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“Technology and its instruments are appreciated not as extensions of man’s physical faculties but as participating in his intellectual insight with its spiritual values” (Mclean, 1984:11).
Technology like any rational work of man has as its effect the achievement of the destiny of man, which destiny includes the good and happiness of man. So, it is the fruit of both the spiritual and material life of man. Today however, the interplay of science and technology stands in great confusion and increasingly assuming paradoxical dimensions, more purposeful and purposeless, more meaningful and bizarre, and more useful and destructive. While the achievements in science and technology have served to prolong life, they have also served to provide resources for its brutal extermination. Science and technology provide the material ingredients which human development requires though, happiness, ethical values, spiritual well being and wholesomeness of the human person are no less needed as important elements of a humane society. This paper argues here that, scientific technology (i.e. human creativity), interacting with nature (i.e. natural environment) is not and should not be “a journey outward away from home but a homecoming”; a discovery of the essence of ourselves on earth, and within our environment in the world. Such an endeavour is uniquely the function of man whose active life involves a rational principle; an activity of the soul. Man’s moral action, it is contended, entails the conscious, rational control and guidance of the irrational part of the soul in its conception of ideas, and or active creation and use of technique for sustainable humaniniy. Four philosophers, namely, Socrates, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Herbert Marcuse shall be our focus as we attempt the evolution of an ethical approach to sustainable human environment. Socrates and Environmental Ethics That Socrates was at once a moral and intellectual reformer is not, and cannot be an issue in dispute. History books state in non-contradictory tones his dogged preoccupation in transforming and restoring moral conduct through knowledge. Human conduct, it was his belief, is central to every other human activity. For Socrates therefore virtue i.e. knowledge of the good, is science as much as science is virtue. This thesis is further and better established in a celebrated dialogue between Socrates and Aristippus (Xenophon, 1925. Bk III, Ch. VIII). Thus understood, the basis and content of Socratic ethics is fundamentally relational. That is, the idea of utility is essentially the idea of a relationship between a means and an end; nothing, he says, is useful intrinsically, it is useful for something or someone. He thus echoes in the dialogue above that “nothing is good in itself, that all good is relative”. Without regressing into the intellectual dogmas of the different strands of ethical theories of objectivism, subjectivism, relativism and individualism, and their psudo adequacy debates, one would want to argue that Socrates ethics as a science of the sciences transcends such limited analysis of the contemporary ethicists. The informed thinking of Socrates is founded on the nature and function of MAN, who according to him is a soul and not a body. Accordingly, our attempt at determining the good of man must itself involve considering the 1
good of the soul and not the good of the body. It is to be argued though that, there cannot be a soul without the body, and essentially too that, the good of the soul makes no meaning without corporeality. Truly, such argument is sound only to the extent that man is not studied dualistically which fallacy Albert Schweitzer (1961:20) laments that western civilization is a disaster because it is far developed materially than spiritually, but that it balance is disturbed. The central argument of Socrates is not that which is canvassed in ethical relativism. Far from that, it rest in the reasoning that, at the individual level, every body must take care of himself, hence the maxim know yourself. Thus, the good of man will consist in developing his reason by controlling as much as possible the desires of his body which are disastrous for the health of the soul. Such is the overwhelming position of the Socratic ethics that instruments in the hands of man are said to be neither good in themselves, but worthy relatively to the use we make of them. Apparently, Socrates is a candidate of the neutrality theory of science and technology. But this is not the true interpretation of Socratic philosophy. Interpreted to mean wisdom or reflection, virtue signifies excellence which upon further investigation has nothing in common with modern day endeavours of science and technology which have no self-limiting measures or restraints. Such adumbrations by the revered philosophers argues cogently for a grund norm which universal application will engender biospheric harmony. The philosopher himself had argued that “to be virtuous is to be fully developed; being good at something, realizing one’s power. Professor E. K. Ogundowole more clearly understands this state of affairs as liberation, which according to him is self-liberation, hence, self-reliance supported by a mental disposition. This mental disposition he argues “must be such that eschew exploitation of the abilities, enterprise, intelligence and hard work of others, deplore acquisitiveness for the purpose of gaining and or consolidating power, and reject personal wealth accumulated or concentrated as to be tantamount to, or effect a vote of, “no confidence in the social system” (Ogundowole, 1992:255). Obviously, the development type inspired by such unethical paradigms contradicts the essential nature of man whose unique and true good is to grow more and more reasonable. Fundamentally, such moral basis and content as promoted and propagated by Socrates is definitive of the human environment which essential features of civilization he consistently points out does not lie in material achievement but in the moral and spiritual development of the individual i.e. the good of the soul not the good of the body. Placid Tempels (1959:172) also echoes similarly that “material possessions; housing, increase in professional skills are no doubt useful and even necessary values. But do they constitute civilization? Is not civilization above all else progress in human personality?” It is understood here that ‘progress in human personality’ entails a liberated individual with a creative approach to the human environment, who is constantly guided by the good, and able to consistently live up to its demands. Argued as such, ethics (Socratic ethics) is the greatest science (knowledge), and it identifies virtue with knowledge (science) which true science is architectonic to the essence of man; “to become a good man.” In what seems to be a global challenge, Socrates queried:
What is it good for to know all the rest, if you do not know the only thing which is essential? What use will you make of a science if you do not know how to use it for the good? It will be in your possession like a tool in
the hands of a man without experience he manipulates it a random and injures himself more than he makes progress at work (Diogenes, 1925:179).
