Saturday, October 19, 2019

"technology is never merely technology. It reveals man and his aspirations"

"Technology — it is worth emphasizing — is a profoundly human reality, linked to the autonomy and freedom of man. In technology we express and confirm the hegemony of the spirit over matter. 'The human spirit, "increasingly free of its bondage to creatures, can be more easily drawn to the worship and contemplation of the Creator"'. Technology enables us to exercise dominion over matter, to reduce risks, to save labour, to improve our conditions of life. It touches the heart of the vocation of human labour: in technology, seen as the product of his genius, man recognizes himself and forges his own humanity. Technology is the objective side of human action whose origin and raison d'etre is found in the subjective element: the worker himself. For this reason, technology is never merely technology. It reveals man and his aspirations [(technica ars numquam est tantummodo technica ars. Hominem ipsa ostendit eiusque . . . proclivitatem)] towards development [(ad progressionem)], it expresses the inner tension that impels him gradually to overcome material limitations. Technology, in this sense, is a response to God's command to till and to keep the land (cf. Gen 2:15) that he has entrusted to humanity, and it must serve to reinforce the covenant between human beings and the environment, a covenant that should mirror God's creative love."

But "technology can [also] be understood as a manifestation of absolute freedom, the freedom that seeks to prescind from the limits inherent in things. The process of globalization could replace ideologies with technology, allowing the latter to become an ideological power that threatens to confine us within an a priori that holds us back from encountering being and truth. Were that to happen, we would all know, evaluate and make decisions about our life situations from within a technocratic cultural perspective to which we would belong structurally, without ever being able to discover a meaning that is not of our own making."

     Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate (29 June 2009), part 6, secs. 69-70.  But as the Latin makes clear, these "aspirations" are but a single "proclivity," and that towards progress.  So the But of secs. 70 and following has to do with a potential corruption of that rooted in the desire for "absolute freedom".

"I am the resurrection and the life."

"All the efforts of technology [(technicae artis)], however beneficial, cannot allay human anxiety, and the prolongation of biological life [(biologica longaevitas)] cannot assuage the essential longing of the human heart for further life [(ulterioris vitae)]."

     Gaudium et spes 18, as trans. in Tanner.  But shouldn't "ulterioris vitae" have been rendered "the life to come"?  "ulterior" is not an especially biblical term, but 1) the contrast is between "longaevitas" on the one hand, and "vita" on the other, while 2) "ulterior" can mean "that which lies beyond" or "is still to come."

"he raiseth up the soul, and enlighteneth the eyes, and giveth health, and life, and blessing."

Ravenna, Museo Arcivescovile,
Cathedra of Archbishop Maximian
ἀνυψῶν ψυχὴν καὶ φωτίζων ὀφθαλμούς, ἴασιν διδούς, ζωὴν καὶ εὐλογίαν.

     Sir 34:20 DRA (=34:17 RSV).  DR 1610:  "exalting the soule, and illuminating the eies, giuing health, and life, and blessing."  Benjamin G. Wright's New English Translation (of the Septuagint) looks a bit closer to the Vulgate
exaltans animam et inluminans oculos dans sanitatem vitam et benedictionem
in some respects than to the Septuagint:  "one who uplifts the soul and enlightens eyes, gives healing of life and blessing."