Sunyata

The three articles we read were obviously written with different perceptions of our technology and the effects it has on man and nature. If Douthwaite proposes that technology is crucial in solving social problems, the other two authors would argue that it is the puppeteer in the social madness we are experiencing today. That in fact, instead of ‘curing’ our social ailments it exasperates them, worsening the already toxic social environment we have and creating new issues of ethics within our social climate. The other authors would likely question Douthwaite on a technological advancement that hasn’t had unintended environmental and social repercussions. We can all acknowledge the strength of technology, but we should be able to objectively critique and analyze its consequences. It is evident to me that there are obvious negative and positive outcomes with technology and how it’s used, and after reading the articles it has become more apparent to me that there are long-lasting effects of technology on every aspect of how our world functions.

If you’ve ever studied Buddhism, the theory of interconnectedness is nothing new to you. A sanskrit term Sunyata defines the lack of self in the world, and how everything and everyone belongs to one collective energy. This defines perfectly why scientific and technological advances have unintended consequences as described by Michael and Joyce Huesemann. Everything on earth is connected, a flawless system working symbiotically at all times through history in a cyclical style. When we as humans make changes and change even a minute piece of en ecosystem it effects not only that singular ecosystem but all of the other surrounding near and far ecosystems. The repercussions of changing nature are infinitely larger than the actual action of the change and how we as humans might see it. It is difficult to understand the magnitude of a “technological fix” when you can’t fathom it’s consequences because you are unable to even visually assess them. It’s like thinking about cigarettes; if the consequence of smoking cigarettes was immediate we would see fewer cigarette smokers in the world, but since the consequences come potentially decades down the road it isn’t so much of a deterrent. If we could see a scale model of the consequences of our decisions when it comes to technology I bet there would be fewer and more thoughtful advances being made, but since it’s a sort of out of sight out of mind mentality here in the modern world we see advances being made that will have obvious lasting effects to the environment, animals and people. With that being said, if I had it my way the world would be flipped upside-down with completely different values and practices etc,.. I think that unintended consequences should be theorized more often and technological practices should be more thoughtfully processed before they are set into motion.

3 thoughts on “Sunyata”

  1. I agree with your assessment of the Huessmans’ and Johnston’s response to Douthwaite. Although the Huessman’s did seem more pessimistic than Johnston. I really like that you connected the ideas in the articles to Buddhism and the theory of interconnectedness. And it really does explain why technological fixes have unintended consequences. It is impossible to predict what the consequences of designing something will be and if it gets mass produced a designer can’t predict where materials used will come from and what harm they will have. I think having scientists, engineers, and the public responsible for avoiding these kind of consequences has not worked out.

  2. I enjoyed reading your thoughts, and I appreciate your hypothesis: If we felt the repercussions of unintended consequences more immediately, we would be less likely to intervene and “fix” the harmonious balance in which our ecosystem lies. (I hope I am understanding that correctly) I think as time progresses, the scientific method is only going to be further perfected and refined. Since I believe this to be the case, we must leave room for the possibility to arise that, one day, we make come across a viable option to use as a cure to some environmental crises. With that being said, I feel that much further investigation should go into scientific cures to environmental issues that we have seen in the past. I think meddling with the natural environment is a hazardous thing and should only be done as a last resort and should only be implemented after extensive research and testing have been done.

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