Technology and Philosophy

Technological innovation without philosophical evolution is not progress. I have written that before and, once again, I am back at it. I believe we all need to adopt this phrase as a mantra going forward.

We live in a time when technological advancement is increasing more rapidly with each passing day. Yet, our understanding of what to do with that technology is often stagnant. Frankly, at times it appears nonexistent. We create elaborate technologies and processes in a variety of fields, often not examining the reasons we created these things in the first place.

Take medicine for example. How many times do we seek a medical intervention – often relying on advanced technology – when a low tech solution, addressing the challenge directly, would most likely have worked?

We live in a time when many of us are overfed and undernourished. Countries around the world are confronted with the challenge of overweight and obese populations when, just a few decades back, the challenge was not having enough food to eat.

With obesity and bad eating patterns come a host of maladies. How often are these maladies addressed via education, good nutrition and exercise and how often are they dealt with using pills? A well regarded physician I spoke with, a couple of years ago, talked of us living in a time of “a pill for every ill.” Medicines certainly have their place. Yet, they are not a replacement for a philosophy that leads us to live according to the true needs of our bodies, minds and souls.

Biotechnology cannot adequately replace the need to live according to the dictates of our biology. Social media is a poor replacement for socializing – meaning actually being in front of people and interacting with them. Transportation technologies that get us from one place to another quicker do not teach us to enjoy the journey and savor what we see along the way.

Technology, in and of itself, is neither bad nor good. Technology is a tool. Used properly, in concert with a well-developed philosophy of living, it can be a great boon. Used improperly and devoid of a carefully cultivated philosophical outlook, it can lead us into a trap of seeking ever more technology to correct the ongoing errors in living we are making.

A hammer is a wonderful tool. We can use it to help builds homes for people who have none. However, a hammer can also be used to hit and harm. Education, leading us to develop workable, reasonable ways of being and visions for the future – call this an overarching philosophy of living – can help us achieve true progress.

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