Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Cloudworks: a Socratic phenomenology
Reflecting on the internet application <Cloudworks>. As all technological tools,* Cloudworks serves the primary--hence underlying, hence tacit--aim, not merely of "connecting" users, but of "grounding" them, or rather of "re-grounding" them, i.e., of transporting/translating them from a defective or inadequate platform (viz. the uncontrolled arena of nature) onto an adequate (because systematically or clinically controlled) platform, which is as controlled as it is abstracted from the natural condition of man as man. Only thus is it possible to set up a network of "pure tools" systematically concealing their essential aim or "inherent value."
The value of the tool is supposed to be assigned, not merely by the virtue of its user, but by the number of users or the degree to which the tool succeeds in connecting the greatest number of users (likewise, the "meaning" of the tool is supposed to be determined by the "power"--impact, relevance, etc.--of the audience, rather than by the "quality" or inherent worth of the audience). What is crucial here is a mechanically quantifiable datum directly dependent upon the essential aim of technological tools simpliciter, namely the regrounding of mankind onto a purely quantifiable (ergo, controllable) platform.
Here art does not merely imitate nature (or the essential working of nature); art--the new "technological" art--replaces nature. Or rather, wanting to replace nature, technology eclipses nature, which is to say, first of all, human nature. Only thus could a "successful" blogger connected to Cloudworks invite "'Socratic Tooling' to solve your learning problems and issues" (http://zaidlearn.blogspot.com/2008/04/free-learning-tool-for-every-learning.html). Here "Tooling" is a verb. Its "user" does not appear to be aware that the proper import of his verb is essentially anti-Socratic; he does not appear to be aware that Socrates was not a Deweyan pragmatist--that Socratism was opposed by Dewey, no less than by Machiavelli, for an "essentialism" tying means back to their original ends ("the Ideas"). With respect to modern technology, there is hardly anyone less progressive (and thus at once less reactionary) or revolutionary than Socrates--that eminently untechnological concentric artist.
* Modern "technology" is essentially distinct from mere "technique". Antiquity has "tools" intended to solve solvable/definite empirical problems (sealing a leaking roof, crossing a river, building a house, etc.). Modern technology in its very idea "expands" technique in function of a new guiding principle, namely that of "infinite progress," entailing the promise to overcome, not merely this or that particular obstacle to human survival, but the very natural horizon on which man's survival is threatened. In this sense, technology is essentially the Way through which modern man hopes to overcome (via control) nature. But, as such, technology is at once also the Aim of modern man qua modern: technology is intended in its ideal perfection as the self-realization of a world in which man--via collectivization--is absolute master of his destiny. Conversely collectivized-man can be master of his destiny only where nature has been fully replaced by art, i.e. only with the consummate incorporation of nature (including human nature) into Technology.