Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Man from the Machine

I came across this quote on the Distributist Review, and I thought it was particularly relevant to the topic of my blog: 
"Once you separate the man from the machine the man is useless, whereas the true craftsman can make things almost out of nothing. We want a population of people who can make things out of next to nothing, rather than a population of people who need an elaborate mechanical structure before they can start doing anything at all." - K.L. Kenrick


Dave said...

But what about this quote from philosopher Max More of the Extropy Institute?:

"Transhumanism is a class of philosophies that seek to guide us towards a posthuman condition. Transhumanism shares many elements of humanism, including a respect for reason and science, a commitment to progress, and a valuing of human (or transhuman) existence in this life. […] Transhumanism differs from humanism in recognizing and anticipating the radical alterations in the nature and possibilities of our lives resulting from various sciences and technologies […]."

Peter McCombs said...

Max More's grasp of humanism is informed only by the secular variety which can hardly be called "humanism" at all. A valuing of human existence in this life? These people don't even allow themselves the luxury of believing in fairy tales.

Transhumanists remove themselves further from meaningful human existence, like many religionists, by placing supreme value on things to come and things that are not. They look forward to a rapturous singularity where the machine mystically subsumes all of human consciousness.

A world with no disease, suffering, or death is a nirvana--an empty place where there is no true existence. It is the complete opposite of humanism, which must be fully invested in the human condition to have any meaning at all. We are only conscious of our enjoyment of life because some of the time there is no enjoyment.

Dave said...

Ooh, nice one.

I hadn't thought about that -- and it's very true of humanism, from my meager grasp of it that mainly comes from its influence on Greek and Roman art.

It's also true that transhumanists place value on something that doesn't exist yet, or may never exist -- I guess it's their way of trying to build a stairway to heaven. With technology, however, at least there's a conceivable, practical way to attain the desired outcome. Maybe building a tower into heaven seemed just as conceivable and practical to the Babylonians. Maybe humanity is still building the stairway, only now it's become much more complex.

I think it's possible for humanity to succeed in the endeavor -- possibly only to discover it has penetrated just a single, thin layer among infinite layers and complexity.

Maybe there's all sorts of ways to heaven, or to God. There's the path of saints, and the path of philosophers, and the path of earnest faith and hope, and the path of materialistic ingenuity and mastery.