Human beings are endowed with immense power: the creativity. This is the single reasons why human beings have been considered by scientists and religious alike to be the highest level of existence on this planet earth. They are considered to be at the pinnacle of evolution or creation because the power of creativity they wield has almost unlimited capabilities.
This power has enabled us to dominate, subdue and rule over other creatures and fellow human beings alike. The power of creativity has enabled us to invent new things and ideas which have either become dangerous and very useful to us (Jacobs 10 – 100).
Without this power, the world probably be an empty planet full of creatures of uniform intelligence; the world would have a homogenous mass of living souls leading simple lives devoid of understanding even the existence of their own shadows. By and large, it cannot be claimed with any amount of certainty that human beings have given good account for this immense power that they possess (Stegner 31 – 45).
Lives have been saved and lost, wars have started and peace restored while new bright ideas and demonic ideas have sprang up alike. This point to one thing: the power we so possess can either be used for good and bad purposes alike. It can be used to create or destroy.
This lays bare a philosophical line of thought, one that opines that “if a thing can be done, it must (ought to/ surely will) be done”. This is the philosophy of technological imperative.
This paper aims at looking at the validity, and necessity of this principle. It seeks at answering such questions as: is this principle obligatory? Is it desirable or inevitable? It aims at determining whether technological imperative is a logical or conceptually flawed principle invented by people seeking to justify their actions.
By its definition, technological imperative puts human beings at the centre stage of defining the fate of things, other creatures including fellow human beings. This is because we have the power of creativity to devise ways and means to put the lives of fellow humans, other creatures, things and events at our own mercy.
Yes, it can be done because it is possible but the question that begs an answer is: will we do it? Must we do it? Take for example a house maid left alone with a one year old sweet baby whose cruel parents have gone to work. Left alone with this baby, the house maid is capable of doing anything she feels like to the baby because the baby is helpless in her hands. She can decide to feed, clean and sooth her sweet slumber land.
Or she can strangle her to death or worse still chop her into little pieces and flash her down the toilet. She has the motive to do such horrific acts to the baby because the baby’s parents mistreat her but the question is: will she do it? Is she justified when she kills the baby? Will her choices be valid? Are choices obligatory or mandatory?
If the scenario was different and the parents were helpless in the house help’s hand and at her mercy who ends up avenging for pain they have caused her, will her actions be considered desirable or inevitable, or both or neither? Even though she is capable of causing harm to the baby, it will not be justified at all because human beings have a conscious and that is what sets us apart from the rest of the creatures.
The power of creativity that we possess as human beings does just emanate as a single entity; it operates with the power of reasoning. Either choice: to kill or not kill baby or her parents are based on reasons but their validity is justified only by own conscious mind which qualifies reasons to be good or bad.
It qualifies actions to be desirable, inevitable, both or neither. And in the same breath, it does so to the principle of technological imperative. Hence, just like killing either the parents or baby for revenge purposes will not be necessary and has invalid reason, technological imperative principle will also be obligatory and invalid in some cases.
That is, the choice of preserving their lives will be valid and necessary, thus technological imperative principle will be logical, valid and not self-serving because the power of conscious goal has prevailed (Margret 417).
Thus, despite its seemingly nature of a design for an apparatus or the apparatus itself, technological imperative has no such physical nature. Technological imperative is the unstated conclusion an argument: an argument that if can be done, it must (ought to/surely will) be done.
A belief that living things are or less like machines or artifacts, the philosophy of mechanism views such living things as comprising of parts without any basic relationship with one another. Considered to be the center of the universe, living things and thus, the universe as a whole, are governed by mathematical laws (Cardwell 104 -135). They are thus reducible to principles of matter in motion or at rest.
Reduced to just matter or its smallest elements such as waves, particles and other entities, the actions of living things are compelled from without and not from within. These actions are derived from an external influence controlling the various parts singly and not the body as a whole.
Though have different essences such as local doctrine and universal mechanism, they both hold one view that living things are mechanical in nature. However, such views are incompatible with free will as we human beings believe that we control our own destiny through choice and decision.
As a consequence of mechanism, human beings cannot be held responsible for their actions. Mechanism is of the opinion that the much talked of and championed for free will or human autonomy is an illusion. Thus, every action of human beings like the aforementioned scenarios on technological imperative, will be justified o matter the outcome.
Such views should be feared as leaving our fate and destiny in the hands of something we have no control over is a dangerous precept. What if the mathematical laws decide that we cannot perform basic actions such as feeding, and such like activities? What if the laws that we cannot control decide that we strangle ourselves or others ending our or their lives?
This concept should not be accepted since the true measure of human beings is our ability to control ourselves hence, our actions. This ability to control our actions allows us to own up to our actions; it allows human beings to take responsibility for their actions (Margret 17 – 39).
The ability to own up to our actions is born out of free will; a determinism that the events that occur in the universe are as a result of actions undertaken out of free will and not while being controlled by some external forces. As a human being, I personally believe that owning up to our own actions is not a personal problem; it is a choice we as humans make. We can choose to accept our responsibilities or deny them.
Human beings are not some artifacts or machines with disintegrated parts working independently. We are indeed living things with numerous body parts working in coordination with each other. The brain, the numerous organs, tissues and cells all work in coordination to bring about action that would be judged by the brain to be either right or wrong. Nothing is mechanical but rather, they merely just unknown to human beings.
All in all, while it is true that we possess power; the power of creativity, we have the freedom and power of reason too to do good or bad with it (Margret 417). The principle of technological imperative advocates for free will and in the process discredits the philosophy of mechanism. If viewed as machines or artifacts under the control mathematical laws, human beings would not be obliged to validate their actions.
Their actions will not be obligatory but rather mandatory. The mechanism philosophy takes away the role of the conscious mind since machines or artifacts lack such abilities. Personally, I believe that the mechanism philosophy is propagated by those who do not want to own up to their actions. They use it as an excuse to misbehave and later blame it on their mechanical nature.
Thus the argument behind the principle of technological imperative though may only be valid in selected scenarios, does indeed disqualify the mechanism principle. By asserting that “if something can be done, it must (ought to/surely will) be done”, it removes the mechanical nature of living things human beings included. It gives human beings the ability of free will and hence gives them the ownership of their action.
Cardwell, Donald Stephen Lowell. Wheels, Clocks, and Rockets: A History of Technology. Norton: Norton Publishers, 1995. Print.
Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House, 2011. Print.
Jacobs, Margret. Scientific Culture and the Making of the Industrial West. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Print.
Jacobs, Margret. The Scientific Revolution: A Brief History with Documents. Bedford: Bedford St. Martins, 2009. Print.