Thursday, October 16, 2008

option 2

The ancient Greeks and Chinese philosophers were studying and writing about human nature in their writings. Thucydides found human nature to be main course of the aspects of politics. The world has changed a great deal since then and yet, human nature appears to have remained the same. It is undisputable that the latest discoveries of technology gave humanity a fourth dimension. The most precious of the gain of humanity through technology is communication and the possibility to travel faster than ever anywhere on the planet. Human nature is characterized by curiosity and inclination toward research. Humans always questioned everything and this was the chance for technology to thrive. Human nature is characterized by opposite features, like generosity and desire to do justice, but also by greed, self-interest, vanity and the pursuit of happiness. All these motivated scientists to look for answers, regardless of their reasons. Technology enhances people’s lives, makes capitalism possible since society is now able to reproduce itself over and over again, but it also makes alienation or even total destruction possible. Since the beginning of the industrial era, writers, scientists, and artists have written or created their works under the influence of the technological advances that were rapidly changing the world as they know it since the dawn of times. An example of alienation through advanced technology is the novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, written by Philip K. Dick. The human nature dictates people to care for animals and for their fellow men. When they find themselves in a world almost destroyed where living animals are to the point of extinction and the humanity is on the verge of destruction, people will find a way to replace their objects of care or those they intend to exercise power over. They will continue to care for animals or order someone around even if there are few animals less to care for and even fewer people they can employ to do jobs. They will find a replacement of those objects in artificially created animals and humans. The result will be total alienation from what the human spirit was supposed to be about in the first place. It becomes grotesque, disproportionate, but then the real world has experienced incredible wars and even more grotesque pictures resulted from reckless, careless, sometimes illogic human action.
Earlier, in the twentieth century, Nathaniel Hawthorne was also tackling the relationship between the technology and human nature, even if in a subtler war, as an adjacent theme beside the other themes of the novel. The principle of knowing one’s history in order to be able to shape one’s future, sustained by the classics is present in the romance’s character and the characters are greatly depending on the acknowledging of this fact. The Pyncheon family is doomed for over two centuries because of the crime committed by colonel Pyncheon, a prominent member of the society in the 1600s. The ignorance characteristic to the seventeenth century that lead to the trials and murders for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, encouraged the murder of hundreds of innocents. Two centuries later, the colonel’s family was still under the legacy the colonel ad is false testimony brought upon it, but technology changed a great deal of the way society moved and reacted. Approaching the climax, Hepzibah and her brother, Clifford Pyncheon, flee the city after Judge Pyncheon’s death. The railroad, a recent mean of transport developed by the technological advances, is the mean that brings them away from the obscure past, helps those who can see the difference, find their freedom. Fantasy intertwined with the most practical aspects of reality and the protagonists look at the world out the trains’ windows and find something completely different, even from what someone imagination could have predicts it would be like: “looking from the window, they could see the world racing past them. At one moment, they were rattling through a solitude; the next, a village had grown up around them; a few breaths more, and it had vanished, as if swallowed by an earthquake. The spires of meeting-houses seemed set adrift from their foundations; the broad-based hills glided away. Everything was unfixed from its age-long rest, and moving at whirlwind speed in a direction opposite to their own.” (Hawthorne, Ch 17). One of the wonders of technology, the railway, is described in the chapter where the two flee the town in a very poetic and yet very realistic style. The industrial revolution and then the railroads have opened the world to those who were willing to conquer it. An unprecedented possibility to get together, to unite forces, idea and ideals faster than ever before was created thanks to the wonderful invention of the steam engine. People and merchandise were suddenly able to reach every corner of the country. People were brought together, first under the same roof of a train and then in the places they were traveling to thanks to technological advancement. And people immediately seized this opportunity and traveled whenever they could and shipped their goods wherever they were needed or the market seemed to create the need for. There was the dawn of globalization and the modern times were asking that peoples of the world keep pace with the new technological conquers in order to stay in the competition. The keyword for the new era under the umbrella of globalization was “efficiency”.
Another field that comes into mind when talking about the relationship between technology and its influence on or relationship with the human nature and human destiny is that of economics. During the last two hundred of years, there has been a strong debate over the effects of globalization under the circumstances of the unprecedented technological advancement that was bringing states, governments and companies closer and closer together on a map that seemed to shrink more and more every year.
Frederock Winslow Taylor wrote his monograph, The Principles of Scientific Management, in 1911. A few years before the outbreak of World War I, the book is principally tackling subjects of managerial techniques under the modern view of a world under the influence of technological advancement. The author put the theories of the past in opposition with those he sees fit in a world where efficiency must be the primary concern of a state in order to be sure of his endurance. “In the past the prevailing idea has been well expressed in the saying that “captains of industry are born not made”; and the theory has been that if one could get the right man, methods could be safely left with him. In the future it will be appreciated that our leaders must be trained right as well as born right, and that no great man can(with the old system of personal management) hope to compete with a number of ordinary men who have been properly organized so as efficiently to cooperate”(Taylor, 1911). The author finds the rules of scientific approach absolutely necessary in the world of the twentieth century and presents his theory related to the system that has to replace the individual so that the whole society can function properly and have the chance to successfully develop. Technology has brought new opportunities for people to cooperate, to come together and exchange ideas. Technology has improved the standards of living for those living in advanced societies that had the opportunities to increase the efficiency of what natural resources they had in order to stay in the race of the powerful nations. At the beginning of the twentieth century people were still enjoying the marvelous discoveries of scientific research until the atomic bomb was created, thanks to the discovery of the dynamite and threatened to destroy the whole world at the push of a button. Taylor presents in his book what he considers to be the best solution for a scientifically created management of the workmen and machines that are involved in the production process.
The three authors presented above and their works were considering the different ways science and the results of scientific knowledge translated in the advance of technology influence human lives. Hawthorne saw technology positively influencing the lives of those taking advantage of it and helping them get out of the darkness of unknown; Dick was imagining a much more gloomy outcome of the combination between human nature and technology, while Taylor was presenting the importance of addressing the issues of prosperity in an industrial society benefitting the advantages of technology solely from the point of view of science.

1 comment:

Adam Johns said...

Your introduction is sprawling and chaotic, with an incoherent discussion of Greek philosophy (I have no idea what you're trying to do here), gradually leading into what seems to be a statement of your own ideas about human nature. Unfortunately, you make a great many claims about human nature without justifying or explaining any of them - they are all simply stated as facts. Finally, you bring up a plausible set of thoughts about PKD, but without really formulating them as an argument. You have compressed at least three paragraphs, which probably belonged in at least three different papers, into one monster, without even an identifiable thesis.

Your set of ideas or responses to Hawthorne are more articulate and focused than your introduction, and you even have some good lines about globalization, etc., but the central question remains - what are you trying ot accomplish here? You also don't seem to have much of a sense of the *irony* in Hawthorne - the fact that he is both skeptical and saracastic about the changes brought by the railroad. that doesn't mean you need to agree with him, but that it doesn't come up is troubling.

I feel like you could have possibly unified your paper around the idea of efficiency, which comes up in the Taylor section as well as the Hawthorne section. Your discussion of Taylor, though, reads more like a summary than an argument.

Here's what happens in your last paragraph: you are giving up on having an articulate *argument* of your own. You summarize your views of several different authors. This views aren't crazy, and they certainly show some understanding of each individual author here, but there is almost nothing here that actually addresses the prompt itself.