The Inevitability of Technocentrism

The term “technocentrism” refers to a value systems that places a exceedingly high premium upon technology (in some variants, to the extent that it is second only to survival itself) and continuous technological development as well as the firm belief (some would even go so far as to call it a “faith”) that man should use all of his technological advancements to protect the environment. The first thing to say about technocentrism is that the ideology is implicit or explicit in nearly every facet of modern industrialized society (primarily in Western and East Asian societies), the second is that it is rarely questioned and when it is the value system is generally questioned almost exclusively by obscenely anti-humanistic philosophers. The Norwegian philosopher Lars Svendsen (who I do not necessarily lump into the anti-human camp but who, below, certainly sounds like it) writes of the subject that:

Anthropocentrism gave rise to boredom and when anthropocentrism was replaced by technocentrism boredom became even more profound.

This is precisely the kind of boring, unspecific nonsense that one might expect of anonymous online neo-Luddites who brashly decry the evils of technology even as their ill-kept fingernails scamper like harried lambs across their keyboards, yet one does not expect it from a well published and erudite university professor (least I didn’t). Anthropocentrism – defined as the philosophy that mankind should place supreme importance upon himself and his own existence and continuation (above say, supernatural entities or animals and plants, ect.) – certainly gave rise to technocentrism – though not tech itself, obviously – but technocentrism itself has not given the world over to boredom, for after all, does the robotics engineer who labors half his life to program a walking, talking robot of potent and utilitarian application look upon his creation with listless vacuity? Do those who behold it? No. This is merely a excuse for snobbish, obscurantist anti-humanists to launch into a tirade about how mankind’s “reach exceeds his grasp,” a maneuver which is generally more to do with social status signally (“Lo, I decry man’s endless hubris because I am not near so foolhardy, I am a learned man of letters who has transcended all such earthly slag and material fixations in pursuit of far loftier goals. Also – please buy my book and donate to my Patreon and be sure to give me a like and subscribe and… you know it would be really great if you could scratch out a little Amazon review. K. Thanks.”) or some other such nonsense. For it is not to be thought that this is untrue, man’s reach does indeed exceed his grasp, the tragedy of the thing is that he has no choice but to reach. In point of fact, he never did.

What I mean by this is that, regardless of the potential risk posed by relentless technological innovation (one thinks instantly of the atom bomb, grey goo and AI drones), so long as mankind’s view of himself is anthropocentric he cannot help but also be technocentric as well. Why? Because of his fellow man. This is not meant as a value judgement but merely the axiomatic observation that so long as there is a tribe of people’s whom think of themselves as such that is surrounded by other tribes, there will always be other tribes who, in totality or partiality, seek to exploit or subsume their neighbors. There is a saying popularized by the British sci-fi author, Arthur C. Clarke that: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Against eldritch powers mere mortals haven’t the faintest chance.

The question one should pose is not whether or not we (the US, that is those of us who want, as yet the US to continue, albeit in highly modified form, to be) should be technocentric (our ultimate survival as a species depends upon it for we shall not reign over the earth forever as a matter of thermodynamic principle) but rather in what way we are to be technocentric. That is to say yes and no and maybe but probably not to certain technologies, to say, just because we can does not in any way mean that we should. That should itself should be predicated upon our survival and continued expansion as opposed to the quaint Natural State of the Luddite or the Peace on Earth of the protestant-turned-greenpeace. Anything else is a pitiful bowing down before the cosmos which, like man himself, is a thing to be conquered even as it is venerated.

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