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Chapter Ten: The Systems Stage

Section 11: Star Trek



A second implication of this interlude concerns our relation to technology. A formally operational person has a hard time recognizing the arbitrary character of some of the conceptual distinctions one draws. There is one Heraclitean flux from which one carves the concepts that make environment cognizable. Often these concepts are set in opposition with each other: "man vs. nature", "man vs. machine." Just as it is hard to get along with people we think we are at war with, it is hard to get along with nature and machines if we treat them as opponents.



Humanity is not unnatural; human nature is part of nature. Nature includes humanity, civilization, and their products, not excepting technological innovation. The telescope is as much a product of evolution as the eye; communication is as much a product of evolution as the nervous system; the computer is as much a product of evolution as the brain.



I do not mean to dismiss important issues that are emphasized by these oppositions. It may be true that processed foods are dangerous; it may be that we are becoming dependent upon machines in such a way as to lose our sense of autonomy; there are many others. Life is complex; there are many conflicts one cannot avoid -- but who is helped by defining the conflicts more broadly than necessary? Humanity and technology are both aspects of natural evolution, and the products of evolution are constantly in competition with one another. Cosmic consciousness would legitimize the marriage of human and machine dramatized in the movie version of Star Trek.







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Transcultural Friendship: Our Political Future


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