By interpretative analysis, Socrates enunciates a true science as encased in the domain of ethics, the science of excellence, which knowledge can promote human interaction; within human beings on the one hand, and between human beings and other beings in the biosphere. That humanity has the capacity to do everything and to be everything. Most rightly enthused, it is in ourselves that we find the science of good and evil. It is through the examination of our inner state that we learn and we must seek for whatever we must avoid. The inner reflection provides us all the solutions sought (Ahoyo, 1997:58). Truly, science and technology have powerfully helped man to free himself from the immediate material constraints imposed by the search for security though, they have similarly caused new evils like degradation of the environment, effects on man’s health, the dehumanising robotizing of society and the deepening of social inequalities among others. Prevalence of such noticeable evils of science according to Socrates is a product of ignorance “Know yourself and you will know what convenes you” is what Socrates commands. What then counts as an ethical approach for sustainable human development is founded on the Socratic assumption that all men have the same nature and whatever is good for one is also good for the other. Methodically, humanity engages in self-search to unravel objective values, that self-introspection engenders a higher practical value which according to Hegel is self-discovery. It is a Socratic principle which aim is that,
…man must discover in himself, his destination, his end, the ultimate end of the world, the truth that is what is in itself for itself, he must attain by himself the truth. It is the return of self-conscious which is on the contrary determined as getting out the particular subjectivity. It is thereby that it is eliminated the accidental character of consciousness, the particular whim, the particularity, by having deep down oneself, this exit, having what is in itself and for itself. Objectivity has in this context the sense of universality, that is in itself and for itself and not an external objectivity (Ahoyo 1997:62-63).
Self-knowledge which here means a rigorously rational introspection obviously avoids contradictions but promotes harmony between convictions and actions. Such condition is what life is said to be a moral one. Thus, as a basis for human activity in a biosphere, ethics acts as a guide in the promotion of a true moral life. Human endeavours, which results from self-consciousness, does not (and cannot) disrupt the link between conviction (belief) and action. In truth, such ethical approach more properly defines authentic human beings and hence sustainable human development. Understandably, ethical knowledge (self knowledge) amount to good ethical conduct which knowledge unites conviction with will, thought with action, under the guidance of an inner lucidity, of reason, or of reflective wisdom (Ahoyo, p. 64). This knowledge guides (or should guide) the products of our brains and the works of our hands to avoid contradictions, and so to be in tune with human existence. But human existence, it must be unequivocally stated demands meaning in the universe. The meaningfulness or meaningless of the universe itself starts from the meaningfulness or meaninglessness of human existence. Every human endeavour, using this ethical approach as 3
a guide must be subordinated to the human person long acknowledged by Socrates as the focal point of philosophy. It is here argued that, absolute devaluation of the human person as is common in todays techno-polis is most unethical. Sustainable human development process with its purview an invitation to the understanding of the nature and value of the human person to which Professor J. I. Omoregbe (1990:196) readily provides; that,
man is the key to the understanding of the whole reality. The human person transcends the infra-human world. The human person posses an inviolable dignity an inalienable liberty and an inseparable moral responsibility.
This high premium on the centrality of the human person as the absolute value and the Supreme Being in the universe isolates him out never to be used simply as a means to an end. In the thinking of Socrates, virtue, which quality is self-knowledge can set us free from the illusion of reliance on individual ability, and so liberate us from the servitude of the selfishness, calculation and anti-social ego to fit into the universality of moral laws where in contradictions are non existent, with man always thinking and acting rightly in the promotion of the common good. Arguably, such a civilization is wholistic, which human (sustainable) development, individuals are able to express their inner talents fully in the creation of a happy and peaceful community, just as they bring about an ecologically prosperous natural environment, which nurtures them. Such is what is argued as an ‘ethical approach” towards the evolution of a sustainable human development, wherein, the interests of the individual and society and humans and nature become congruent. The question is, how does the SCIENCE of Socrates regulate the modern sciences (and technologies) in the achievement of this noble goal of sustainable human development? To answer this all-important question suggests to us a little knowledge of the person of Socrates. Socrates, we are told was not a metaphysician, but a practitioner, a physician of souls. It is business was not to construct a system, but to make men think and act morally. He calls this endeavour the only true science, which engenders the good of man. Captured in fragments as handed down to us by Plato and Xenopho, Socrates dictates such a true science as is flavoured by narrowly utilitarian motives thus:
What I ought to do is, what is good for me, and what is good for me is what is useful to me – really useful (Jacques Maritain, 1979:51).
