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Always aim higher

A book encapsulates a discussion on culture and technology between a philosopher and a technologist

Polytechnic culture –. an all-inclusive culture entailing a kind of production and progress that is mindful and respectful of people and the environment. A culture that affects us all and should push us higher, not drag us back or down. Discussions revolving around new technologies, progress, the different manifestations of humankind, ways to untangle the knots of the present and weave a good quality fabric for the future are always difficult. Yet, they are also necessary, and some tackle them better than others.

This is the case of Maurizio Ferraris and Guido Saracco (a philosopher and a chemical engineer respectively), who, in their Tecnosofia. Tecnologia e umanesimo per una scienza nuova (Technosophy. Technology and humanism for a new science), pursue an unusual line of reasoning and, in just under 200 pages, reach a conclusion sought by many yet grasped by a very few.

The two premises printed on the book’s cover actually summarise its essence: “The most powerful drug available to unclothed primates is technology, and the most powerful technology is capital. The alliance between technology and humanism can enhance this capital to benefit all, transforming it into human wealth”. Capital, then. The authors look at its various forms, applying their respective academic and real-life backgrounds – philosophy on the one hand, and technology on the other. As a result, they carve an intellectual path that, through various stages, leads readers forward and up, and following the assumption that, in order to progress, humanity first has to deal with what is compared to a “broken lift”, the authors decide to pay particular attention to capital as the key tool needed to repair it. A very special tool indeed – not purely in technological terms but also in semantic (mindful of content and meaning), syntactic (attentive to structure and ways of acting) ones, without neglecting its human traits (human nature and all its different, extraordinary expressions). Further, a capital aware of its environmental, scientific and technological impact, and of its distinct human features, leading us to the attainment of two key principles: “From everyone, according to our skills. To everyone, according to their needs”.

The authors conclude that the more technology and humanism are able to work together, the more humanity can beneficially move forward on its path towards progress.

Maurizio Ferraris and Guido Saracco’s work offers a positive view of technology, seen as something intrinsically human since the dawn of time, and something that is able to preserve and multiply the value of material and cultural goods, to the benefit of future generations – as long as it is employed with care and discernment.

“This work does not really make for an easy read, yet readers should persevere, without preconceptions and commonplace prejudices, as it is a topic that affects us all. One of its conclusive sentences is particularly striking: “Progress is not a search for goodness in a world that never fully dispenses it, but it is an endless escape from evil; and while it is easy to disparage it, we should rather make the effort to preserve and enhance it, keeping our aims high”.

Tecnosofia. Tecnologia e umanesimo per una scienza nuova (Technosophy. Technology and humanism for a new science)

Maurizio Ferraris, Guido Saracco

Laterza, 2023

A book encapsulates a discussion on culture and technology between a philosopher and a technologist

Polytechnic culture –. an all-inclusive culture entailing a kind of production and progress that is mindful and respectful of people and the environment. A culture that affects us all and should push us higher, not drag us back or down. Discussions revolving around new technologies, progress, the different manifestations of humankind, ways to untangle the knots of the present and weave a good quality fabric for the future are always difficult. Yet, they are also necessary, and some tackle them better than others.

This is the case of Maurizio Ferraris and Guido Saracco (a philosopher and a chemical engineer respectively), who, in their Tecnosofia. Tecnologia e umanesimo per una scienza nuova (Technosophy. Technology and humanism for a new science), pursue an unusual line of reasoning and, in just under 200 pages, reach a conclusion sought by many yet grasped by a very few.

The two premises printed on the book’s cover actually summarise its essence: “The most powerful drug available to unclothed primates is technology, and the most powerful technology is capital. The alliance between technology and humanism can enhance this capital to benefit all, transforming it into human wealth”. Capital, then. The authors look at its various forms, applying their respective academic and real-life backgrounds – philosophy on the one hand, and technology on the other. As a result, they carve an intellectual path that, through various stages, leads readers forward and up, and following the assumption that, in order to progress, humanity first has to deal with what is compared to a “broken lift”, the authors decide to pay particular attention to capital as the key tool needed to repair it. A very special tool indeed – not purely in technological terms but also in semantic (mindful of content and meaning), syntactic (attentive to structure and ways of acting) ones, without neglecting its human traits (human nature and all its different, extraordinary expressions). Further, a capital aware of its environmental, scientific and technological impact, and of its distinct human features, leading us to the attainment of two key principles: “From everyone, according to our skills. To everyone, according to their needs”.

The authors conclude that the more technology and humanism are able to work together, the more humanity can beneficially move forward on its path towards progress.

Maurizio Ferraris and Guido Saracco’s work offers a positive view of technology, seen as something intrinsically human since the dawn of time, and something that is able to preserve and multiply the value of material and cultural goods, to the benefit of future generations – as long as it is employed with care and discernment.

“This work does not really make for an easy read, yet readers should persevere, without preconceptions and commonplace prejudices, as it is a topic that affects us all. One of its conclusive sentences is particularly striking: “Progress is not a search for goodness in a world that never fully dispenses it, but it is an endless escape from evil; and while it is easy to disparage it, we should rather make the effort to preserve and enhance it, keeping our aims high”.

Tecnosofia. Tecnologia e umanesimo per una scienza nuova (Technosophy. Technology and humanism for a new science)

Maurizio Ferraris, Guido Saracco

Laterza, 2023