Technology & Desire: Learning From the Ancients
Has the extreme proliferation of technology satisfied human desires? Assuming the answer to be no, how are we to understand the essence of technology as it is related to human nature?
Our contemporary lives demonstrate how technology constitutes our daily actions, thoughts, our choices, and in a way, who we are. But have we been otherwise? Taking our cue from ancient literature, can we recognize ourselves in these historical texts, today?
The great Indian epic, The Mahabharata, was composed around ~600 BC. The ancient text addresses a time when the existing world order appears to be crumbling. Not only has the traditional political order been swept away; meritocracy, values, and ethics no longer hold sway. Society is in a process of dissolution; and a powerful king asserts his absolute power, outraging basic lawfulness (dharma).
Containing a critique of technology, rampant materialism, and self-serving individualism, the epic appears surprisingly contemporary. It offers philosophical insight into how humans can flourish in a time of complete upheaval.
In this Olio we will attempt to understand and analyze our situation as Americans and humans in light of the Mahabharata. We will analyze contemporary democratic society which is based on the virtues of freedom and prestige rather than obligation, tradition, and merit and see if we can find contemporary relevance in this ancient text.
Teacher: Vishwa Adluri
Vishwa holds PhDs from the New School and University of Marburg, Germany. He recently published ‘The Nay Science’ and is the author of many books and articles. Dr. Adluri teaches courses on: Approaches to Religion, Indian Philosophy, Christian Theology, Mysticism, Hinduism, art history and The Religious Meaning of Death. He has been thinking about Space, Time, and Death since he was 5.
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