It is to be understood here that, Socratic ethics seems at first sight to have been dictated by narrowly utilitarian motives though, he went beyond utilitarianism of every description. “What is good for me is what is useful to me – really useful” means only that, the good is not just the material, physical or transient things, but what is really useful to man; and at this point Socrates compelled his hearers to acknowledge that man’s true utility can only be determined by reference to a good, absolute and incorruptible i.e. man’s sovereign good which is his last end. Regulated as such, Socrates seems to be arguing that, humanity is saved from the catastrophe which trails the trend of development of human knowledge (science) and skills (technology) that are constantly in the direction of seeking more comforts, conveniences and control on the natural environment. More than ever, humanity is today confronted with a new reality, the increasing knowledge of nature and the ready capability to manipulate it which capability and 4
understanding have conferred on him a power able to destroy the delicate network which he, is himself, as a creature of the nature, involved for better for worse Ahoyo (1997:76) argues in support here that, “to that effect, he (man) has stored in his armouries forces of nature which, if they escape his control, could annihilate the whole mankind.” When and where this happens, humanity is said to be acting in the fashion of cancer cells, which when they run amok and burst out of the prostrate and take over the liver and lymph glands, it kills everything in the body including the cancer cells themselves. Obviously, modern science and technology has given today’s humanity more than he bargained for; serious and burning problems ranging from ecology, exhaustion of the natural, non-renewable raw materials and the problems of scarcity, starvation and misery of the great majority of people in the third-world. But as it is said, “where the danger is, grows also the saving power”, which saving power is the ethical approach of Socrates. This approach emphasises inwardness, subjectivity and self-knowledge. It is perhaps the absence of this self knowledge, this self-consciousness that blinds our knowledge of human essence s graphically presented by Eric Fromm. He says:
He (man) works and strives, but has an obscure consciousness of the usefulness of his action. Whereas his power on the matter increases, he witnesses his powerlessness on the twofold level of personal and social life…. Becoming master of the nature, he has become slave of the machine he has made with his hands. His knowledge about matter is great, but his knowledge about himself is nil (Ahoyo 1997:138).
Rightly self-consciousness or introspection which quality is self-examination and hence the capacity to realise what is more authentic in man, is for us the saving power. This endeavour in human knowledge remains undirected towards the inward dimensions of man offers the only gateway to the true essence of man on the true human condition. Working within the framework of this true science (ethics), human aspirations are made to rule selfinterests and short-range perspective, and profitability subordinates sustainability. For, “nature has to be considered as the whole of which human beings form one component. As a very important component, they are meant to serve nature rather than make it subservient to their own needs and wants, for each generation must pass on what it has received in good order to the next. The argued conclusion here is that science is truly useful to human kind only and only as it is ethically sensitive. Correctly rephrased, science without conscience is but ruin in the soul. This subordination of science to the human spirit is lucidly interpreted by Pope John Paul II (The Common Good, 1997:31) to signify the kingship and dominion of man over the visible world, which task consists in “the priority of ethics over technology, in the primacy of the person over things, and the superiority of spirit over matter.” Humanity totals, and society tumbles in the event that there is the growing priority of technology over ethics, in the growing primacy of things over persons and in the growing superiority of matter over spirit. This is a contradiction of the human will resulting from absence of self-knowledge. In order to act well, which thought links with action, the stake, according to Socrates is to acquire the science of the good, and virtue is that science. This according to Socrates the good of the whole man; the truncated man who is caught between two poles; a material pole, which, in reality, does not concern the true person but rather the shadow of personality of what in the 5
strict sense, is called individuality, and a spiritual pole, which concern true personality. Sustainable human development is derivable from this spiritual pole, the source of liberty, meaning and bountifulness of man, the form or soul of the whole man. Material entities have their meaning or rationality because of the impress of the form or soul (metaphysical energy) the spirit is ordained to inform matter. This is the primary duty of philosophy which Socrates has recasted in his principle of self-examination which functions to control the excesses of the sciences by critique and controversy in the attainment of the ultimate good of man. As the sciences are ever developing and progressing, and responding to the diverse needs and expectations of Homo technos, ethics (philosophy), the supreme science must ever trail them, judging and governing them to accord with the pursuit of the common good, even against strong economic forces that would deny it so as the feared evil of turning science into an endeavour that devotes itself to organised murder and mass dehumanisation. The perfect thought of St. Thomas Aquinas may here suffice, that, “any culture or society or age that does not submit the sciences to the critical leadership of philosophy (ethics) heads to confusion and low rationality” (Nwoko, 1992:12). Meaning then that, public life needs rescuing from utilitarian expediency and the pursuit of self-interest. In human affairs, the twin principles of solidarity and subsidiary need to be applied systematically to the reform of the institutions of public life. Husserl and Heidegger on the Ethical Approach Phenomenology as adopted and used by both Husserl and his student Heidegger suggest a method of investigation where from the essences of Beings are made known as they are in themselves as they are. While Husserl insists that phenomenology as a method is characterised by ‘what’ of the object of philosophical investigation as to its subject matter, Heidegger argues otherwise that it is the ‘How’ of that investigation. Notwithstanding their special emphasis, phenomenology etymologically formulated means “to let that which shows itself be seen from itself in the very way in which it shows itself from itself” (Heidegger, 1978:58). It means by this descriptive statement that, true knowledge (science) of being is possible only through phenomenology; that ‘phenomenon’ is the being