From human to automaton. This is the risky transformation to which modern man goes against him, in an attempt to adapt his behaviour to the effectiveness of standard procedures. Man becomes outdated thing, the model is now the machine with its linear operation, efficient and smoothly. Quite the opposite of human nature, so complicating and problematic, so immersed in metaproblematic. We are in the age of transhumanism and post-humanism (Ranisch, Songner, 2014). But how can man continue to maintain his humanity, if he is the one who paddles against his very nature? Are we sure that, really, it just works?
Pietro Piovani reminds us that thanks to the hitches you can have a great unveiling. The unexpected, the problem is the place where each of us can experience great discoveries or great tragedies. It is precisely these indispensable dialectical experiences that lead man to grow. In addition to the problems, however, one cannot forget another wider dimension that is part of everyone's life: the metaproblematic, the mystery, the riddle.
With his tendency to objectify everything, modern man has circumscribed the metaproblematic, exorcising it. While the problem is something external that can be analyzed and solved, the mystery is something that understands us and in which we are immersed. In other words, we cannot distinguish the boundaries of mystery and our own, since we are ourselves a mystery. Just think of the meaning or origin of life; as Fromm sums up, “man is an animal for whom his very existence is a problem to be solved.”
Modern man, however, has acquired the logic of linearity from the use of technological devices. This led to “a new definition of man seen as an “information processor” and nature, seen as “information to be processed” (Bolter, 1985, pp. 20-21). The big mistake is to think that man's mind works exactly like a computer. The difference is substantial and luds in their own different ontology.
Computer programs are made using a formal language, a language that does not take into account the meaning of its symbols, but merely follows syntactic rules. The language that man uses, on the other hand, is far from being a formal language. Men need to give meaning to things, men are semantic devices (Biuso, 2008). Man thinks, speaks and seeks to give meaning to the reality that surrounds him and therefore “the need for reason is not inspired by the search for truth but by the search for meaning” (Arendt, 1987, p. 97).
The human being tends to unnecessarily complicate everything, Piovani reminds us. The reason for this is that it is precisely in this complicating nature that man manages to create a space of freedom. Only by intervening on the surrounding, modifying and complicating it, each of us can feel really free. Freedom, in fact, is not a free gift, but an unrelenting and difficult effort to achieve, especially in a society like today. Each individual has the feeling of being free, but in reality “follows spasmodically the gestures that the social field proposes to him: make money, consume and “enjoy”[…] . He is free to give his life the sense he wants, and in most cases gives only the sense in progress, that is, the sense of the indefinite increase in sensory stimuli” (Castoriadis, 1996, p. 72).
In this linear flow, incessant and noisy, the existential proposal of ethics is to return to valuing the nature of man, in the beauty of his contradictions, in his mystery, in his problems and in his unexpected. Man is not a cold device that works according to formal, functional and decontextualized procedures. “The human being his programs can change them even without reason, without warning. It may even have as a program not to make any program” (Fabris, 2018, p. 60). The perspective of ethics is that of the right to futility and return to silence, that silence so full of content, truth, authenticity , see on this point And time is silent.
At the same time that man opens himself to silence and embraces all the mystery of which he is charged, he opens himself up at the event, at the meeting. The event is something that we cannot foresee, that escapes our desire for control and programming. In the event man experiences his limitations, losing the privileged position of subject. The event is the place of encounter with the other, with the diversity of the other and it is in the other that man meets himself.
“A meeting is an event that alters, modifies, makes discontinuous, the ordinary and linear flow of time. The meeting is a watershed between a first and a by. […] It wasn't planned. The meeting is in the order of the event. The event is in the unexpected order; of the impossible that miraculously becomes possible”: with these words, Massimo Recalcati describes the amorous encounter within his program Lexicon Amoroso .
Love, therefore, has to do with the mystery, with the unexpected, with the ineffable. In other words, with metaproblematic, that dimension that can be expressed well only through silence, with which man recognizes his limitations and becomes aware that there is much beyond what he can express through language. Wittgenstein said: “This, which cannot be talked about, must be silenced”; “There really is ineffable. It shows itself, it is the mystic.”
That's why it's not enough to work. It would be a pity if man, falling into the logic of linearity and functioning, lost his characteristic essence. This does not mean leading a crusade against technological progress or the dynamics that support it. It simply means not generalizing its logic to all areas of life, taking care to cultivate our humanity and its metaproblematic nature. To do so means to listen to silence, to be open to encounter, to love, to communication, to beauty.
“But you know what men are? Miserable things that will have to die, more miserable than worms or leaves”; “They are poor worms but everything between them is unexpected and discovered. You know the beast, you know the god, but no one, not even the other of us, we know the bottom of those hearts. Only by living with them and for them do you enjoy the taste of the world” (Pavese, 1947, pp. 146-147)
- Arendt, Hannah. 1987. The life of the mind. Bologna: The Mill
- Biuso, Alberto. 2008. Semantic devices. Catania: Maori Village
- Bolter, Jay, David. 1985. Turing's man. Western culture in the computer age. Parma: Practices
- Castoriadis, Cornelius. 1996. The imaginary institution of society. Torino: Bollati Boringhieri
- Fabris, Adriano. 2018. Ethics for information and communication technologies. Rome: Carocci
- Fromm, Erich. 1971. On the side of man. Investigation into the psychology of morality. Rome: Astrolabio Ubaldini
- Pavese, Caesar. 1947. Dialogues with Leucò. Turin: Einaudi
- They are pious, Peter. 2010. For a philosophy of morality. Milan: Bompiani
- Ranisch, Robert & Sorgner, Stefan. 2014. Post- and Transhumanism: An Introduction. Frankfurt: Lang
- Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1974. Tractatus logical-philosophicus. Turin: Einaudi