Western Culture at the American Crossroads

Conflicts over the Nature of Science and Reason

Written by Arthur Pontynen, Rod Miller

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“The erudition of the authors in the most diverse fields is impressive.” —Review of Politics


“A grand and profound reflection on the mainstream ideas of the modern West . . . It is a pleasure to read a book which returns to the classical conception of the good life as, of necessity, governed by the search for beauty and truth.” —John Carroll, author of The Wreck of Western Culture


In this sweeping cultural history of America, art historians Arthur Pontynen and Rod Miller show that our current cultural struggles result from repeated attempts to deny the qualitative foundation for culture that distinguishes civilization from barbarism.

Western Culture at the American Crossroads

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“Modern art is one long howl against the beautiful, the true, and the good, with shock tactics replacing virtuosity, and obscenity replacing insight.”

—JOHN CARROLL, from the foreword

America is experiencing a cultural malaise. As art historians Arthur Pontynen and Rod Miller show in this penetrating new book, our current cultural struggles result from repeated attempts to deny the qualitative foundation for culture that distinguishes civilization from barbarism.

Tracing American art, science, and philosophy from the colonial era to the present, Western Culture at the American Crossroads reveals how a distinctively American culture emerged and where it went wrong. Culture cannot be merely a matter of personal or group preferences; it must be dedicated to the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty. But as Pontynen and Miller skillfully chronicle, modernism and postmodernism have developed dangerously limited understandings of science and reason that do not simply limit art but actually lead to bitter conflict and violence.

The authors discuss dozens of works of art and architecture&#8212many of them featured in this beautifully illustrated work. But Western Culture at the American Crossroads in no mere art history treatise; it connects many dots in American intellectual history, demonstrating how what a culture believes relates to how it acts and what art it produces.

Standing athwart trends that reduce culture to a matter of lifestyle and “taste,” Western Culture at the American Crossroads makes a powerful case that the free and responsible pursuit of wisdom desperately needs to be renewed.

Pontynen and Miller ultimately reveal the emerging threats not only to American and Western culture but to the very possibility of culture itself.

Additional Information

Format Cloth
Pages 448
Publisher ISI Books
What They're Saying...

“An ambitious study . . . The erudition of the authors in the most diverse fields is impressive.”
Review of Politics

“To analyze the century’s love of formlessness in architecture, art, and even personal dealings, Pontynen and Miller ask with erudition and intelligence questions at the crossroads of philosophy and faith which mankind has asked throughout history. Great paradoxes show that the mind’s structure is not always adequate to answer the questions it poses and that the mind must be brought within an adequate scope of modesty. The authors have the wisdom, the experience, and the right temperament to understand that philosophy and ordinary logic are not always a sufficient weapon.”
Thomas Molnar

“A grand and profound reflection on the mainstream ideas of the modern West . . . It is a pleasure to read a book which returns to the classical conception of the good life as, of necessity, governed by the search for beauty and truth. To abandon this conception is to desecrate the reality of being born human: here is the source of Pontynen and Miller’s outrage at what has happened in Western high culture over the past half millennium.”
John Carroll, author of The Wreck of Western Culture

ISBN 1935191748
ISBN13 9781935191742
Eligible for Readers Club Discount Yes

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