... “what we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.” If you seek to conquer nature, you will eventually run into the realization that humanity is just another part of nature and, thus, the last realm to be conquered.
“Human nature will be the last part of Nature to surrender to Man,” [C.S.] Lewis writes. “The battle will then be won. We shall have ‘taken the thread of life out of the hand of Clotho’ and be henceforth free to make our species whatever we wish it to be.”
“The battle will indeed be won,” Lewis reiterates, “But who, precisely, will have won it?”
Well, again: “For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please.”
It is worth asking ourselves to what degree we have ordered our use of technology around the value of convenience. It is worth considering why exactly we value convenience or whether we have received the benefits that we expected. It’s worth considering what assumptions about the body structure our desire for convenience and whether or not we ought to reevaluate these assumptions. Would we not do better to understand our limits as “inducements to formal elaboration and elegance, to fullness of relationship and meaning,” to borrow a felicitous phrase from Wendell Berry, rather than as obstacles to be overcome?
Sure. Except for one thing, the most common problem I find in discussions of this sort: How do we make this understanding work for us — the understanding that our limits are a challenge to us in good faith — without it simply becoming an excuse for, as Lewis put it, some men to make other man what they please? How do we make this into a self- and inner-directed discipline instead of into an other- and outward-directed mission? And — maybe most disconcerting of all — are we too late to even think about whether or not that's possible anymore?
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Other Lives Of The Mind