Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Illusions Of Technology

In The Abolition of Man Lewis states,
There is something that unites magic and applied science (technology) while separating both from the "wisdom" of earlier ages. For the ancients, the cardinal problem of human life had been how to conform the human soul to objective reality; and the means were knowledge, self-discipline, and virtue. For magic and applied science alike the cardinal problem is how to conform reality to the wishes of the soul; and the solution is a technique.

Peter Kreeft in his lecture, Lost in the Cosmos, points out that if we were to categorize these four things; technology, science, magic and religion, into two groups, that a quite proper grouping would be magic and technology in one group and religion and science in another. The reason being, as he gains from Lewis, is that science and religion are about conforming one's will to reality and technology and magic are about bending reality or nature to our will.

So, where does that leave our society, which Neil Postman branded a technopoly? We have become so enamored with technology that an optimistic pragmatism, where whatever "works" is what is deemed true, has become the spirit of the age. The appeal to reason, truth,natural law, religion or ethics seems passe, whether in matters of education, farming, family life, civic life, commerce, etc.. Instead what is appealed to is efficiency, convenience, entertainment and a sense of control. It is ironic that technologies which are often presented as increasing one's control, (not of ourselves of course, but of nature or other people), are most likely what one will forfeit one's control to. It is indeed a Faustian bargain.

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