Modernity and the Mystical: Technoscience, Religion, and Human Self-Creation

Thomas A. Carlson

in Science, Religion, and the Human Experience

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195175325
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784707 | DOI:
 							Modernity and the Mystical: Technoscience, Religion, and Human Self-Creation

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This essay questions common assumptions about science as distinct from religion. Carlson starts by noting the intimate and practically inseparable connection between science and technology, arguing how “techno-science” is involved not only in producing knowledge of the world, but also a sense of what it means to be human. This sense of humanness involves a connection of techno-science and modernity in general, with the mystical realm usually associated with religion. Techno-science is understood precisely in the opposite sense as eliminating ignorance, of knowing (and mastering) all. Building upon the work of Weber and Heidegger, Carlson argues that this “will to mastery” is framed in the positing of an objective reality, which the knowing subject masters, based on the certainty of the knowing subject as framed historically in Protestant theology and the philosophy of Descartes. Yet, given the inaccessibility of much of the actual process of techno-science to most people, there is an important component of faith, Carlson cites the argument of Derrida that any authority is hence grounded on a “mystical foundation.” Carlson emphasizes that this act of human self-creation is based on an essential un-knowing of oneself, in particular, one’s destiny. The result, via our participation in increasingly powerful networks of knowledge and power, is a type of omniscience without comprehension of where we are heading-a sense of the human experience as conveying not finitude but infinitude, instability.

Keywords: Derrida; Heidegger; modernity; mysticism; omniscience; self-creation; techno-science; Weber

Chapter.  9935 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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