The Ideology of Technologyrnby Thomas MolnarrnThe technological age has been in gestation since the laternMiddle Ages, when the Sorbonne professors (Oresme,rnBuridan), the Catalan Ramon Lull, and the German Nicholasrnof Cusa directed their quest away from the Scholastic philosophyrnof essences toward a method that explores relationships.rnThis quest was at the heart of modernity, and for centuriesrngreat thinkers subscribed to its objectives, trying to refinernmethod. It followed that in the 17th century the mechanicalrnsciences with their mathematical ideal conquered the foremostrnminds, lay and ecclesiastical alike. The former (Descartes,rnHobbes) saw in method the key to an ideal society (utopia)rnbased exclusively on reason and calculable appetites (social calculus);rnthe latter (Malebranche, Mersenne) saw in the mechanicalrnlaws of the universe proof of God’s reliability as a master-rnmechanic, a supreme watchmaker. (Gusanus, two centuriesrnbefore, had made room for a “geometrical god,” which was torninspire Copernicus and Galileo.) Only Pascal, Leibniz, andrnBossuet pointed out the other, nonmcchanical, dimensions ofrnGod and the universe.rnThese brief preliminaries help us to measure the social—andrnideological—impact of technology. It is easy to assert thatrntechnology is an assemblage of neutral instruments that providesrnshortcuts to generally desired goals. If this were the case,rnif technologues did not aim at organizing a smoothly functioningrnsociety and developing the appropriate mentality to runrnit, technology would have no opponents. After all, we nornlonger subscribe to the ancient Greek ethos according to whichrnThomas Molnar’s latest hook is The Church, Pilgrim ofrnCenturies (Eerdmans).rnthe task of free men is to govern the polity and engage inrnphilosophical contemplation—but not to undertake action inrnthe areas of the ars mechanica, the techne. Nor did medievalrnman object to useful technical inventions for harnessing arnhorse’s shoulders rather than neck, or to improved methods ofrndeep-mining, of powering mills, etc.rnIf contemporary thinkers rebel against technology, the reasonrnmust be sought in the role that technology has assumed inrnthe modern era: the replacement of social authority and moralrnprinciples by exclusively rational arrangements. Put otherwise,rntechnology is suspect in the elimination of the mysterious,rnthe spontaneous, the incalculable—and in the rise of the homogenizedrncommon denominator and what we called abovernthe social calculus.rnThe latter has seductive aspects, and not everybody sees inrnit the work of “terrible simplifiers.” As a tool of ad-hoc problem-rnsolving or long-range planning—from oil exploration tornspace ships to medical cloning—technology does indeed appearrnan overall facilitator of human existence, indispensablernand innocent. Some of technology’s anxious critics—^ArnoldrnGehlen, for example—are so fascinated as to provide a quasijustificationrnfor it. Accordingly, the technological age is the culminationrnof the self-sustaining activity of the Homo Faberrnwho, by degrees from food-gathering and hunting, has achievedrntotal control of his surroundings. That technology may be finalrnis not only Gehlen’s alarmed conclusion; Helmut Schelskyrnwas even more pessimistic, perceiving the use of technology inrnsocial and intellectual manipulation. Quite a few others havernaccepted similar anti-technological lines of argumentation,rnand their number is perhaps growing with the recent applica-rnJULY 1993/27rnrnrn