of entities, its meaning, its modifications and derivatives. Thus, the argued conviction of both Husserl and Heidegger is that, behind the phenomenon there is nothing else, but since the phenomenon itself can be hidden – proximally and for the most part, there is, need for phenomenology which maxim is “to the things themselves”. But as human knowledge has made progress, it has not and cannot come to anything; it has rather raised more problems than solutions. Such paradoxical situation, to which knowledge (science and technology) has led us to, convinces us that knowledge itself is a disability. This is what we call the crisis of science and technology to which Husserl and Heidegger offers a phenomenological rescue mission. Science and technology are products of the essentially metaphysical character of the western intellectual tradition which technocratic reduction of everything to planning, calculation and predictable laws, wrest objectivity from what is, the quest for certainty in our ways of knowing and the passion for totality or the total dominance of everything. Such is the real source of the problem of modern science (and technology). As Dr Jim Unah rightly alludes, “by forcing things to appear which he (man) does not need, man turns 6
himself into the conqueror of nature, into an overlord who wills to thoroughly exploit and dominate the earth”. But he concludes rightly too that, “he who exploits and dominates the earth ends up thoroughly debasing the earth” and destroying the entire biosphere, including himself (1998:362). It remains to be seen how Husserl and Heidegger have adopted the phenomenological method as an approach to true humanism and hence removing “Abstacles to the Building of a Beautiful World” (Read Easlea, B, 1973). They both argued that, what leads to a distortion of reality is not any inherence of a distorting element in things themselves, but the way we position ourselves to view them. They argued further that we can position ourselves to view things and relate with objects and see the objects the way they are, without bias, prejudice, preconceptions and predispositions of particular circumstances. Thus inquisitional methodology for Husserl is epoch and phenomenological reduction, while goes for the explication of Dasien. Phenomenology, they argued in conviction, promises to be a vehicle for authenticity as it purges the metaphysical attitude of viewing what is presented to ones consciousness from the cognitive imposition of another. Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) Phenomenal technological advancement is said to be the most important noticeable index of the twentieth century. As lavishly described in chapter two, the twentieth, but beginning with the nineteenth century witnessed spectacular achievement in virtually every area of human endeavour thus earning our generation the appellation the best of times. But the necessary natural law of Nyohon yuan which is exemplified in the principle of opposites; good and bad, positive and negative have on the other hand brought to bear on humanity deterioration in our ecological system, widespread abortion and the ever looming threat of nuclear holocaust through war or accidental detonation. On this negative note, our century could also be described as the worst of times. It is to be said that the forces of the techno-scientific economy are threatening the very existence of human life, even while they create unheard-of material bounties for a minority of humanity. These same forces are giving rise to ever more complex social, political and moral questions. Rightly described, our century has become in the words of Eric Hobsbawn (1996:6), an era of “decomposition uncertainty and crisis which for Edmund Husserl means that science has lost its importance for life. The question of science, but the domineering spirit of the positive sciences in particular, with its spirit of exaggerated and blinded materialism meant that man was diverting himself with indifference from the questions which are decisive for an authentic humanity. Perhaps the problem which could best described as global in nature is most comprehensively listed to include among others the following:
Uncontrolled human proliferation, chaos and division in society, social injustice, hunger and malnutrition, widespread poverty, the mania for growth inflation, energy crisis, international trade and monetary disruptions, protectionism, illiteracy and anachronistic education, youth rebellion, alienation, uncontrolled urban spread and decay, crime and drugs, violence and brutality, torture and terrorism, disregard for law and order, nuclear folly, sclerosis and inadequacy of institutions, corruption, bureaucratisation, degradation of environment, decline of moral values,
loss of faith, sense of instability, lack of understanding of the above. Problems and their interrelationship. (Aurelio Peccei, 1979)
This prevalence of the problems have reduced human thinking to the concluding that science no longer has anything to say to humanity in the distress of their live. It is within the bounds of this intellectual tradition that Edmund Husserl argues that science has ignored its most crucial traditional function. As he alludes, the questions it excludes in principle from its field of concern are precisely questions which are the most burning for our unfortunate times, for a humanity abandoned to the upheavals of destiny. They are questions related to the sense or the absence of sense of all human existence. These questions, he argues further require in their generality and necessity that we carefully and adequately consider them so as to find answers to them which come from a rational view; he says
the evil in the positivist approach of science consists in excluding subjectivity from its domain of research; but then all that concerns man himself is precisely to be found in this subjectivity, this spirituality (Ahoyo, 1997:79)
Husserl implies by this assertion that the person is the basis of judgement of technoscience, and that it is the absence of the concept of person that science has found itself in the present mess, losing sight the original foundation on which it has been built. Personalism is perhaps the best watch-doctrine and the most wholesome in the presentation of man against the truncated conception of man. This philosophical knowledge of man which involves the true meaning, dignity and destiny of man may have most obviously informed. Boethiu definition of the person as naturae rationalis individual substantia (the individual substance of rational nature) (Boethius ). This definition implies that man is a natural unity, a unity of the individual man, a unique entity of self. The person is the totality which the self achieves in the individual entity in the unity of his spiritual and physical aspects. The threatening symptoms of the crisis in European culture is viewed by Husserl as eroding this unique understanding of man. He thus undertakes through a critical and deep analysis of the philosophic thought which has lost its human dimension. He thus jettisoned the traditional reduction