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An Interdisciplinary Proposal
Contents:
  1. Simon Glendinning & Alison Stone | The Aristotelian Society
  2. Petrified Intelligence: Nature in Hegel’s Philosophy
  3. European Philosophical History and Faith in God A Posteriori

Human thought is expressed through the technology it develops. This is because technology is the mediating factor through which human beings relate to the natural world. Marshall McLuhan, claims that all technology is a human extension.

Hegel would agree, as he sees the products of human labor, technology included, as our mind externalized in the world. Technology is, therefore, the art of human extension. Technology is the materialization of human thought and cognition. It is the means by which the human mind manifests itself in relation to the natural world. As technology engages with nature, nature provides feedback to the human being 22 through experience and reflection on this experience.

It is in this way that technology serves as a hybrid between cognition and nature. Unknown to most who use it, and to many who develop it, technology— as a product of the human mind— serves to bridge the distance between human thought and the natural world. As human thought is realized in the world through technological systems, human understanding is enhanced and progressively seeks closer unity with nature through the synthesis of technological and natural systems.

At first glance technology appears to be oppressive and foreign to nature. However, the oppressive relationship humans engage in towards nature cannot be maintained forever. It eventually becomes reconciled in the recognition of nature as a conscious rational entity from which we can learn from and engage with. Furthermore, because technology is the mediating factor between human beings and nature, new technological developments come to reflect this new understanding and relationship toward nature. There are two reasons why the human relationship to nature is shifting to become more sustainable.

First, because nature cannot remain divided with itself. That is, as human beings are part of nature, we cannot maintain an independent or dominating position toward it. Second, due to the influx of empirical data resulting from the damage of natural systems, it is necessary as the only occupiable position. In other words, I claim that the reconciliation of our relationship to nature is not only logically necessary, because nature as a rational systems will always move toward equilibration, but also physically necessary, because the historical human practices which have been seen to be destructive to natural systems, cannot be maintained forever.


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Until there is a resolution, in the form of empirical sustainability and a sustainable understanding of the human nature 23 relationship, the conflict between human systems and natural systems will continue to play itself out along these lines and possibly even more destructive ones. This is the result, I suggest, of a contradiction of the human understanding which produces in turn a contradictory relationship towards nature.

This contradiction is twofold. First, the form of rationality through which human beings understand the world and relate to it is conceptually flawed because it is based on an "instrumental rationality. What it seeks is the reduction of all things to their ratio of correspondence. I intend to show that this form of rationally relating to the world does not "correspond" — and thereby is not compatible — to the rationality of the natural world. This latter form of rationality is dialectical and systematic.

Simon Glendinning & Alison Stone | The Aristotelian Society

Second, this contradiction in human understanding is empirically flawed because the products and results of our actions based on this form of instrumental rationality are systematically destructive to the natural world. Technology is generated and formulated by the human intellect and then materialized as it is actualized in the world. After its actualization it is evaluated in accordance with human understanding, its productiveness in relation to human society, and by its effects on the natural environment.

Instrumentally based technology, which stands in a contradictory relationship to natural systems, is being reevaluated today for its effects on the external environment and its lack of natural symbiosis. This form of technology is typically recognizable from its environmental impact, as well as its inability to interact harmoniously with natural systems.

Instrumental rationality represents a logic and rationality of the human mind, and therefore conflicts with the logic of nature, harming it in various ways. Lewis Mumford claims that a great degree of cultural preparation was required before a technological mindset— that is, human beings relating to and understanding the natural world in a 24 technological manner— was able to take hold and dominate all of culture. This preparation, I suggest, was achieved from a basic desire that originated in the human mind and was secretly directing it throughout the ages.

Mumford states: The dream of conquering nature is one of the oldest that has flowed and ebbed in man's mind. Each great epoch in human history in which this will has found a positive outlet marks a rise in human culture and a permanent contribution to man's security and well-being Fire-making, agriculture, pottery, astronomy, were marvelous collective leaps: dominations rather than adaptations.

Rather than adapt, a specifically natural trait that suggests a dialectical progression, human beings attempt to dominate nature and bend it to their will. Therefore it seems that our next step in self-preservation will not be the further domination of natural systems, but rather of technological symbiosis with them. Mumford claims as much: "Our machine system is beginning to approach a state of internal equilibrium.


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Dynamic equilibrium, not indefinite progress, is the mark of the opening age: balance, not rapid one-sided advance: conservation, not reckless pillage. The option now presents itself for human beings to embrace and flourish the natural systems at work in the world, or to slip away slowly into oblivion, leaving behind only a legacy of misuse and ruination. Humans, as the highest mental stage of animal life, represent the negative of nature. The freedom of mobility and independence granted to the human being allows for human beings to effectively separate themselves from nature.

This is achieved through the mental abstraction of the human subject, and its assertion that it is somehow independent of the natural world. However, this negative relationship cannot be maintained. Rather, it is through the mediating force of the human extensions of technology that this contradiction can be overcome.

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Petrified Intelligence: Nature in Hegel’s Philosophy

As our Mumford, Technics and Civilization, Mumford, Technics and Civilization, In other words, technologies reflect our understanding of the natural world and thereby our relationship to it. If our understanding is one of humans in a dominating position separate from nature, and as the natural world as constituting only base entities stripped of all essence, then our technological relationship to nature will reflect that. If, on the other hand, our relationship is one of self-recognition with the natural world and of a systematic understanding of its relevance for us, then our technologies will likewise reflect this.

Biomimicry, I claim, is a technological development grounded in a revised concept of nature. As opposed to the modern concept of nature as base material, this new understanding recognizes nature as systemic and self-relational. Such a position offers an emancipatory possibility for human beings, nature, and technology. Like cognition, technologies are also developed from a needs based system. As human needs are fulfilled by the proper and efficient functioning of technologies, they become not only instrumental but seemingly inseparable to the operation of society.

Here lies the root of technological reliance. As the mediating factor between human beings and the natural world, as well as the fluid extension of the human being itself, technology proves itself as a feature of human existence. This is how technologies can come to define the human experience. Heidegger called this mindset "technological enframing. This is how we mediate our relationship to nature and overcome our perceived separateness from it. What is not fixed is the technological form by which the world comes to be enframed.

European Philosophical History and Faith in God A Posteriori

There is a great deal of difference between technologically enframing the world in accordance with dominating mindset that views it as base 57 Heidegger, "The Question Concerning Technology," The latter I argue is the technological stance of biomimicry. Perhaps the most important contribution Hegel makes to the understanding of consciousness and thus, I will argue, to biomimicry as well, is his articulation of a dialectical logic which I reconstruct in the first section of this chapter.

In the next section I present Hegel's theory of the development of consciousness. I trace the steps of this argument as Hegel himself presents them in the Phenomenology of Spirit The culmination of this development is the achievement of what Hegel calls absolute knowledge. It is at this point that the subject comprehending the world and the world, as a substance and collection of objects for the subject, collapses.

This understanding shows all of reality to be the rational unfolding of what Hegel calls "the Idea. This would mean that Hegel develops an ontology that follows from — or more accurately coincides with — a logical idea. Hegel can now, with a dialectical system in place, outline a system of development for nature. Hegel's theory is central to the claim that I am making regarding the philosophical foundation of biomimicry. The interrelatedness that comes out of Hegel's theory guides biomimetic development which is seeking an integration between natural systems and technological systems.