The Conversion of Nature and Technology (4)

Under the technological attitude the whole of nature (including man, insofar as he is conceived to belong to nature) for the first time becomes manifest as a field open to human organization and control. Nature appears as in principle subject to mastery, and science and technology become the means of establishing man's dominion over nature—the goal already clearly envisioned by Descartes. Knowledge becomes the means for achieving mastery; knowledge, that is, becomes technological. Nature, in turn, is to be known in order to be controlled.

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The Conversion of Nature and Technology (3)

Although, under the theoretical attitude, the dimension of the sustaining, overwhelming and ineluctable has been dislocated from nature to the metaphysical, still, societal institutions serve to establish a relationship between man and that dimension. The way to that which inescapably sustains and yet overwhelms man is not yet blocked. However, with the emergence of a new transformation of basic attitude (and, hence, of the life-world itself), a transformation beginning with the Renaissance and the birth of modern science, and which might be called the transformation to the “technological attitude,” a more nearly irreparable dislocation occurs of that dimension which nature once was.

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The Conversion of Nature and Technology (2)

Social institutions are the proven paths of man's life in the world. They are lines of communication and mediation between man and nature. The institutions of society, like the habits of the individual, are the avenues of man's goings in the world. Even the most esoteric religious doctrine remains in these avenues; it remains oriented toward the “practical” in that sense.

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The Conversion of Nature and Technology (1)

At the level of the life-world, nature is the ambiguous dimension of the overwhelming, the inescapable, and the sustaining, all in one. It is sustaining: It surrounds, pervades, and supports man. It is overwhelming: It constantly threatens, and occasionally without warning engulfs, man. It is inescapable: Both as sustaining and overwhelming, nature is ineluctable.


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