of human knowledge to objectives scientific knowledge leaving aside the vast domain of sensitive and immediately subjective knowledge. Using this approach, Husserl sought to merge sensitivity and understanding, subjective emotion and concept into a single whole in an attempt to strike a relationship between the activity of consciousness and human essence. In his “The Idea of Phenomenology (1970) Husserl convincingly argues out this possibility. That when the mind or ego is purified, and so effectively carried out, a zero – attachment is achieved, hence consciousness is poised to “see’ the thing as it truly is. This is properly speaking what Husserl calls reduction, which is a cognitive process of arriving at the essence of a thing through the extraction of intellectual, doctrinal and particular colorations, which procedure meaning is intuited, leading the human person to transcendental subjectivism. It is to be acknowledged that such a sense of human existence in its wholeness is founded on Husserl’s strong belief that the human person is the basis of our practical judgement of the good. Indeed, it is actually the principle of goodness alive in the world. Such is which strong faith Husserl had in the human project that he brilliantly captures in his paper entitled “The Crisis of European Humanity” when he says
that “misled humanity could be called back to reason and that phenomenology could reveal its authentic image.” Interestingly, Husserl sought a reverse in methodology. Reality he says is found through the eye-glasses of phenomenology which search for immutable foundations of philosophy directs knowledge towards pure consciousness”, towards total subjectivity (Ahoyo 1997:110) Husserl argues then that the new task of philosophy is to restore the sense of human wholeness which positivism has destroyed; to rediscover the sense of wholeness. Such is why he sees philosophers as the civil servants of humanity, to restore that which is most noble and most perfect in all of nature, to integrate all the existing values and potentialities in the world towards a transcendent goal which find expression in his concept of intersubjectivity, that i, the coalescing together of subjectivities, which “agreement that a certain thing is the case becomes objective” (Unah, 1998). For Husserl therefore, the human person is central to what counts as development and that which is good is that which is subsumed in the concept of the human person who is the centre of complementation and communion of all created worldly values; the natural social, the universal values, all values: material and spiritual have their ultimate meaning only in reference to the person. Sustainable development only is to the extent that it makes the whole of man; his material and spiritual values, a focal point. For St. Thomas Aquinas most rightly posits that, the human person signifies what is most perfect in all nature, hence Agenda 21 Principles (UN Briefing Paper, 1997:27) correctly adumbrates the point further that, “human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.” Martin Heidegger The thoughts of Heidegger on science (and technology) are not too expressly distinct from those of Edmund Husserl. But more than Husserl, Heidegger made a successful attempt at distinguishing between modern science (or technology) and ancient science (or technology). He thus argued like Husserl that, modern science had developed losing sight of the original foundation on which it has been erected and that neglect was responsible for the crisis it is getting across in spite of its success. According to Heidegger, (1997:3-37)” technology (in its everyday sense) is not equivalent to the essence of technology” to be free of misunderstandings, to relate technology intelligently, we must fund its central meaning and that can be done only by discovering its essence; we must think of its relationships with all else. To view technology as a complex of contrivances and technical skills, put forth by human activity and developed as a means to our ends is an error of judgement. “We are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard it as something neutral”, he says. On the contrary, the essence of technology reveals it as something far from neutral or merely an instrument of human control; it is an autonomous organizing activity within which humans themselves are organised. The argued position of Heidegger is that the true essence of technology is to be located in the modes of occasioning, the four causes; Causa materialis, causa formalis causa finalis and causa efficiens. As he put it “every occasion for whatever passes over and goes forward into presencing from that which is not precencing is poiesis, is bringing-forth” (Heidegger 1977:10). This bringing-forth is, in its most generally understood sense what the 9
Greeks called aletheia, which Heidegger expressed in the German word Entbergen and his English translators have expressed in the word ‘revealing’, that is truth revealing which objective significance is the expression of the actual coming into presence of something. Put in proper perspective, Heidegger here locates technology within its Greek etymology as essentially that which belonging to the general notion of bringing-forth, Poiesis. he thus adumbrates this position further and better thus;
techne… reveals whatever does not bring itself forth and does not yet lie here before us, whatever can look and turn out now one way and now another… Thus what is decisive in techne does not lie at all in making or manipulating nor using of means, It is a revealing, and not as manufacturing, that, techne is a bringing-forth (1977:13).
By this assertion Heidegger means to insist that the basis essence of technology has remained the same unchanged and that this essence is most readily observed in the Greek origins of our thinking about these things. The problem with modern technology and the dangers of modern science and technology is that they have evolved outside this essential nature as a mode of revealing. What we understand as modern technology can hardly be recognised as having a common origin with the fine arts or craft. Instead modern technology is distinguished in having made its alliance with modern physical science rather than with the arts and crafts. It is thus not farfetched to conclude that modern technology destroys, and dehumanizes. Indeed, humanity journeys and involves with nature to the point of intrusion upon it. Thus, instead of diverting the natural course co-operatively (wherein lies the essence of technology) modern technology emphrames and achieves the unnatural by force. Not only is it achieved by force but it is achieved by placing nature in our subjective context, setting aside natural processes entirely, and conceiving of all revealing as being relevant only in human subjective needs. The essence of technology originally was a revealing of life and nature in which human intervention deflected the natural course while still regarding nature as the teacher and, for that matter, the keeper. The essence of modern technology is a revealing of phenomena, often far