15 Mar

I’ve been jumping between theories lately:

Is technology dictating social change?

Or is social change responsible for technological development?

I haven’t been close to an answer, not even. Instead, I’m on the fence, tossing up the weight or weightlessness of each. However, I did come to the realization that to understand what element is affecting what, we need to understand the self. Because we are society. Society is us.

Hegel, a psychoanalysis says that the self is born out of itself. Individual identity and self-consciousness must be faced by itself in order to exist, “to supersede its own self, for this other self” (Hegel 1977: 112).

This is a complex and hostile relationship. Believe me its tense.

However there are many factors here that allow me to make sense of my first two questions. Our current self must face a ‘new’ self, lets say, the technology loving self. The new self must supersede the current self in order to exist. This is an example of people becoming cultivated by what is happening around them. Hegel further contends, “although, as consciousness, it does indeed come out of itself, yet though out of itself, and the self outside it, is for it…” (Hegel 1977: 112). Therefore we must ‘develop’ and change, because our self-consciousness demands us to. So it can exist.

Noe, a modern philosopher also argues that consciousness is a key element in understanding the impacts of technology on society. Arguing, “consciousness, experience, even life isn’t something that happens in us, or happens to us”. So it must happen outside us. Just as Hegel argues. Our relationship with our self and the world around is forever changing, faced with hostility and instability, “A human being, like every living being, is a locus of densely interwoven coupling with the world around us. We make consciousness dynamically, in our exchange with the world around us.”

So are we just afraid to admit that we are affected by technology and it is affected by us? Why? Because we aren’t as powerful as we think.

Our environment, our very way of forming our own self-identity is based around a complex message system. It imposes on humans ways of thinking, feeling and certain behavior.  We are cultivated, embodied in a way of behaviorism, constructed by our circumstances and our want to be self-conscious.

Another theorist, Lacan says that we need to “establish a relation between organism and its reality”. Our reality is an ecology, bits working together as a whole, a proliferation of models. What is stable is just slow to change. We have established relationships between technology because it is a reality. Hence the importance placed on its impact on us.

Both Hegel and Noe argue that our identity changes and supersedes itself, as does our environment. Nothing is stable. Thats why technology, society and culture is of such a cyclical nature.

So… can I answer yes, to both my questions?

So far i’m going with yes.



Hegel, F. ‘Lordship and Bondage’ in Phenomenology of Spirit, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1977. (orig 1807), pp 111-119.

Lacan, J. ‘The mirror stage as formative of the function of the I as revealed in psychoanalytic experience’, Ecrits: A selection, Norton, New York, 1977 (orig 1949) pp 1-7.

Noe, sourced from: http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2010/12/10/131945848/does-thinking-happen-in-the-brain


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