Life-world and Technological Consciousness
Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune
One of the unique features of a human being is her capacity for self-reflection and self-consciousness. What is consciousness? How far is it unique to humans? How does it shape the world around us, including the technology? In turn, how does contemporary technology shape us? How does technology enable us to experience (“erleben”) life differently? How is our life-world shaped by your technological consciousness? These are some of the questions we raise in this paper.
Of all the pursuits of human kind, the understanding and exploration of consciousness offers the most likely opportunity for us to realize a civilization oriented towards cooperation, compassion, sustainability, and respect for life. Awakening to higher states of consciousness is the process by which a person, or a collective, can re-organize their identity from an ego-centric material orientation to a level of awareness that is capable of holding many perspectives.
Only with an evolution in awareness can we discover the ever-greater and deeper aspects of ourselves- including our life-world – the collective way we experience our world!
Consciousness might be described as the quality or state of awareness that human beings have of themselves, their environment and their surroundings, including sensation, thought, feeling and intuition. Consciousness functions on many levels, including the dream states, the sub-conscious mind, the ever-present observer mind, waking consciousness, and many meditative and spiritual states of awareness. It is dynamic, always changing throughout the day, and continuously evolving throughout life.
Everything is both a mirror and a reflection of something else, and the technological world that we’ve constructed is a glimpse at our inner universe. It shapes our “we-subjectivity”. The way we use technology is analogous to how the mind interacts with nature, collects and stores sensory data, formulates ideas and adapts to surroundings. Humans first dominated nature by studying and imitating the workings of the natural world, and this process has evolved into a symbiotic relationship where the evolution of the species is heavily warped by our own invention. Now we are totally dependent on technology for survival and for any further evolution.
As such, it is enlightening to consider just how similar the human mind is to the computer, the core technology contributing to the evolution of human consciousness most by enabling communication to occur at synaptic speeds.
As such, technology was first used as an extension of our senses. Then it developed further as a means to explore and even enhance our consciousness (google, social-network, etc). now the challenge is: Does technology shape, control and covertly manipulate our consciousness?
Thus the relationship between human consciousness and technology is complex and multifaceted. Nanotechnlogy, NBIC convergence and above all neurology, which are fast expanding sciences, will affect our collective consciousness. This paper makes a modest attempt to explore the ambivalent relationship between human life-world and our consciousness. It also suggest some ways of dealing creatively and critically with our incredible technological progress! It studies how such technological progress can widen or deepen our life-world. We also study some of the epistemological and phenomenological aspects of today’s technology.