Technology As Salvation

Bailey writes  “The greatest enchantment of the industrial world is the belief that it has disenchanted the world, denying the soul and Being in order to inflate the power and domination of humans in a world of objects.”      “the rational subject that sees itself in control of the machines does not acknowledge its own passions…not only  is technology a quest for self-sufficiency masked as divine absolute power, but as a product of desire, it knows no limit…

His book The Enchantment of Technology is good at unmasking what technology is and represents. Power.

Attachments

Some ideas.

Modern attachment theory is very significant. We are born into a matrix. This matrix is a “a fluid, shifting, unitary space between (usually) mother and infant, as if they were a single organism.” Our “earliest social interactions are imprinted into the biological structures that are maturing during the brain growth spurt that occurs in the first two years of human life, and therefore have far-reaching and long-enduring effects.” This situation can lead to pathology. He emphasizes this insight “that our earliest relationships, in the degree to which are they unsatisfactory, lead to a paradoxical situation in which the poor parental bond is internalized and turned into a psychic entity that compulsively seeks to reenact the situation later in life.”
The author calls these effects “mind parasites” — complexes, fixations, repetition compulsions that operate independently of our conscious will and tend to subjugate it.”

These “mind parasites” Godwin suggests, are what keep us from reaching our true potential. “the belief in these entities is often prelude to action, generally unpleasant. That is, mind parasites are projected into the outside world because they cause internal anxiety. But projecting them outward does not actually eliminate the anxiety. Rather it simply “mentalizes the environment, so that the the objective world, rather than the subjective world, is experienced as a dangerous and threatening place” What happens on an individual level parallels what happens on a group level. The book articulates interesting and insightful ideas about the prevalence of group violence in the past/present and the origin of scapegoating and group sacrifices. This is still going on today.

Appearance and Reality

The situation of the planet earth is perilous at the present moment. There are reasons for this. Individual humans have known these reasons for years. The wisest among us are talking about paradigm shift. A shift in what it means to be a human being and how this change leads to a transformation of the human relationship to each other, to the earth and all its inhabitants.

A change in human purposes, human knowledge, and goals are essential for this shift. Willis Harman covered much of this territory with his An Incomplete Guide to the Future 1976

Harman quotes Lewis Mumford at the beginning of his book. Mumford in his book the Transformation of Man suggests that there have been a half-dozen profound transformations in western history. Each one “rested on a new metaphysical and ideological base; or rather, upon deeper stirrings and institutions whose rationalized expression takes the form of a new picture of the cosmos and the nature of man.”

As I write in this blog all these ideas represent a myriad concerns. All the so-called disciplines of knowledge are involved in what is happening in the present. How we got to this moment in time is talked in many of these books. Here is a quote from Floyd W. Matson The Broken Image

…the notion of causality in nature, as he reminded us, arose originally out of a direct analogy with the self: that is, with the inner resources of will and purpose guiding the conduct of a free and responsible human being.  The early Greeks , taking note of the operations of their minds, simply projected these outward upon the world-thereby making of nature an intelligent organism.  In short, the object was regarded as a subject, the natural world was anthropomorphized…later on with the advent of modern science, nature came to be shorn of its intelligence and organicism in favor of a more congenial analogy: that of the machine….the momentum of the belief in matter, once set in motion, was not so easily confined; it soon overflowed the boundaries, and in the process the anthromorphic analogy was exactly reversed.  The human self, originally the source of explanation for the working of inanimate nature, came in the end to be explained  in the mechanical terms of natural causation.  The subject was now regarded as an object;  the human world was mechanomorphized.  

The world as machine and eventually the machine became a metaphor for the human being.

Thoughts

In the last post, I wrote “meaning and value are created in the human mind.” The mind and consciousness are related. I am conscious as I write these words. Broucek’s book Regaining Consciousness is an articulate one for elucidating this primary idea. However one (humans) imagines reality, there is a beginning primitive. Broucek writes that a primitive is not susceptible to definition. Primitives are root forms and not derived forms. Consciousness, spirit, soul, self are primitives.