removed from anything that resembles ‘life and nature’ in which human intrusion not only diverts nature but fundamentally changes it. As a mode of revealing, technology today is challenging – forth of nature so that the technologically altered nature of things is always a situation in which nature and objects wait, standing in reserve for our use. We pump crude oil from the ground and we ship it to refineries where it is fractionally distilled into volatile substance and we ship these to gas stations around the world where they reside in huge underground tanks, standing ready to power our automobiles or airplanes. Technology has intruded upon nature in a far more active mode that represents a consistent direction of domination. Everything is viewed as “standing-reserve” and, in that, loses its natural objective identity. The river for instance, is not seen as a river, it is seen as a source of hydro-electric power, as a water supply, or as an avenue of navigation through which to contact inland markets. In the era of techne humans were relationally involved with other objects in coming to presence; in the era of modern technology, humans challenge forth the subjectively valued elements of the universe so that, within this new form of revealing, objects lose their significance to anything but their subjective status of standing-ready for 10
human design. Thus everything in the universe, including humans, have been transformed in significance leading to a loss of humanity. It may be said to that extent that, humanity has been conducted out of its own essence. Obviously, our attempt at converting ‘science and technology as tools of human development but which have become standing reserves has effected the greatest threat to humanity by carrying humanity away from its essential nature. On the one hand we consider ourselves, rightfully, the most advanced humans that have peopled the earth but, on the other hand, we can see, when we care to that our way of life has also become the most profound threat to life that the earth has yet witnessed. Medical science and technology, it is argued, have even begun to suggest that we may learn enough about disease and processes of aging in the human body tat we might extend individual human lives indefinitely. In this respect we have not only usurped the god’s rights of creation and destruction of species, but we may even usurp the most sacred and terrifying of the god’s rights, the determination of mortality or immortality (Tad Beckman, 2000:13) Thus maternally and spiritually, human life and its environment have been profoundly transformed, and humanity no longer has a correct relationship with the environment. For Heidegger therefore human development is not and cannot be a product of modern technology, for it has lost its essence. As human beings become progressively more involved as the orders of reality conceived as standing reserve, they too become standing reserve at a higher level of organization. That is, as human beings come to see other beings in the world only for their potential applications to human dispositions, humans themselves come to mirror this shallowness of “being” and to see themselves merely in terms of potential resources to the dispositions of others. Understood within this human disposition, our essence as human beings falls into concealment which activity Heidegger calls enframing. As Tad Beckman is to argue in explication,
Emframing challenges us forth in the decisive role as organizer and challenger of all that is in such a way that human life withdraws from its essential nature. Within this role the essence of our humanity fall into concealment; we can no longer grasp the real nature of life. We withdraw into a conception of reality that is subjective and isolated (Beckman 2000:15)
But, Heidegger asserts that the human essence is not a being in isolation. Human beings unlike most beings that are simply in existence with no relationship to one another, no consciousness, are unique, they are beings among beings, beings who witness other beings. Such essence of human life is founded in the facticity, or objectivity of Dasein; not only do we humans come into relationship with other beings through our characteristic consciousness but they come into their own beings as objects through us. They are witnessed by us. This is why Heidegger insisted that from the position of our own essence, “we can never encounter only [ourselves’” (Adams; 1946:27). So argued, any conception of our environment that perceives only ourselves and our dispositions is necessarily flawed from the point of view of essential human nature. But is there a way out of this human predicament? The answer to this complex and difficult question may simply be YES. We agree with Holderlin that “where the danger is, 11
grows also the saving power”. We must stare into the depths of all that is and was and can be and recognise, above all, that what humans essentially are is, in some mysterious way, a “grant.” So Heidegger says, “only what is granted endures. That which endures primally out of the earliest beginnings is what grants” (Heidegger 1977:31) If technology is seen as an imminent threat to humans, it comes to focus attention upon that which is granted to human life, since what is granted is precisely what is most threatened. Thus Heidegger suggests that the saving power begins to grow precisely within the greatest danger. The saving power is found in the arts, which saving power is “more than hauling something back to its original form; instead, it should be construed as bringing something back into its essence. Thus the saving power that arises through art and within the danger of modern technology must be a power to bring humanity back into their essence. Heidegger’s attempt could be summarised within this thinking, that “we must proceed into the future, as we interact in the techno-polis, from where we stand but, while we proceed, we should use these things and our talents to come back into our own essential nature. Technology carries humanity outward from ourselves and to that extent humanity fails in the essential task of human fulfilment as beings whose very essence is to be – there, to witness the whole of what is. Through the art, which nature is homecoming, that is, discovering the essence of ourselves on earth and within our environment in the world, we are healed by coming back into our on essence. It is not an exaggeration to say that the art does bring us the power that can save us from the people that we have become. Art might be able in some way to drawn us back into a more original form of bringing – things forth. It is perhaps to be understood that Heidegger is well informed on this consistent and well developed picture of art, especially the art of poetry. In this picture,
art is a mode in which life is experienced in which life is experienced in which truth happens for us. …art is a mode of revealing, a setting forth, in which humans and other objects-beings come to presence in an organization that is far closer to the essential nature of human life on this earth. (Heidegger, 1971:25).
