In the late eighteenth century, the philosopher-theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher wrote a tract for his friends and colleagues of the cultural elite in Frederick the Greats capital city, Berlin. In that tract, Schleiermacher coined the now-famous phrase, the cultured despisers of religion. He applied the term to the very persons he was writing for. These despisers were in the avant-garde of their day, educated in literature, music, philosophy, and the other learned disciplines, but they seriously misunderstood what religion was about—at least that was Schleiermachers charge. Today we may speak of a new group of cultured despisers, one that is well educated in many respects but which nevertheless turns its attack on the sciences and technologies. These despisers are found mainly in the humanities, and their misunderstanding of science takes form in a sharp critique.
In the critique which these despisers level, science is equated with what they call instrumental reason, reason which aims primarily at technical control or subjugation. The results of this subjugation are various manipulations of nature and persons. Instrumental reason reduces the world to a collection of things or objects. The critique holds that science seeks this control rather than genuine understanding, and because it does, the cultured despisers of science scarcely look upon their colleagues in the scientific fields as partners in the quest for meaning and personal value.
In a previous book I argued that the greatest problem facing humanity is the need to gain control over technology.¹ Man has, I asserted, achieved virtually godlike powers over himself, his society, and his physical environment. As a result of his scientific and technological achievements, he has the power to alter or destroy both the human race and its physical habitat. Man is thus on the threshold of a further evolutionary step of almost unimaginable importance. He now has the potential for transforming himself into a new man, one who is able to understand his powers and is willing to use them responsibly to control himself and his world in order to create the first truly humanized physical and social environment. This human being I call technological man, the creature who both creates and controls his technology. Alternatively, man now has the capacity of degrading himself into a mere object, a physical cog in a less than human society, or of allowing society to dissolve into primitive poverty and chaos. Humanity, in Buckminster Fullers phrase, now faces a choice between utopia and oblivion.² …
¹ Victor Ferkiss, Technological Man (New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1969).
² Buckminster Fuller, Utopia or Oblivion (New York: Bantam Books, 1969).
Victor Ferkiss is professor of government, Georgetown University.
Man and the Land: The Psychological Theory of C. J. Jung by Lawrence N. Gelb
By exploring C. J. Jungs contribution to the understanding of the interrelationship between consciousness and unconsciousness, I intend in this paper to throw light on a framework of the human psyche that can help us understand why man has let his environment so deteriorate and how man can develop the change in attitudes necessary for a new, more realistic approach to the earth on which he lives. Through an integration of the far-reaching implications of Jungs psychological theory, a great deal of wisdom is added to our ecological understanding. …
Lawrence N. Gelb is a milieu leader and counselor, Erich Lindemann Mental Health Center, Boston.
Environmental Concerns and the Need for a New Image of Man by William H. Klink
One generally thinks of technology and the technological society as antithetical to the I-Thou relationship. Technology offers us gadgets and comforts at the expense of dehumanizing assembly lines, computers probing into our private lives, and food and drugs in plenty, but sometimes of questionable value. Yet it is often argued that man has more chances than ever before to be human; that technology has provided large numbers of people with opportunities to humanize themselves and their society in ways that were not previously available. Thus there is a profound ambiguity apparent, in which technologically developed cultures sense both the latent possibilities for humanizing their society using technology and the destructive tendencies inherent in technology.
One such area of ambiguity that will be of concern in this essay deals with the environment. The environmental issues being raised today are a direct consequence of sophisticated technology. This essay will try to show that even while the ambiguity felt toward technology remains, there is the possibility of having a relationship with the environment which is an extension of the I-Thou relationship and possible only in an age capable of producing a sophisticated technology. Such a possibility arises only when a culture is at a stage of technology sufficiently advanced and sophisticated to have the means for dealing with the environment as a whole. While the idea of treating technology as an important component in culture is hardly new, I wish to show that consequences of sophisticated technology for philosophical anthropology are new and extend Bubers analysis of the I-Thou relationship. In short, any modern answer to the anthropological question-what it means to be human-must take into account in a fundamental way mans relationship to the environment as a whole; moreover, this relationship to the environment as a whole contains elements in it that have not been previously possible because of a technology which itself has come into being only in the last fifteen years or so. …
William H. Klink is professor of physics, University of Iowa, Iowa City.