A grand history of ideas is about the history of existence, consequently, it is not separate from the primitives mentioned such as spirit, consciousness.

A change is happening because the collective myths/maps/stories that are guiding humanity lead to the increasing circumstances of destruction, social pathology, of suffering in many forms.  Why?  Because they represent a limited conception of the human being, the earth and all the myriad forms of life that are embedded within. 

It starts with an image of the human being. A transformed image of the human being that transcends the limiting assumptions of the myths/maps/stories of the present is happening.

Ideas and Reality

 

This writer appreciates ideas.   Humans beings live by ideas.  These ideas become patterns of meaning.   Eventually ideas are transformed into opinions, beliefs or truth.    Ideas become maps of reality.  Many of us understand the concepts of paradigms, worldviews.  I appreciate the word Weltanschauung.  An apprehension of the world.  

Books could are written about all these ideas.  

Ideas become answers to the questions of living through myths, stories and narratives.   They answer questions such as

Why are we here?  Why am I alive?   What is the purpose and meaning of life.  What are the means of life?  What happens when a human dies?  

The variety of answers to these primary questions became the foundations of cultures, of civilizations, of society.    They give meaning and value and motivate human beings both individually and communally .  

Language and ideas are connected.  This seems obvious.  One expresses ideas through words and language.  Their are relationships between the history of words and attitudes, beliefs.      

Leo Marx  (the Machine of the Garden) speaks of how Thoreau locates

“meaning and value” in Walden, he says:

. . . it does not reside in the natural facts or in social institutions or in anything “out there,” but in consciousness.  It is a product of imaginative perception, of the analogy-perceiving, metaphor making, mythopoeic power of the human mind.”

Meaning and value are created in the human mind.    Whatever is meaningful is invisible, it is not physical.  Their are differences between  means and ends.   Ends are the answers to the questions:

Why are we here?  Why am I alive?   What is the purpose and meaning of life.  What are the means of life?  What happens when a human dies?   

 

 

 

 

 

Information and Knowledge

Information is not knowledge. The Tyranny of Light: The Temptations and The Paradoxes of the Information Society is a chapter in the book Complex Knowledge.

The advent of telecommunications has brought about the uncoupling of  space  and time and led to what Thompson (ibid. 32) calls ‘despatialized simultaneity’: it is now possible for one to experience events as simultaneous without being close to where they happen. In a society of generalized communication the world tends to be experienced as information; namely, as a collection of codified, abstract, decontextualized representations  (Lash2002). 

The advent of a society obsessed with information tends to conceive of communication in terms of what Reddy calls the “conduit metaphor’  ideas are thought to be like objects that can be sent though a channel of distribution ( a conduit) to a recipient , who recovers them in their original form.

Is all knowledge is reduced to information—if, in other words, ‘to know’means having information on the variation of certain indicators thought to capture the phenomenon at hand, our knowledge of the phenomenon itself risks becoming problematic.

 The information representing a phenomenon and the phenomenon itself are not identical- the map is not the territory.   Any phenomenon is given in a mixture of presence and absence – what is and what might be.

To sum up, the information society tempts us into thinking in an objectivist manner about the world. First, the world, social and natural alike, is thought of as consisting of items of information—decontextualized representations—and we get to know the world through layers of abstract representations about the world. This is what I have called here ‘information reductionism’. Second, information is seen through the lenses of the conduit metaphor: information is supposed to be objective and exist independently of human agents. And third, in an information-rich society social engineering tends to be the dominant form of policy-making: the world is thought to be rationally governable primarily through the collection, processing, and manipulation of the necessary information about it.

Humans and Wounds

Each post leads to other ideas. I mentioned two books that I feel offer many openings.  The two are One God Under Cosmos (Godwin) and Pushing Ultimates (Paz).  Both authors are erudite but write in a way that can be understood.  They offer compelling visions of life and the human being, but also give, in my view, insightful analysis of what keeps us from reaching this human potential.  