As a saving power that returns humanity to its essential nature, art carries us into the essential tension between earth and world and to the essential need of humans to fund a joyous home within for just as technology in the epoch of enframing has effected the greatest threat to us by carrying us away from our essential nature, art possesses the capacity to become the mastering theme of a new epoch in which we are healed by coming back into our own essence. Such is what Heidegger calls a bringing-forth which means the liberation of man from the hold of technology and a modification or a redefinition of our relationship with them. Instead of being fascinated and dominated by them, we can in using them normally keep a certain distance to them, that is allowing them to reveal themselves the way they are in themselves as they are in themselves. This condition of science and technology is sine qua non for human fulfilment nay sustainable human development. For Heidegger therefore,
We can say “yes” to the inevitable use of technology but at the same time say “no”, which means that we should impede them to monopolise us and thus to miss stifle and finally empty our Being (Heidegger, 1977:49)
Such temperament is what Heidegger calls the “serenity of the soul” which condition entails a communion between the body and the mind. Since a human person is possessed of both mind and body requiring both spiritual and material fulfilment pursuit of wealth and the satisfaction of the physical needs of man must be tempered by the cultivation of the mind. Outer satisfactions of a material kind should be enhanced by the inner satisfaction of the mind and spirit. This is the goal of wholistic human development which the physical needs of man are achieved through science and technology (from nature) though, they are not used in a manner that they will dominate us and finally empty our Being. They are used in a way that we are at peace and a piece of nature, at peace with our emotional needs by maintaining peace between the individual and society, from which we also derive intellectual and spiritual peace. A Phenomenological Rescue Mission In an essay entitled “Remembrance of the Poet”, first published in 1943, Heidegger (1979:233-269) explicates an analysis of Holderlin’s elegy “Homecoming” in which he tells the story of a man who returns from his youthful travels to the town of his birth, his home. He sails across Lake Constance and out of the shade of the ALPS to the little town, where he finds familiar places and congenial faces. As Heidegger saw it “Homecoming” tells a deeper story of a poet who is finding the significance of his homeland and, hence, of home itself. One most significant aspect of this story is Heidegger’s conception of the poet’s journey in life as wholly a matter of “homecoming”. Life, Heidegger argues, “really consists solely in the people of the country becoming at home in the still – withheld essence of home” (1979:245). Homecoming is the return into the proximity of the source, it is the essence of our being on the earth and that towards which we should work in our lives. Such contemplation is truly which philosophy informs the phenomenological principle to which Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger both subscribe. That total domination of the earth by anybody or any group would not save and preserve the earth. “If our true project is to save the earth from cosmic disaster” opines Dr Jim Unah, “all we require is to have or learn to have a phenomenological access to the world to things and people” (1998:363). This attitude is founded in the facticity or objectivity of man who has relationship with other beings, the only being who observes both himself and other beings. Thus, phenomenological access to what is, entails a bringing-forth, it requires an attitude of the mind, which allow things to manifest themselves without forcing them into our straitjackets. It is letting things be, and letting what is reveal itself without coercion; a revealing that heals humanity and conducts it back into its real essence on earth. This inherent disposition of phenomenology is what Jim Unah (ibid) tagged, phenomenological rescue mission, but which Holderlin calls “Homecoming”; a uniquely vital journey into the basic human issue of finding the essence of home (man’s original state of existence) within life on this earth. Conclusion The task of philosophy, it is often said is the critical examination of the ideas we live by. This supposition further argues that, philosophy has always announced and justified the task of a rational reorganization of the world, which implies the recognition of the specific or 13
at least the potential rationality of the universe. Candidates of this school of thought are quick to conclude here that, one might rationalise the existing, though it is not immediately rational. That, what the rationalization of the world has led us to through science and technology is the worsening of human condition, perhaps without a saving power. The present alienation of human condition, they argued is a by-product of this condition which remains caught in the trap of positivism whose evils it has so brilliantly unmasked. In our preceding analysis, we have shown that philosophy is not only the critical and rational examination of the ideas we live by, but that it is also the saving power of the ideas that govern human existence. Basking in the era of the crisis of science and technology, which consequent effect is the disappearance of “the person, but the emergence of the machine”, we have argued in a reverse order that, the ‘person’ is the measure of all things. The person, it is argued in this work, is the totality which the self achieves in the individual entity in the unity of his spiritual and physical aspects understood as such, the human person is the basis of our practical judgement of the good. It is based on this thinking that we conclude that “science without conscience is ruin of the soul.” The implication here is that, science and technology necessarily needs to be inward directed so as to avoid the feared danger of conducting humanity out of its real essence on this earth. Sustainable human development is more than mere growth and progress in material terms, it means growth and progress in reference to the human person who is the reason for all values in the world; material and spiritual. This, to us is what counts as an ethical approach to sustainable development. Informed by the thinking that humanity always poses problems that it can solve, we proposed three options as a way ahead (out of) the present crisis in science and technology. Option one argues that the way out of the radical upheaval caused by science is a return to morality. Humanity, Socrates says, is at the crossroad and can only be returned back into natural human essence through his moral philosophy which characteristic features are inwardness, subjectivity and self-knowledge. Ethics he says, is the queen of all sciences and without ethics science cannot stand. Option two argues out the rehumanization and healing of the positivist contagion through phenomenology. Pioneered by Edmund Husserl, this, line of thought argues that the restoration of human wholeness which positivism has destroyed is possible through transcendental consciousness. Phenomenology, in its search for immutable foundations of philosophy, he says, directs knowledge towards. “Pure consciousness”, towards total subjectivity. Philosophy, hitherto, he says, has remained naively objectivist; the ontological constants brought out by that philosophy are without any relationship with human existence. Hence, it is the task of philosophy to rediscover this sense of wholeness. So, he says philosophers are the civil servants of humanity (Husserl, 1965:23). Option four closely associates itself with option two, and extends its garb to existentialism using it as a war against the project of a scientific philosophy propounded by Martin Heidegger, a student of Husserl, existentialism like phenomenology argues the role of philosophy in the restoration of moral and spiritual confidence of men, against the dehumanisation and scepticism sowed by science and technology. Whether it is the moral philosophy of Socrates, or the phenomenology of Husserl, or the existentialism of Heidegger, the synergy is that, ethics define relationships between 14
beings; beings who witness other beings as beings among beings, and that, the nature of a relationship defines the essential human nature or otherwise. Such conviction may have informed the observations of the French philosopher and mathematician, Michel Serres, that,
…we (i.e. the scientists) have henceforth the responsibility to manage the infinite cone of the possible that the ethics of our fathers named reality, inventory, speculative activity seems to pose non-ethical problems; choice on the contrary, a serious one. Once you have for a long time combined, you have to choose what may pass from the possible to the actual (Ahoyo, 1997:122-123).