Caring for the Future: Where Ethics and Ecology Meet by Carl E. Braaten
Mankind is facing global disaster in the near future. That is not a prophetic statement from sacred scripture but a computer prediction reported by a team of M.LT. scientists. This team has published its now-famous report under the unspectacular title, The Limits to Growth.¹ This is a study of the future as a blown-up version of the present; it is a future in bondage to the conditions and trends which already exist. It is not the liberated future that lives in dreams, not a visionary future projected by men with their heads in the clouds. It is the matter-of-fact future sketched by scientists with their feet on the ground. Unfortunately, not a single person on earth would care to live in the kind of future they portray. We are given the picture of an exhausted future—exhausted because now we are burning up the fuels of life that belong to coming generations. We are sacrificing the children of tomorrow—indeed, their very existence—on the altars of self-indulgence today.
Scientific predictions, of course, do not decree the future. They are extrapolations from the present into the future. They deal with the empirically probable future, not the morally desirable future. They do not rule out the possible emergence of new factors which might well reverse the current trends leading to global collapse. They do not deny the realm of freedom in history, which is the source of surprises, novelties, miracles, and truly revolutionary interventions. Otherwise scientific predictions would render moral decisions meaningless. The meaning of a moral decision presupposes the power of freedom and a still-open future. Here I will deal with these two dimensions in our approach to the future, the scientific and the ethical—the one telling us what the future is likely to be on the basis of known data, however horrid and inhumane, the other moving us to work for a more fulfilling future on the basis of conscience, no matter how unlikely and implausible. It is in our approach to the future that our ecological forecasts and our ethical decisions meet and possibly collide. Morally sensitive persons will have to become rebels against the scientifically predicted future for the sake of a morally superior one. We are engaged in a kind of civil war between alternative futures; the time is becoming desperately short; it is not enough to get our facts straight; we must try to get our futures sorted out. To cope with the announcements of ecological damnation on a planetary scale, we must quickly shift our thinking to the future, to develop a future-oriented ethic. Such an ethic does not merely reflect back upon the moral dilemmas of the past, deciding the right and the wrong, the good and the bad, concerning actions that have already happened. Rather, it looks to the future with prospective interest, in terms of an anticipatory calculus. …
¹ Donnella H. Meadows et al, The Limits to Growth (New York: Universe Books, 1972).
Carl E. Braaten is professor of systematic theology, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
The Eschatological Dimension of Ecology by Hans Schwarz
Our predecessors have cleared and tamed the wilderness, founded cities, built highways and railroads, developed universities, and enthusiastically embraced the industrial age. These endeavors were pursued with a confidence that we were on the right course and uniquely fitted to succeed. By now we have virtually accomplished this first American dream. However, at the very moment of achievement, we have become surprisingly uncertain.¹ The days of the frontier are over, and many of us are beginning to realize for the first time that we are living neither in a country with unlimited possibilities nor on an earth which provides an infinitely expansible environment. For the first time we are beginning to realize that we cannot have everything. It has become depressingly clear that we must abandon any dreams about a utopian future and concentrate on solving the one basic question which haunts us, namely, Can we afford tomorrow? A great number of people today are convinced that we must make drastic decisions concerning our own future and that of our environment merely in order to survive. In the decision-making process for the future the eschatological dimension of ecology, which is the most influential determinator of the future, is often neglected. However, I want to indicate in this paper that the eschatological dimension of ecology is indispensable to any considerations to secure the future at all. First, I will try to determine whether we really live in an aging world or just in a world come of age, then mention the apocalyptic dimension of the future, and finally address myself to ecological planning as seen in the context of eschatology. …
¹ J. Irwin Miller, Changing Priorities: Hard Choices, New Price Tags, Saturday Review, January 23, 1971, p. 36.
Hans Schwarz is associate professor of systematic theology, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Capital University, Columbus, Ohio.
To most of the literate public, Arthur Koestler is a novelist, and that on the strength of his one best-seller, Darkness at Noon. In fact, more than half of Koestlers twenty-volume output deals with the history and philosophy of science; and his fiction itself, most of it written under the impact of his break with Communism, is of a particularly speculative and exploratory variety. In none of Koestlers novels do women or children dominate. In all of them, description is rare and characterization indicative rather than evocative. In all of them, however, the ruminations of the central, male character are reproduced at length, often in the form of diary entries; and in all of them, a climactic conversation occurs in which Koestler—as Plato in the Dialogues—advances his own thinking by successive identification with pure positions, none of which, in real life, he could adopt. As the titles of his works suggest, Koestler is a peculiarly dialectical thinker, and such fiction is often the perfect vehicle for his thought. He is, in short, not a philosopher-novelist but a thinker who employs without apology whatever literary form best expresses his thought. …
John A. Miles, Jr., is assistant professor of religious studies and assistant director of Scholars Press, University of Montana.
The Future of Technological Civilization by Victor Ferkiss, reviewed by Robert Benne