2010/02/20

this new type of man… turns his interest away from life, persons, nature, ideas — in short from everything that is alive; he transforms all life into things, including himself and the manifestations of his human faculties of reasoning, seeing, hearing, tasting, loving. sexuality becomes a technical skill; …feelings are flattened and sometimes substituted for by sentimentality; joy, the expression of intense aliveness, is replaced by “fun” or excitement; and whatever love and tenderness mankind has is directed toward machines and gadgets. the world becomes a sum of lifeless artifacts; from synthetic food to synthetic organs, the whole man becomes part of the total machinery that he controls and is simultaneously controlled by. he has no plan, no goal for life, except doing what the logic of technique determines him to do. he aspires to make robots as one of the greatest achievements of his technical mind, and some specialists assure us that the robot will hardly be distinguished from living men. this achievement will not seem so astonishing when mankind itself is hardly distinguishable from a robot.

the world of life has become a world of “no-life”; persons have becomes “non-persons”, a world of death.

~ erich fromm, the anatomy of human destructiveness, 1974



depressing, but important?

11 comments:

  1. in my opinion, neither. all studies indicate that humans use technology to extend their humanity, not reduce it. the myth of the happy naked human living in the middle of the savannah couldn't be further from the truth. thanks to our machines, we live in the most humane, morally "correct" era of all human history.

    there is no evidence backing that text up. it is speculation, of the patronizing "my emotions are the only real emotions and no other human being will ever feel as deeply as i do" kind

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  2. all studies? i think someone's cherry picking :)

    there is no evidence backing this text because it IS speculation. this isn't a scientific paper, it's the opinion of one psychologist, philosopher and human.

    i think you're reading this as if it's some kind of neo-luddist writing. it's not. he isn't attacking robots, or technology. he's not even talking about them. he's talking about western man, and the way that, in his opinion, we're alienating ourselves and dulling the human experience.

    don't worry, your beloved R2D2s and johhny5s are safe ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, i don't totally agree on his opinion and i think it's a bit drama-queen. Technology in its various forms brought us humans more closer than ever before. For example: Our emotions, feelings, ideas, etc can be shared in a way that wasn't possible before you had computers, Internet, cell phones,etc.

    Another example: Without my camera i couldn't freeze those moments that i love in humans. Emotions, expressions, anger, love, fear, tenderness, coldness. And without those frozen moments, i wouldn't be able to share them with you, or João, or my Mom, or my friends...


    I couldn't possibly imagine myself in a world without technology. In my opinion technology isn't neither good or bad. It has two sides like a coin.

    PS: R2D2 is the cuteness! I want one. <3

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  4. i agree with you tatiana. i don't think technology itself is either good or bad, it's all about what we do with it. it's let us progress in so many ways and made our lives a lot richer, but of course has also done terrible things too.

    but this article isn't about technology and whether or not it's a good thing. he's using robots and technology as a metaphor for humanity's current state. he's saying that we're at risk of becoming disconnected and cold, and that we're treating each other as 'things' instead of people.

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  5. the text provides no definitions of the terms used and no semantic context, so it is a fictional metaphoric tale of a human being's perspective on reality.

    i can't appropriately argue with it because i have no semantic background on the words used and therefore cannot have a meaningful discussion of the text. and don't like to discuss pointlessly.

    using my semantic background of the words used, this text is inaccurate, uninformed and judgmental. but hey, it's just my own subjective perspective on reality too.

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  6. wow. i think you should take it a bit more seriously momma j :/

    it's one guy's opinion, and it can be interesting to discuss. or not. i'll post something from a science journal next time.

    and i want wall-e. waaaaalll-eeeeeeeee <3

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  7. [Aww, fuck. Wall-e is the cutest. When you return we'll see that movie!]

    Sistah A. yes, i understand that, but still i don't find any personal connection to what he wrote And specially i don't agree with the metaphor.

    From my point of view,and looking through the history of humanity in some aspects we've became more human.

    Our social history shows us exactly the opposite, that we're more into sharing feelings, emotions, and we do it more freely and more often, and in my opinion because now we have more powerful tools to do it.

    But again, this is just me and my asshole (joking :D).


    T. <3

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  8. sister.ash23/2/10 10:07

    maybe it was a poorly chosen extract from the book. we keep going back to the technology thing, but i think he's more targeting modern society and economics.

    in the rest of the book, he argues that modern western humans have a new type of freedom presented to us, and that, psychologically, we're still adjusting to this. this new freedom, he argues, comes with the end of socioeconomic determinism. if you lived in the middle ages, you had very little choice over what your life would entail. if you were born a peasant, statistics say you will die a peasant. we still see this perpetuating class structure today, but not to the same extent. the opportunities for self-determination are far greater now. so, we've had this huge social shift, but perhaps we haven't reached that point psychologically.

    he claims that modern western man takes steps to shirk this new freedom and responsibility we have over ourselves, because it can make us feel isolated. we submit ourselves to authorities, religion, unhealthy power relationships, the drive for material gain.

    he worries that we're defining ourselves by what we have rather than what we do, and that this is leading us to lose our 'humanity', whatever that means :)

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  9. "maybe it was a poorly chosen extract from the book. we keep going back to the technology thing, but i think he's more targeting modern society and economics."

    *****

    Yeah, i think so too, because in this particular one, he's talking about technology and its influence in our social behavior as humans and in our priorities and so on. That's why we're falling on the technology thing over and over.


    "in the rest of the book, he argues that modern western humans have a new type of freedom presented to us, and that, psychologically, we're still adjusting to this. this new freedom, he argues, comes with the end of socioeconomic determinism. if you lived in the middle ages, you had very little choice over what your life would entail. if you were born a peasant, statistics say you will die a peasant. we still see this perpetuating class structure today, but not to the same extent. the opportunities for self-determination are far greater now. so, we've had this huge social shift, but perhaps we haven't reached that point psychologically.

    he claims that modern western man takes steps to shirk this new freedom and responsibility we have over ourselves, because it can make us feel isolated. we submit ourselves to authorities, religion, unhealthy power relationships, the drive for material gain.

    he worries that we're defining ourselves by what we have rather than what we do, and that this is leading us to lose our 'humanity', whatever that means :)"


    ********

    That's another thing, and i don't really see that reflected in the extract that you've posted, and i haven't read the book, and that's why we're not approaching that side.

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  10. Nice excerpt in which Fromm starts transcending his own to have or to be choice as both "to have" or "to be" can be meaningless. Thanks for bringing up.

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  11. Anonymous24/4/10 01:06

    He's right, humans suck and are blind
    (short version)
    I'll stick with the animals, thanks
    -Li the Cheetah

    ReplyDelete

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