The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (III)

(a.1) The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (continued from part II)

The realization of the trend-association between The Feminine, The Masculine and The Earth1, from prehistory to (post)modernity, is important in so far as it stands in opposition to synthetic union of the two (male and female) and vice-versa, for no stable and self-improving social ordering (if that is to be the project) can be achieved in the midst of such an eventuality. Thus, a firm understanding of such concepts will allow those who are so inclined to shape the synthesis of these battered, archaic and spectral excogitations.

The Feminine and The Masculine aspects of the manifest image which we have hitherto excavated should not be thought of as mere aesthetic conventions but rather as mutably valid descriptor-encapsulations; that is to say, non-static and continuously snapshoted (and updated) groupings of normative gender behavior. Thomas Haigh’s Masculinity and Machine Man: Gender in the History of Data Processing2 here is useful for the purposes of reifying the validity of our basic conceptual structure. It is a widely held belief that women are rarely to be found within STEM3 work due to the instantiation of exclusionary norms initiated by the western (white) Christian patriarchal monastic system upon which modern universities are based4; whilst there is some truth to this, such a schema can not account in the slightest for gender parceling in science work which has risen up outside of the university system (nor can it account for any other field of work which arose outside of the monastic influence, either past or present). One science field which is not deeply tied to the university system is data processing. In Masculinity and Machine Man, Haigh illustrates the fact that women were present but scarce in STEM computing fields since the inception of the field, citing a 1960 survey conducted by Business Automation which looked at 500 data processing company’s and discovered that out of that number only two companies had female managers and only one company reported a female as a programming supervisor. Slightly under 15% of all programmers in the survey were women. Structural reasons account for the mass of male labor in the field, given that both forerunnering fields to administrative programming – punched card operation and system analysis – were staffed primarily by men; hence, a preexisting gender surplus. Yet, the fact that there are so few women in STEM cannot be adequately explained by only looking to one environmental factor in one particular field at one particular time, especially since women have, in more recent decades, proceeding the 60s, been highly encouraged and incentivized to take up positions in the sciences which were primarily the domain of men. Though the body of research on this issue is vast, much of it ignores potential or realized biological inclinations as a possible reason why, though roughly equally present in high-school science classes, women tend to pursue STEM majors in significantly lower numbers than their male counterparts5. As a general rule, women tend towards people-oriented fields whilst men tend towards mechanically-oriented fields; this is clearly a biological impulse with a number of evolutionary advantages but it is upon the issue of biology that many past and contemporary scholars falter. The aforementioned Mr. Haigh, for instance, only looks to environmental explanations (pay differentials, gender discrimination due to traditionalist attitudes, ego-spatial issues, corporate culture, etc) to account for why so few women in the 60s were to be found in elevated positions within the field of data processing.

For females on the plains of our ancestors, a proclivity towards people-orientation would be required for child-rearing and the mitigation of inter-tribal strife (proto-counseling); for males, a proclivity towards machinic invention would invariably aid the development of hunting, defense, warfare, foraging and domicile construction techniques. Then there is the matter of childbirth; women can get pregnant, men cannot, thus, in so far as a given population has sexual intermingling there will always be coupling and thus pregnancy and thus less women in the workforce, as they will need to take time off to have and care for their nestlings. Before proceeding we must deal with the false binary commonly referred to as “nature vs. nurture” when both attributions are part of a more complex whole; that is, genes express themselves differently in disparate environments6 (hence, race and along great timescales, species), but do not markedly differ along short-timescales. Consider the famous study of mono-zygotic identical twins Harold and Bernard Shapiro, both of whom went on to become the heads of major universities, Princeton for former and McGill for the latter7. Then there is the case of Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren; not only did both take up careers in newspapers, both specialized as advice columnists and bore remarkably similar political opinions8. Why these cases are so compelling for the purposes of demonstrating the centrality of the composition of the organism is through the fact that mono-zygotic twins are those who developed out of a single sperm which fertilized a single egg, which means they share the same genetic makeup. We shall not belabor the point; the biological expresses itself in tandem with its environment but the biological is the locus of any and all changes which can conceivably take place, whether it is expressed or not. Those who would contest this conclusion can only do so by spuriously trancendentalizing the mind (or biology generally), by reconceptualizing the human brain and it’s production (thought) as something nebulous which is, at most, only tangential to the organ.