What this observation reduces to is that, the age long paradgm of scientific neutrality is replaced with the phrase “to know amounts to choose”, for as Heidegger rightly suggests, “from the position of our own essence, we can never encounter only ourselves”. We have thus argued that, human action must always be informed by an attitude of the mind, in the promotion of the human person. Kant’s formulation of the categorical imperative may suffice here, that human action should be always directed “as to treat humanity, whether in thy own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end in all, never as means only” (Ozumba, 2001:89). While we support Kant’s position that the motive of the will is good if and only if its motive is solely one that emanates from duty, we hasten to say that such motive should not emanate from duty for duty sake. Such sweeping conclusion has the capacity of promoting the culture of scientism. It is thus argued that, human dignity, of everyman should be topmost in human presencing. Arguably, human presence is crucial to other beings coming-to-presence, to truth happening. That is to say that, the human essence is fundamentally involved in all revealing, in all objects coming into unconcealment. Technology as a mode of revealing, is one part within many possible parts that open up within the essential nature of that human role; each of these parts develops a specific aspect of our relations to beings. That relationship is always reciprocated in the sense that, in so far as being-there is our essential mature, the way that we are there, the way that we relate, is the way that we ourselves come into being during that period. Heidegger, an authority in this insight allays with this conclusion and adds in particular that, “the way we treat other things is determinant of the way we ourselves will be treated. True, science and technology have made tremendous progress and growth, we have mastered gravity and space, we have driven back the limits of life or death, we can now choose the sex of our children and may tomorrow reproduce our own kind asexually and treat any type of complicated disease, thanks to the breakthrough in the study of genes. But herein, that power, lies all our problems. It is thus no longer what could I know , which is the question of science, but what should I know and do which is the question of sense (ethics). What is being argued for is a responsible human environment in which humanity is called upon to integrate in its present actions the care to preserve the life of its descendants, nay its environment. In what appears as a summary of our position, Hans Jonas has formulated in a Kantian formula the following ethical imperative:
Act in such a way that the effect of your action be compatible with the permanence of an authentically human life on earth. (Ahoyo 1997:136).
This imperative itself is a call for a meaningful relationship of openness and dialogue within human being on the one hand and, with nature; the environment on the other. Yersu Kim (1999:42) in his “A Common Framework for the Ethics of the 21st Century” provides in addition, a four point agenda in this regard: (i) The view of nature as accessible through causal mechanistic law has enabled humanity to control nature and provide for itself the good life on earth. The same view has contributed to the destruction of the natural environment and alienation of human beings. We must therefore seek a balance such that we may maintain a sustainable harmonious relationship between the human species and nature. (ii) As nature is a finite quality, we must learn to manage the economy to sustain the complexity and stability of nature while at the same time to manage nature so as to sustain our economy. As our desires are insatiable, we must learn to accommodate our desires to the limits nature sets, not to push the limits of nature beyond its capacity for generation. (iii) Humanity needs to develop economically and technologically in order to deal with the problem of poverty in which a great majority of human beings still live. Continuation of economic development at the present rate endangers the rights of the future generations to life and a healthy environment. We must therefore, learn to balance short-term thinking and immediate gratification with long term thinking for future generations by shifting the balance towards quality rather than quantity. (iv)Consumption contributes to human well-being when it enlarges the capabilities and enriches the lives of the people. Consumption, when excessive, undermines the resource base and exacerbates inequalities. Consumption therefore must be such as to ensure basic needs for all, without compromising the well-being of others and without mortgaging the choices of future generations. This is the agenda for sustainable development which corpus entails that nature has to be considered as the whole, of which human beings form one component, which important component, they are meant to serve nature rather make it subservient to their own needs and wants. The human species, with all its attributes of intelligence, inventiveness and capacity of intervention is called upon to use these qualities in a positive manner to serve the whole of which they are a part. Instead of exploiting nature in a manner of forcing things to appear which man does not need, instead of dominating nature which action backfires and ends up thoroughly debasing the earth with man inclusive, humanity should act as sentinels of nature and help maintain the multifarious delicate webs of the eco-systems that make it function in a sustainable manner. “We could learn from the bees” recommends Dr Devendra Kumar, “the manner to serve nature and get its sustenance simultaneously. The more the honey it collects from the flowers, the more it serves, in the propagation of the plants by helping in their fertilization. We could emulate the bees by fulfilling our needs through a similar symbiotic relationship with nature.” (Kumar 2001:2). Perhaps too, the Delphic Method of Rushworth Kidder, the founder of the “Institute for Global Ethics” (USA) could help reinvent a new world order for sustainable human development. In his Shared Values for a Troubled World, Kidder (1994), identifies a number of cross-cultural core values: love, truthfulness, fairness, freedom, unity, tolerance, responsibility and respect for life as architectonics of sustainable 16
human development; a wholistic development which entails a combination of the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual dimensions. This should be in a way that humanity is at peace with nature; at peace with our emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. This, John XXIII (1963) argues can be established only if the order between men and nations, laid down by God, and rooted in the nature and dignity of the human person is observed. This is a call for the regulation of human activity which activity proceeds from man, and which human activity is also ordered to him. The development of his life through his mind and his works should not only transform matter and society, but it should also fulfil him, his spiritual realm, for it is what a person is rather than what he has that counts. Thus, technical progress is an important compliment of human development though, it is of less value than advances towards greater justice, wider brotherhood and a more humane social environment. It is here argued that, the norm for human activity is to harmonise with the authentic interest of the human race, in accordance with God’s will and design, and to enable men as individuals and members of society to pursue and fulfil their total vocation – the better ordering of human society.
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