Thursday, September 6, 2007

811 Technophilia/Technophobia II

Message no. 811[Branch from no. 810] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Tuesday, April 10, 2007 6:13pm Subject: Re: Technophilia/Technophobia II

Another thought about our love/hate relationship with technology:

Just as I wrote in my reply to Adrienne about "Thirdspace" perspectives (the spatial perspective) there is a technique many of us in sustainable development use to think differently about technology.

First we take the word etymologically by its roots -- "Techne" means "art". By this we (and the Greeks who coined the word) generally mean something that was "manufactured" or created by "man". Interestingly the word "Man" also is found in "Manual" and in the French word "Main" which means "HAND". Thus, technology is anything that involves the hand.

This makes sense: one of the things that separates us (and our primate cousins) from the other animals is the fact that we have hands. Hands enables us to use "tools" which is the other word for "technology". Nowadays we distinguish between "hand tools" (low technology) and "machine tools" (high technology), but all that means is that we have found ways to create tools that can be used to use other tools. There is little difference conceptually between computers and digging sticks. Once an animal starts using a tool it has crossed a threshold into the use of technology.

We primates aren't the only ones to use tools. Besides the famous cases of chimpanzees in the wild creating termite sticks and sponges, we know that crows and other birds use sticks and stones to open things and sea otters use rocks to break open abalone shells.

What is fascinating is when you stop thinking about "tools" as things apart from the body and start seeing the world through these eyes: HANDS ARE TOOLS. HANDS ARE TECHNOLOGY. And so are beaks and claws and teeth and feet.

Once you see the world through this optic your fear of technology goes away I've found (unless you have an equally healthy fear and respect for the naked hand! Do you remember the old commercial for Jinzu knives where the man says, "In Japan, the hand is considered a lethal weapon... but not against this tomato!!!"? Did you ever watch the show "Kung Fu" -- the whole Karate phenomenon is predicated on an understanding that the human body is a technology that can be used to further our goals and protect ourselves. Thus, in Japanese, Karate means "Empty Hand" (Kara -- Empty, Te -- Hand).

The fact that a spirit can make a body move is fascinating -- if we are indeed avatars filled with holy spirits then we are their "technology".

I guess what I am saying is that technology is not the thing to fear -- it is merely the physical world that acts in the world. The old adage "guns don't kill people, people kill people" comes to mind -- but you should know that I am an advocate of many forms of gun control because I also recognize that some tools are too potentially dangerous to be left around in the hands of people who aren't responsible.

Where does that leave us? Well, I think that if we think of all objects and every part of our bodies as technology we can see clearer when a technology can be used to control us or can get out of control, because we can analyze how it is linked to the psychology of behavior.

And here is where I will end this post: I suggest to you that TECHNOLOGY IS THE ENVIRONMENT. THE ENVIRONMENT IS TECHNOLOGY. And that environment includes your body, not just the things that surround it. Your body is the environment of your mind and spirit. The rest is just an extension of that ever widening space that ultimately includes every object in the universe. So it is really all about "Environment and the Psychology of Behavior" isn't it? :)

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