Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Visionary anticipators with theological imaginations

Re: 'In Our Own Image: Humanity's Quest for Divinity via Technology,' by Debashis Chowdhury
by Rich on Wed 06 Jun 2007 06:23 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link
DC wrote: he organizational model now becomes the human body – and individual humans would be like individual cells in the human body, each with it own limited consciousness – but together able to aspire to a heightened consciousness. The Noosphere concept does hint at this developing intelligence.
RC: I am a bit suspicious of any attempt to formulate the emergence of a reality in which a collective organism arises that in effect totalizes our social being and sublimates the individual human to little more than cellular units. The great collective experiments of history have almost all ended in utter ruin or totalitarianism such as Maoism, Stalanism, Nazism or any variety of the major religions. The track record of such social organization is abysmal and I do not see any new spiritual impetus in the species which leads me to believe we would succeed any better be it a Noosphere or Spaceship Earth.
This vision also seems to me at odds with Sri Aurobindo's view of the gnostic community, in which he says that the gnostic community is formed by gnostic individuals. He also expresses his distrust and highlights problems that a human "group mind" presents to the evolution of consciousness. I would hazard to say the unit of selection (human progress) in Aurobindo's view of the evolution of consciousness is the individual and the transformation of even the collective consciousness is dependent on the these aspiring (gnostic) individuals
Moreover , I think the following passage from an article (I think its Teilhard meets Nietzsche) I posted on Sciy which excerpts from Arthur Kroker's book "Data Trash" in which he considers what has actually become of the dreams of the modernist vision of a collective evolutionary being :
"Teilhard de Chardin’s “noosphere” Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” The notion of an emergent form of being that comes out of the “human” and surpasses it. Samuel Alexander’s “deity” and all the other “gods” that humans are supposed to bring into being and which were in the minds of James, Bergson, Unamuno, and Whitehead. For the most part evolutionary and progressive. Also Hegalian. Just because the human will be decentered and surpassed by a new mode of being does nt mean that the human will be diminished. On the contrary it will come into its own as collaborator in something greater. Honored collaborator. James’s god was a friend and a partner who needed us. Whitehead’s god was fulfilled only in its consequent nature through our efforts.
McLuhan’s technological humanism stands at the end of this modernist discourse. All other emerginists were visionary anticipators with theological imaginations. In McLuhan the noosphere materializes as the media-net. The emergent is no longer to be striven for as something in the future, but a fact. McLuhan is the moment of positivistic emergentism. He is reporting the fact that there is a mode of being that has succeeded and now encompasses the human. But he is still a humanist . He is still a doctor. He needs to prescribe. For him, there is a common sense which might be trained to respond to the distortions created by technology and to restore its homeostasis through an indigent diet. The media might yet serve “man”.
Cross McLuhans’s nervous system outerized by the media with Nietzsche’s “last man” and you get crash theory. This is how it happens : Crash Theory is the post-humanist (not anti-humanist- what is there to be against if the “human” is dead and now a subject of endless resurrection efforts) continuation of emergentism. It follows McLuhan’s outerization thesis, and extends elaborates it by calling attention to how the media-net is constituted by technologies that were not in McLuhan’s ken. Crash theory, however, abandons the notion that media are “extensions of man”. Far from it . They are the humiliations of the flesh which remains an embarrassment after man dies. (Kroker and Weinstein 1994)

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