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The Problem of Modern Technology

How Many Of Us Look At Technology


Technology, or the practical application of knowledge, is viewed today
in a totally revolutionary way. Many people identify modern
technology as synonymous with progress. With the advent of the
Industrial Revolution, much that was previously beyond reach became
achievable. Directly connected with such accomplishments, grew the
utopian ideal of boundless wealth. Such promised wealth became
equated with happiness. The idea that we shall be happy if we have
enough material possessions has become deeply ingrained in our
culture.
And, if technology could provide happiness, what could it not do? It is
now seen by many as having all the answers. If our society continues
to develop technology, it is on the right track and can undertake
anything. This is how many people see modern technology.
How Technology Is Affecting Us
How does technology repay such veneration?
Religion
In the religious sphere, technology generates a widespread lack of
awareness of the divine. As men regard technology as having all the
answers, the natural result is a loss of faith in and reference to
Providence. As Eric Hoffer expressed the modern mindset: Where
there is the necessary technical skill to move mountains, there is no
need for the faith that moves mountains. The Christian idea of
salvation is replaced with a mirage of terrestrial bliss to be brought
about by technology. But as T. S. Eliot said, our material advantages
merely serve to bring us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.
Society and Family
Society does not fare much better than religion at the hands of
technology. On the one hand, we see that uncontrolled technology
tends toward centralization. The large factory operates more
efficiently and productively than the small. And on the other hand,
technology offers unprecedented power to the few for controlling the
manythrough, among other things, economics, and the media. A
society devoted wholly to technology will inevitably be a centralized
one, with little responsibility or authority for the common man.

Society becomes a vast machine, a mega-machine as Erich Fromm


calls it, with men serving merely as parts in this machine. And for
men to serve efficiently in the machine, uniformity is demanded.
Thus, technology is the bed of Procrustes, but modern men, with less
foresight than their ancient predecessors, eagerly embrace it.
This uniformity is an evident fact, and the family suffers the most from
it. The family demands authority, which is incompatible with the
uniformity and functionalism prescribed by technological society. We
are always talking about being together, and yet whatever we invent
destroys the family, and makes us wild, touchless beasts feeding on
technicolor prairies and rivers. (Edward Dahlberg).
Individual
Technology has been described as the knack of so arranging the
world that we dont have to experience it. (Max Frisch). Indeed,
technological society fosters an exclusive focus on the mathematical
dimension of the world, and this leads to a loss of contact with other
and more important aspects of realitythe mysteries of nature, of
persons, of grace.
Intellectual life is neglected, as is wisdomseeing things in context.
And yet, it is our basic duty to see and think on the whole of life and
our place in it, to philosophize. This is lost to the majority of people
today. True leisure also is neglected, and is replaced by Hollywood
and Nintendo. Worst of all, there is a loss of the very ability to think,
brought about by our technologically oriented education system and
the mechanical mind set technology creates. Besides, the outlook put
forth by technology creates severe psychological disorders.
Technology has also created such problems as technological
unemployment and environmental pollution.

-4The Concrete Use Of Technology


By Revolutionary Modern Society
Up to now we have considered the relationship between mans nature
and technology. Now technology in its modern context must be
studiedhow it is being used and with what results.
Our modern world sees most human endeavors as being quite
independent from God and religion, themselves no longer the guiding

principles society lives by. Man has taken the place of God, replacing
Him as the center of all things. Parallel to this, modern science and
technology have willfully renounced any relation to higher forms of
knowledge (theology and philosophy), becoming tools for domination
rather than for the understanding of reality. In the crime is the
punishment. The very man who has refused to bow and sacrifice to
God has been in turn frequently sacrificed in the modern schema of
things.
The Church and the State have the responsibility of harmonizing
human activity with higher principles and ultimately, with God. Both
have failed to do so de facto. The Church, in spite of its unceasing
appeals to modern men, has been ignored and despised as a teacher
of mankind. The State has voluntarily reduced its role to that of
economic policing. Economics has taken up the role of religion in the
modern world. Economics ranks at the top, making our world and our
life style geared not to the perfection of mans spiritual nature, but to
the worship of the all-mighty dollar. As Francis Fukuyama has pointed
out, the unfolding of modern science and economics has had a
uniform effect on all societies that have experience it. Everywhere
there is an accelarating homogenization of all human societies,
regardless of their historical origins or cultural inheritances (e.gr. the
effects of modernization in traditional cultures like Francos Spain or
the Far East Asia, etc.).
All countries undergoing economic
modernization must increasingly resemble one another: they must
unify nationally on the basis of a centralized state, urbanize, replace
traditional forms of social organization like tribe, religion, and family
with economically rational ones based on function and efficiency, and
provide for the universal technical education of their citizens. At the
same time, such societies have become increasingly linked with one
another through global markets and the spread of a universal
consumer culture.
Technology has known no master other than the logic of technological
advancement itself and of economic profit. Technology, essentially a
means, has become an end in itself. The result has been, as Thoreau
comments, an improved means to an unimproved end. This is
wonderfully illustrated by the pen of Christopher Dawson: The
relatively poverty stricken peoples of medieval Europe erected vast
cathedrals and abbeys, but these were the expression of their
common faith and their hopes for eternity. But to-day we build
temples greater than the Egyptian pyramids or the Gothic Cathedrals
and they are dedicated to toothpaste or chewing gum or anything that
anyone wants, so long as enough people want it.

In the final analysis, our world is using technology to pull men away
from God and hence, away from the human and from reality. Ours is a
world of heroic materialism, an affirmation of the here and now that
is a screaming denial of the spiritual and of the transcendental. We
have beheaded reality, cutting off the material from the spiritual and
proclaiming the former the god of our utopia. This articles opening
quote, with its dark description of industrial society, evokes the
sentence of Scripture : unhappy are they, and their hope is among
the dead, who have called gods the works of the hands of men (Wis.
13:10). And truly so, for it has been said of modern men: I had not
thought death had undone so many.

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