Ellul, Bataille, Zhuangzi & Technological Man

Justin Lewis

Abstract


The impact of modern technological society on the human spirit and on human values is undeniable. But the ability to philosophically engage with this impact and also to gain the means whereby we could evaluate it lucidly and soberly is a whole other matter. It is difficult for us today to find a place where we could stand outside the contemporary cultural matrix that has come to create our very selves, so as to identify and assess the aspects of our humanity that have always managed to outstrip the cultural conditioning and construction of our most basic senses of identity and self. This paper will take this as a central theme by briefly looking at three specific philosophers of culture and humanity, and will explore their insights on the concepts of technology, culture, utility, and efficiency. By extension, all the perspectives outlined here will also imply a philosophical portrayal of the condition of contemporary man therein. Through examining some specific writings of Jacques Ellul, Georges Bataille and the Chinese sage Zhuangzi, as they bring to bear on these aforementioned concepts, it is my contention that we will be in a better position to assess the relationship between the human spirit, technology and society in general, as well as explore the ways in which we can reclaim the inalienable and fundamental existential sovereignty of the human spirit in particular.


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