1Here deployed as concept, not “as is.”

2Chapter for ‘Gender Codes,’ ed. Tom Misa, IEEE Press, 2010.

3STEM stands for: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics.

4Some worshipers of the Mother Goddess believe that neolithic societies were completely gender-egalitarian due in part or whole to the nature of their religion. Due this belief; they thus look to such societies as models for the future.

5Catherine Hill, et al.,Why So Few? Women In Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, p. xiv

6For further reading on this subject see, Garland Science, Chapter 8, Control of Gene Expression.

7Twin Studies: What Can They Tell Us About Nature & Nurture. p. 1

8Ibid., p. 1

The Inevitability of Technocentrism

The term “technocentrism” refers to a value systems that places a exceedingly high premium upon technology (in some variants, to the extent that it is second only to survival itself) and continuous technological development. The first thing to say about technocentrism is that the ideology is implicit or explicit in nearly every facet of modern industrialized society (primarily in Western and East Asian societies), the second is that it is rarely questioned and when it is the value system is generally questioned almost exclusively by obscenely anti-humanistic philosophers. The Norwegian philosopher Lars Svendsen (who I do not necessarily lump into the anti-human camp but who, below, certainly sounds like it) writes of the subject that:

Anthropocentrism gave rise to boredom and when anthropocentrism was replaced by technocentrism boredom became even more profound.

This is precisely the kind of boring, unspecific nonsense that one might expect of anonymous online neo-Luddites who brashly decry the evils of technology even as their ill-kept fingernails scamper like harried lambs across their keyboards, yet one does not expect it from a well published and erudite university professor (least I didn’t). Anthropocentrism – defined as the philosophy that mankind should place supreme importance upon himself and his own existence and continuation (above say, supernatural entities or animals and plants, ect.) – certainly gave rise to technocentrism – though not tech itself, obviously – but technocentrism itself has not given the world over to boredom, for after all, does the robotics engineer who labors half his life to program a walking, talking robot of potent and utilitarian application look upon his creation with listless vacuity? Do those who behold it? No. This is merely a excuse for snobbish, obscurantist anti-humanists to launch into a tirade about how mankind’s “reach exceeds his grasp,” a maneuver which is generally more to do with social status signally (“Lo, I decry man’s endless hubris because I am not near so foolhardy, I am a learned man of letters who has transcended all such earthly slag and material fixations in pursuit of far loftier goals. Also – please buy my book and donate to my Patreon and be sure to give me a like and subscribe and… you know it would be really great if you could scratch out a little Amazon review. K. Thanks.”) or some other such nonsense. For it is not to be thought that this is untrue, man’s reach does indeed exceed his grasp, the tragedy of the thing is that he has no choice but to reach. In point of fact, he never did.

What I mean by this is that, regardless of the potential risk posed by relentless technological innovation (one thinks instantly of the atom bomb, grey goo and AI drones), so long as mankind’s view of himself is anthropocentric he cannot help but also be technocentric as well. Why? Because of his fellow man. This is not meant as a value judgement but merely the axiomatic observation that so long as there is a tribe of peoples whom think of themselves as such that is surrounded by other tribes, there will always be other tribes who, in totality or partiality, seek to exploit or subsume their neighbors. There is a saying popularized by the British sci-fi author, Arthur C. Clarke that: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Against eldritch powers mere mortals haven’t the faintest chance.

The question one should pose is not whether or not we (the US, that is those of us who want, as yet the US to continue, albeit in highly modified form, to be) should be technocentric (our ultimate survival as a species depends upon it for we shall not reign over the earth forever as a matter of thermodynamic principle) but rather in what way we are to be technocentric. That is to say yes and no and maybe but probably not to certain technologies, to say, just because we can does not in any way mean that we should. That should itself should be predicated upon our survival and continued expansion as opposed to the quaint Natural State of the Luddite or the Peace on Earth of the protestant-turned-greenpeace. Anything else is a pitiful bowing down before the cosmos which, like man himself, is a thing to be conquered even as it is venerated.