Godwin’s book is about four singularities: matter, life, mind and spirit.  He writes in the chapter on mind:  “…we are the only species that comes into the world with an almost infinite potential that may or may not be fulfilled.”  What keeps us from reaching this potential?  Here he writes about the new understanding about how the human mind develops, “until fairly recently, no one considered bonding and attachment to have any great significance for how the the human mind actually develops.”  Modern attachment theory is very significant.  We are born into a matrix.  This matrix is a “a fluid, shifting, unitary space between (usually) mother and infant, as if they were a single organism.”  Our “earliest social interactions are imprinted into the biological structures that are maturing during the brain growth spurt that occurs in the first two years of human life, and therefore have far-reaching and long-enduring effects.”  This situation can lead to pathology.   He emphasizes this insight “that our earliest relationships, in the degree to which are they unsatisfactory, lead to a paradoxical situation in which the poor parental bond  is internalized and turned into a psychic entity that compulsively seeks to reenact the situation later in life.”  

The author calls these effects “mind parasites” — complexes, fixations, repetition compulsions that operate independently of our conscious will and tend to subjugate it.” These “mind parasites” Godwin suggests, are what keep us from reaching our true potential.  “the belief in these entities is often prelude to action, generally unpleasant.  That is, mind parasites are projected into the outside world because they cause internal anxiety.  But projecting them outward does not actually eliminate the anxiety.  Rather it simply “mentalizes the environment, so that the the objective world, rather than the subjective world, is experienced as a dangerous and threatening place”  What happens on a individual level parallels what happens on a group level.  The book articulates interesting and insightful ideas about the prevalence of group violence in the past/present and the origin of scapegoating and group sacrifices. 

The present moment (context) is one where these dynamics are happening.

Pathology

Whatever one calls/describes our society and system today, pathological would be an apt  description.   I was reading a book Life-Force (Jean Houston) The Psycho-Historical Recovery of the Self.   In one chapter she is talking about the dynamics that brought about the dissolution of the medieval worldview.   The death of an older story and the beginning of a different story.   She mentions Thomas Berry who has suggested that the old story was functional until the fourteenth century and the coming of the Black Death that lasted until 1655 with a rampage in London.   This served as the “background from which new conceptions could more easily emerge.”    Our present context seems to be the “background from which new conceptions could easily emerge.”

 

 

Opposites

James Carse writes,

The contradiction in our relation to nature is that the more vigorously we attempt to force its agreement with our own designs the more subject we are to its indifference, the more vulnerable to its unseeing forces.

Evil is never intended as evil.  Indeed the contradiction inherent in all evil is that it originates in the desire to eliminate evil.

Erich Kahler writes,

Every principle that is carried out to its fullest implications is bound to reverse itself .

W. I. Thompson writes,

In any passionate conflict, there is a psychological exchange of characteristics.

A change is happening because the collective myths/maps/stories that are guiding humanity lead to the increasing circumstances of destruction, social pathology, of suffering in many forms.  Why?  Because they represent a limited conception of the earth and all the myriad forms of life that are embedded within.  It starts with an image of the human being.

A transformed image of the human being/ecology that transcends the limiting assumptions of the myths/maps/stories is happening.

 

 

History and Meaning

Change is happening.  Change is the way it is.  History could be the way the human being is imagined to be in relation with an ecology.   One could name the ecology the context in which life, in all the myriad forms, takes place.

Erich Kahler writes

History is happening, a particular kind of history, and the attendant whirl it generates…to become history, events must, first of all, be related to each other, form a chain, a continuous flow.   Continuity, coherence is the elementary prerequisite of history, and not only of history, but even of the simplest story.

He goes on

There is no isolated event.  Any event is connected with other events.   The connection of happenings must have some substratum, or focus, something to which it is related, somebody to whom it happens.   This is meaning.  Meaning is comprehended by a someone (a comprehending mind) that which perceives this coherence of happenings…a meaningful coherence requires a conscious mind to conceive it.

The problem of the meaning of history is the problem of the meaning of man, the problem of the meaning of a human life. We stand at the crossroads between the annihilation of the West and the unification of humanity. This is the time, if ever there was one, to raise fundamental questions. . . .