“This sweeping, inter-disciplinary book is brilliant, refreshing and bold. It asks two fundamental questions in which we should all be interested: where have the ideas of water as a `resource’ to be `managed’ for the good of society or the nation come from? And how have they driven world-wide economic development that has not infrequently done more harm than good? The answers might surprise you (spoiler alert: anthropology and philosophy had a lot to do with the formation of this paradigm). This book is perhaps most imaginative in the ways it aims to disrupt a way of thinking that has dominated the anthropocene for far too long."
—Steven C. Caton, Professor of Anthropology, Harvard University
Water is a philosophy of water that intellectually challenges the reader on many levels. Its core chapters present a fresh history of ideas in the disciplines of geology, anthropology, and others that have shaped modern water thought in the U.S. and beyond, from the late-19th century culture of Washington DC civic scholars WJ McGee and J.W. Powell to the pragmatism of 20th century water management and 21st century global water agendas for the Anthropocene. It frames and critically challenges that account with perspectives from Wittgenstein and others as a liberal philosophy of water that has become so widespread as to become what Schmidt calls “normal water.” His searching critique is not just about the philosophy of water, it contributes to that philosophy in its ideas and methods.
—James L. Wescoat, Jr. , Aga Khan Professor, MIT
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