context of paid work as opposed to convivial subsistence work independent of a context of paid work.
Gender (1982) The book introduces the distinction between gender and sex and claims the repression of gender on behalf of sex in modernity. Gender denotes the polarity of feminine and masculine shaping what we call a person. Sex is the opposite: the differentiation of the feminine and masculine out of a neutral entity. Sex is a modern construct which has the purpose to make an economy of scarcity possible. Gender must be rediscovered as the realm of convivial society.
Das Recht auf Gemeinheit (1982) Collection of essays, mostly from Shadow Work.
- Über die ökumeniche Ver-Wirung (sic!)
Der Missbrauch der Ökumenie kommt von der Undifferenziertheit unseres Wortes "wir", das sowohl "ich und du" als "ich und er", "ich und sie", usw... bedeutet. Die undifferenzierte "Ver-Wirung", die Unterwerung der Vielfalt der "wir" unter ein einziges "wir" in katholische, koloniale, imperialististische etc. Formen nüzt diese Verwirrung der Sprache aus.
     The misuse of oecumenism comes from our poorly differenciated "we", meaning as well "I and thou" as "I and them", etc. This confusion (Verwirrung) of language enables "we-ification"  (Ver-Wirung) in the sense of Catholicism, colonialism, imperalism etc., the submission of the diversity of "we" under the rule of a single "we".
Silence is a Commons (1983) Essay about electronic media.
H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness (1985) Contrasts H2O as a chemical substance intended for cleaning with water as a metaphor for forgetting and remembering. Short version in Mirror of the past. "Geschriebene Sprache ... gewinnt höhere Autorität als ... flüssige, lebendige Rede" (60). "der Sprechende verfügte über keine Möglichkeit, sich die Unterscheidung zwischen Rede und Gedanke vorzustellen" (61).
Hospitality and Pain (1987)
ABC: The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind
With Barry Sanders (1987)
The genesis of literacy as a process of alienation.
The Educational enterprise in the Light of the Gospel (1988)
Posthumous Longevity (1989)
Ascesis. Introduction, etymology and bibliography (1989)
Letter to David Ramage (1989)  Essay on "corruptio optimi quae pessima", on modern institutions as the corruption of the best to the worst. "The entire set of those axiomatic assumptions that generate the mental space within which today's social concepts emerge is derived from the millennial attempt by the western church to give institutional permanence to Christian vocation."
The Shadow that the Future Throws (1989)
Declaration on Soil (1990)
Health as one's own responsibility - No, thank you! (1990) On renunciation as an answer to disempowering technique and expert rule. Included in Selbstbegrenzung (1998).
The Sad Loss of Gender (1990)
Needs (1990)
Text and University - on the idea and history of a unique institution (1991) University must free itself of scientism in order to survive the end of scientism.
With Jean Robert (1992)
In the Mirror of the Past (1992)
A collection of texts, mostly talks given between 1978 and 1990, directly or indirectly related to Ivan Illich’s favoured method of research indicated in the title: revealing current trends against the background of history, “to loosen the spell by studying how it was cast” (p. 150).

To Honor Jacques Ellul (1993)
In the Vineyard of the Text (1993)
The genesis of literacy. Short versions in In the Mirror of the past.
Brave new biocracy - Health care from womb to tomb (1994)
La perte des sens (1994) A collection of essays.
Death undefeated - From medicine to medicalisation to systematisation (1995)
We the People, KPFA With Jerry Brown (1996)
The wisdom of Leopold Kohr (1996) One of the first economists to question modernization and growth by emphasizing the importance of small scale.
Speed? What Speed? With Matthias Rieger and Sebastian Trapp (1996)
Philosophy... Artifacts... Friendship (1996)
Ivan Illich in conversation with Majid Rahnema (1997)
The Cultivation of Conspiracy (1998)
The Scopic Past and the Ethics of the Gaze With Barbara Duden (1998) From opsis, habits of the gaze, to optics, the science of physics. "We have gained lux and lost lumen. ... A person ... exercising a lumen is ... different ... than one ... receiving a lux."
The Conditional Human With Johannes Beck and Silja Samerski (1999)
L'obsession de la santé parfaite (1999) Our obsession with perfect health lets the medical system treat us as objects.
The Loudspeaker on the Tower (2000)
"The Oakland Table" Conversations Between Ivan Illich and Friends (2000)
Guarding the Eye in the Age of Show
(2001) Nepsis, the act of looking chastely and averting one’s eyes.
Rivers North of the future (2005)
Conversations with David Cayley. Texts in Spanish.

New York Review of Books:

Education Without School: How It Can Be Done, NYRB Jan 7, 1971
Commencement at the University of Puerto Rico, NYRB Oct 9, 1969 (full text for subscribers only)
Outwitting the "Developed" Countries, NYRB Nov 6, 1969 (full text for subscribers only)
Why We Must Abolish Schooling, NYRB Jul 2, 1970 (full text for subscribers only)
Schooling: The Ritual of Progress, NYRB Dec 3, 1970 (full text for subscribers only)


Hommage à Jacques Ellul
: The French critic of technology, Jacques Ellul. In French. Size 20K.
Du Lisible au Visible: The medieval philosopher Hugh of St. Victor. In French.
CBC Interview: February, 2000.
The Rise of Homo Economicus: Ivan Illich with David Cayley (3.27 minutes).
Taught Mother Tongue and Nation State: The invention of standard Spanish, the first language that people were taught to speak (3.25 minutes).

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