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Anthropology and Prudence
Humanism isn't enough.
People are fairly aware that something is going 'wrong' with technological development, even in the secular world. There is much talk about humanist design.
At first blush this seems good - instead of building machines for their own sake, we build them for ours. But what is our sake? What is good for man? What is man for? Where did he come from - where does he go? Humanely developing technology is not a technical problem or even just a political one - it is an anthropological one.
Good technology begins with good anthropology.
Most "humanitarian" efforts are concerned predominantly with man's physical well-being, and in particular, alleviating suffering. Most forms of physical suffering are well-understood: hunger, disease, war, inadequate shelter. Reducing these is good, but focusing on them can be a distraction or an excuse from the higher things, as Judas did when the woman perfumed Jesus' feet. The ends do not justify the means - we need balance.
Man is for union with God - cooperation with divine grace - the cultivation of virtue. He is the soil from which the virtues grow. This is lofty - poetic - beautiful, but by itself offers little more than the message of "reducing human suffering". What is needed is a well-developed anthropology - which is tied up with virtue, with prudence.
The sort of thinking we have in today's world - the air we breathe - is machine thinking. It is mathematic, calculating, and most importantly: all-encompassing; ideological. We seek to account for everything on a quest for a grand unifying equation of the world. No such theory is possible - both God and Godel will tell you that. There must be room for the transcendent. There must be room for dispensation.
Why is this? This is a core aspect of Catholic anthropology: just as Man needs God in order to partake in the divine life, the World needs Man to partake in reason. We must use our judgement and prudence rather than defer to machines. The artifacts we produce, we produce out of reason and they capture reason like a snapshot - a decaying snapshot. True reason always comes from God through Man. To think otherwise is a misunderstanding of our role in creation as steward, and to let our sense of prudence - among all the virtues - atrophy.
The virtues are built not by a sort of mathematical logic and reason (machine thinking) but by a long process of observation, decision-making, and study - and are then elevated by divine grace.
Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace.
We can’t outsource this to machines, and we need the Church for this elevating grace. We must keep man in the picture - but man as part of the Church; as the bride of Christ - otherwise we will be building a house that He cannot dwell in, that He will burn up utterly.