17.621 machines and culture

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Mon Feb 09 2004 - 17:32:44 EST

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 621.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

         Date: Mon, 09 Feb 2004 10:19:09 +0000
         From: Stephen Clark <srlclark@liverpool.ac.uk>
         Subject: machines and culture

Dear Willard

I wrote on this topic in Tools, Machines and Marvels: Roger Fellowes, ed.,
Philosophy and Technology (Cambridge University Press 1995), 159-76, and in
  From Biosphere to Technosphere: Ends and Means 6.2001, pp.3-21.

In the first I made use of Spengler's distinction between Faustian and Magian
culture, suggesting that we were moving into a Magian phase: we can no longer
grasp in detail how our machines work, any more than how biological systems
work (I mean that we cannot follow through the manifold biochemical synergies
that lead from fertilized cell to adult even though we believe that
biochemistry explains it all, and we can't disentangle the multiply patched
programs on which our world depends). The effect is that our machines feel
increasingly like 'living things', and are controlled - like demons of old - by

Stephen Clark
Dept of Philosophy
University of Liverpool

[The above is in reference to Humanist 17.620; the Ends and Means article, to which Clark refers, is archived at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/philosophy/endsandmeans/vol5no2/index.shtml.] </x-flowed>

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Fri Mar 26 2004 - 11:19:41 EST