“Human Wholeness”

“Human wholeness” seems to be a central theme in Bookchin’s “Towards a Liberatory Technology”. He deems the true issue in new technology as to whether it can help “humanize” society. As I discussed in an earlier blog post, it seems as if our readings can be divided into two general lines of thinking: those of “inventors” and those of “humanists”, and Bookchin seems to fall into the latter category. Tagore, Schumacher, and Gandhi all touch upon this idea of human “wholeness” and what it means to be “human”.

In addition to the theme of “humanism”, Bookchin often discusses “creativity”. He writes that technology can play a significant role in the formation of personality, and that every art has its “technical side”. Further, he mentions that “Art would assimilate technology by becoming social art, the art of the community as a whole”. Thus, Tagore may view such an idea as productive to conquering “limited reality” (which I found similar to the idea of Bookchin’s formation of “personality”) and achieving the “Creative Ideal”. Schumacher notes (from a Buddhist point of view) that it is erroneous to consider consumption more important than creative activity, and that “the less toil there is, the more time and strength is left for artistic creativity.” In a similar vein, Bookchin notes that, in a liberated society, technology will not be negated, but used to “remove the toil from the production process, leaving its artistic completion to man”. I found his quote — “The machine, in effect, will participate in human creativity” particularly interesting, as it gives notable agency and “human-ness” to technology.

While I do believe that Bookchin has a significantly more optimistic view than of new technology than Gandhi, they both share an interest in the “liberation” of man and its connection to technology. I enjoyed how Buckchin symbolized “liberatory technology” as the abolition of mining, as mining is “man’s image of hell”. Perhaps more than the other authors we’ve read, Bookchin places much emphasis on the natural world, which he claims we must reintroduce into our human experience to achieve “human wholeness”.

1) Bookchin’s vision is wrong in a sense that, while much toil has been removed from the production process with the introduction of new technology, more work has been required of workers (technology workers). He envisions that artistic creativity is, to the delight of its workers, added after the toil of work has been completed. How is this view problematic?

2) Creativity seems to be a distinctly “human” trait and a theme shared amongst many of the authors we’ve read. Can machines really participate in human creativity? Can machines be “creative”, and can they replace human creativity? (In other words, what the hell does “creativity” even mean?)