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Does Technology Help Us to Live More Rewarding and Meaningful Lives?

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Does Technology Help Us To Live More Rewarding And Meaningful Lives?

Name: Howard Rennis

Course: Philosophy 1D03E

T.A.: David Rondel

Student number

Assignment number: 2

Word count: 1679

Date: March 30, 2005

"Technology might be described as a further step in applied science by means of the improvement of instruments"{4}. Technology was developed initially to conquer/subdue the environment (non-human nature) as a means of allowing man to live a more comfortable life. Technological development was driven by the Protestant liberal ethic of the eighteenth century Europeans who utilized their new scientific knowledge to develop instruments to subdue non-human nature. Liberalism at that time meant the freedom and right of man to determine his own future without any predetermined limitations on man's nature and capacity rooted in the traditional conception of values and the notion of a higher purpose of man.

In the modern period when liberalism became the focus, man's essence became his freedom thereby removing these higher and external purposes to man's life. Thus Protestant liberalism became identified with progressivism and the tool through which nature was conquered was technology. However as man progressed, technology was developed more and more to conquer human nature thereby transforming the concept of progress while establishing a new concept of morality based on the productive efficiency of technology rather than the traditional concept rooted in man's innate disposition to the law of nature.

Undoubtedly technology has allowed man to live an easier life but it also has negative effects. Among the negative effects are the erosion of the traditional notion of theological good order in society, the depletion of natural resources by the pillage of the earth, and the transformation of man himself in relation to technology. In other words, as technology improves, man has become more enslaved. George Grant notes for instance that technology "has become an end in itself and as such is enslaving us" {7}.

Humans have become enslaved by technology as they become captivated with their own mechanical expertise, their performances and actions, their technical devices and processes. The artifacts of technology serve not only as productive tools but also as toys. Technology becomes the direct means by which humans entertain themselves. As a result they tend to control us, for our unconscious identification with them invest these objects with our person. This identification becomes a form of control over us, since we are unable to disassociate ourselves from our technology. We cannot see it objectively. This is demonstrated in our love for motor vehicles. We become so infatuated with motor vehicles that they become extensions of ourselves. To describe one's car in an unfavorable way, can be as a personal attack on the owner and can be seen as an attack on the owners self esteem. This represents a loss of an objective understanding of the positive and the negative features of the technology of the vehicle. Thus although the auto was first a means to an end; transportation, it becomes a dominant feature of the culture. Larry Hickman notes that,"cities, land use, and even economic well-being have become entangled with the technology of the auto". He said that, "What began as an instrumental value, as a means to the end which was transport, becomes an end in itself." He went on further to say, "Paradoxically this works to frustrate the original human values involved, and thus the automobile can become a threat to life, health, economy, the environment and even to our way of life {3}".

As technology becomes more accessible and humans become more "enslaved" by technology, there is a corresponding deviation from the theological good order in society. C.S. Lewis contends that, "the technological conquest of nature alienates man from those values, which are at the very foundation of his humanity {4}. Lewis believes that there is an eternal set of values -which he calls the Tao -manifested in the traditional moral codes of civilization. These codes generally show a respect for what is given by an unchanging nature {4}. Humans are now eroding those core valves and the very religious foundation on which the technological society was built. Adam Smith wrote that one of religion's most important contributions to the economic development process is its value as a moral enforcement mechanism. German sociologist Max Weber argued" The ethos that set the Protestant apart from all other religions, and which facilitated economic growth, was an intense commitment to work, dependability, diligence, self-denial, austerity, thrift, punctuality, fulfillment of promises and fidelity to group interests{7}. Contrary, to earlier belief and social values, according to the secularization hypothesis, as a country's inhabitants become richer and more educated, their faith in religion and religious institutions wanes, and they attend church less regularly{7}. Economists Edward Glaeser and Bruce Sacerdote find some support for this hypothesis. They wrote in 2002 that increased education results in a decrease in the extent of religious beliefs, perhaps because public school systems tend to reinforce secular education that, the economists argue, conflicts with traditional religious beliefs{7}. Lewis further stated that the traditional moral codes of civilization "have restrained men in their use of power by stressing the higher values of other things"{4}. As our reliance on technology increases, Lewis said that, " the focus of life becomes the attempt "to subdue reality to the wishes of men" - a goal which demands technological power. "

In the pursuit of further technological conquest man and nature have become the objects of scientific scrutiny. Scientists and technologist refuse to acknowledge or even respect the traditional protestant liberal ethics. They see everything as raw material to be manipulated. "When those moral values which are the psychological manifestations of the Tao are treated as raw material, then the final stage of "man's conquest of nature" is reached. In the end, human nature will be conquered, and the meaning of humanity itself made subject to decisions by those few who control scientific power. In the absent of an objective moral standard, and

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