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Christian Anthropology in a Technological Culture. TCD April 26 2005 Eamonn Conway Centre for Culture, Technology & Values MIC/UL. Christian Anthropology. Faith as In-sight Perspective Faith as reason-able Divine Being as Graciousness “Letting being be” (Macquarrie)

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christian anthropology in a technological culture

Christian Anthropology in a Technological Culture

TCD April 26 2005

Eamonn Conway

Centre for Culture, Technology & Values

MIC/UL

christian anthropology
Christian Anthropology
  • Faith as
    • In-sight
    • Perspective
    • Faith as reason-able
  • Divine Being as Graciousness
    • “Letting being be” (Macquarrie)
    • Life = EX-PRESSION, Co- creativity
from this perspective
From this perspective
  • Life is more about discovery than invention
  • Life is fundamentally ‘gift’
        • Kennelly quotation
  • Life has inherent meaning which discloses itself
  • Essence precedes Existence
as opposed to
As opposed to…
  • e.g. Sartre:
      • ‘For human reality, to be is to choose oneself; nothing comes to it either from the outside or from within which it can receive or accept. Without any help whatsoever, it is entirely abandoned to the intolerable necessity of making itself be - down to the slightest detail’.
        • Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and nothingness
  • Life is about invention rather than discovery
  • Existence precedes Essence
christian perspective
Christian Perspective
  • Issues of Meaning
  • Issues of Morality/Ethics
meaning
Meaning
  • Meaning discloses itself rather than being something that is pursued/grasped;
  • “Letting go” as important as “being in control”
  • E.G. encounter with beauty:
      • Tend to be passive … I was… over-awed, taken aback etc
      • We experience meaning
meaning v purposefulness
Meaning v Purposefulness
  • Purposefulness:
    • Grasping
    • Directing
    • Taking Control
    • Setting about, planning etc…
    • We achieve a purpose
slide8
Technology as we know it– very important in helping us to achieve purposes…
      • "Broadly speaking, technology is how people modify the natural world to suit their own purposes. From the Greek word techne, meaning art or artifice or craft, technology literally means the act of making or crafting, but more generally it refers to the diverse collection of processes and knowledge that people use to extend human abilities and to satisfy human needs and wants."(Excerpt from Standards for Technological Literacy, ITEA, 2000
slide9
But e.g. Heidegger, Tillich warn of:
  • Separation of the ontological from the technical;
  • Art from Technology;
  • Meaning from Purpose
tend to
Tend to…
  • think of technology in a narrower and potentially more damaging way
    • one particular kind of human creativity
    • a highly functional and purposeful engagement with tools or machinery
    • separates the activity of technologists from, for example, those of artists with their paints or writers with their pens and paper.
    • relativises the role that these latter craftsmen and women play in shaping and adapting our environment for the benefit of humanity as a whole.
slide11
Leisure (otium) = right order or balance of
    • Play and Work
    • Meaning and Purposefulness
  • Business / Work/ Purposefulness (neg-otium)
a technological attitude
A technological attitude
  • Technology an end in itself…
  • Blind to issues of ultimate concern
  • Blinding us to issues of ultimate concern
  • “To suggest that there are values other than utility . . . is not merely counter cultural. It actually seems unreal.” (Kavanaugh)
heidegger s concern
Heidegger’s concern
  • When we look at reality through the lens of technology, aspects of nature no longer appear to us as they are in themselves, with intrinsic value, but only as they are in relation to our own perceived needs and/or wants. Thus, for example, a field ceases to be a field and becomes a coal-mine; the air is viewed merely as a source of nitrogen.
what the poets say
What the poets say…
  • Is it possible that despite our discoveries and advances, despite our culture, religion and science, we have remained on the surface of life?

Rainer Maria Rilke

slide15
People are in every way prevented from getting inside themselves. Our greatest problem is a fear of depth

Thomas Merton

slide16
… in the society we have created it is very difficult to give your full, sustained attention to anything or anybody for long, that we are compelled to half-do a lot of things, to half-live our lives, half-dream our dreams, half-love our loves? We have made ourselves into half-people. Half-heartedness is a slow, banal killer. It is also, paradoxically, a creepy pathway towards “success”, especially if the half-heartedness is of the polished variety. I think it was DH Lawrence who once wrote that the real tragedy of modern man is the loss of heart. I don’t think so. I believe our tragedy is the viability of our half-heartedness, our insured, mortgaged, welfare voyage of non-discovery, the committed, corrosive involvement with forces, created by ourselves, that ensure our lives will be half-lived. There's a sad refusal here. A rejection of the unique, fragile gift.

Brendan Kennelly, The Judas Book

does our culture collude with us in the avoidance of depth
Does our culture collude with us in the avoidance of depth?
  • The possible normalisation of shallowness
  • Contexts for consideration:
    • The workplace
    • Advertising/Media
    • Media
      • The soundbyte
      • The news story
    • Relationships: keeping ‘in touch’
      • A creeping superficiality and functionality?
specific ict concerns
Specific ICT Concerns
  • Digital Inclusion…
  • Multiple Identities: the avoidance of being fixed
        • For a time, virtuality can spread a fog of virtual confusion and blur the shape of things and events with glamour and triviality.
        • We can lead a life (or perhaps lives) of multiplicity and flexibility that is unattainable in real life… Borgmann
  • Addictiveness of Internet
    • What are we not doing when on-line…
can technology collude with us in our avoidance of depth
Can technology collude with us in our avoidance of depth?
  • The obvious contexts:
    • Impact of ICTs on relationships
    • Impact of computer games etc on hobbies, lifestyle
    • Etc
slide20
For a time, virtuality can spread a fog of virtual confusion and blur the shape of things and events with glamour and triviality.
  • We can lead a life (or perhaps lives) of multiplicity and flexibility that is unattainable in real life…

Borgmann

technology as liberation
Technology as Liberation
  • Freedom
    • is measured not by the extent of our independence but by the quality of our commitment ...

D Harrington

    • is not the ability to change constantly but the ability to “get it all together”... J Sachs
technology as gift
Technology as Gift
  • Both challenge and opportunity