Science once had an unshakable faith in its ability to bring the forces of nature—even human nature—under control. In this wide-ranging book Anson Rabinbach examines how developments in physics, biology, medicine, psychology, politics, and art employed the metaphor of the working body as a human motor.
From nineteenth-century theories of thermodynamics and political economy to the twentieth-century ideals of Taylorism and Fordism, Rabinbach demonstrates how the utopian obsession with energy and fatigue shaped social thought across the ideological spectrum.
Anson Rabinbach is Professor in the Department of the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University and author of The Crisis of Austrian Socialism (Chicago, 1983).
"Masterfully integrating Europe-wide debates in science, philosophy, technology, economics, and social policy, Rabinbach has provided us with a profoundly original understanding of the productivist obsessions from which we are still painfully freeing ourselves. . . . A splendid example of the mutual enrichment of intellectual and social history. It goes well beyond its central concern with the 'science of work' to illuminate everything it discusses, from Marxism to the social uses of photography, from cultural decadence to the impact of the First World War."—Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley