How to find happiness in a technically advanced world? The different stages of the history of humanity show that man is perfecting himself. This improvement is a constant march towards freedom, justice, and consequently happiness. But this happiness seems unreal, illusory, or ephemeral, or partial. However, the most contrasted judgments are current on the technique. Some see it as the source of all ills. Others oppose the progress humanity has made. It, therefore, seems that technology provides us with the means to achieve our ends and that, the more it is developed, the more intelligent it is and the more it is a source of happiness. Who would deny medical progress? However, many are the evils that strike man and whose apparent source of technical inventions. For example, think of the atomic bomb. Therefore, we can wonder what brings us the technique. Is it the only condition for the happiness of men? Is it, as soon as it develops, a source of appalling misery, or does it only bring us means which we use and which make us suffer only when we deceive ourselves about their possibility?
It would be wise to specify in what spirit will be conducted this reflection, before entering into the heart of our philosophical reflection around the problem: How to find true happiness in a technically advanced world? The happiness of humanity could come from technical progress? This subject requires reflection on the link between happiness and technique, but in a precise way:
– It is not a question of how to find happiness for the individual, but of the happiness of humanity;
– It is not a question of technique, in general, but of “technical progress”;
– Finally, the verb “power” is in the conditional mode, a mode that marks the idea:
– An action that has not yet taken place: its possibility is envisaged in the near or distant future,
– An action that remains very hypothetical: the conditional marking doubt.
– The whole verb “come from …” indicates that technical progress would be a means to the happiness of humanity. However, “coming from …” implies that the primary purpose of technical progress is not the happiness of humanity, but that, moreover, it would be an effect that it could produce.
Thus, we are tempted to ask ourselves: how to define happiness? And, how to define the technical progress?
How to Find True Happiness in Philosophy: Eudaemonism and Moralism
Happiness, in philosophy, can be defined as the state of complete satisfaction. In ancient philosophy (Epicurus wrote the first treatise of happiness: The letter to Meneceus), the purpose of human life is how to find happiness, perfect end, and Sovereign Good (summum bonnum). Modernity (Schopenhauer, Camus, Sartre, Kant) is much more pessimistic about its possibility. Between the two, Christian morals have attempted to replace happiness with virtue as the goal of existence.
Happiness is not reduced to pleasure, for if pleasure can be attained, satisfied, happiness can never be given to it, it aims itself, projects itself: ” Our happiness will never consist in full enjoyment, where it does not exist. there would be nothing more to desire; but in perpetual progress to new pleasures and new perfections “(Leibniz, of the Monadology).
But of a general definition, happiness in philosophy is defined as a ” State of complete satisfaction, of completion of desires, characterized by its fullness and stability. Distinct of pleasure, very ephemeral, and joy, more dynamic than happiness. ”
Do you realize, just like me? Well, the definition of the notion of happiness is not unanimous among thinkers. Let’s explore other definitions of happiness. Let’s explore how to find happiness.
Aristotle: ” If it is true that happiness is an activity in conformity with virtue, it is obvious that it is the one that conforms to the most perfect virtue, that is to say, that of the part of the highest man. It is the activity of this part of ourselves, an activity in accordance with its own virtue that constitutes perfect happiness ” (Nicomachean Ethics).
Leibniz: ” Our happiness will never consist in full enjoyment, where there is nothing to be desired; but in a perpetual progress to new pleasures and new perfections ” (of the Monadology)
Kant: ” Happiness is the satisfaction of all our inclinations ” (Critique of Practical Reason)
Kant: ” The power, the wealth, the consideration, even the health as well as the complete well-being and the satisfaction of its state, is what one names happiness. ” (Metaphysics of the Mores).
Hegel: ” Happiness is not a singular pleasure, but a lasting state, on the one hand, an emotional pleasure, on the other hand also circumstances and means that allow, at will, to cause pleasure ” (Phenomenology spirit)
Schopenhauer: ” Positive and perfect happiness is impossible; one must only expect a comparatively less painful state ” (The world as representation and as will)
Nietzsche: ” What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is being overcome ” (The Antichrist).
Now, that we have explored other definitions of the notion of happiness. Nevertheless, let us lose sight of the direction of our reflection that answers the question: The happiness of humanity could it come from technical progress?
Thus, we must consider the notion of the happiness of humanity. However, that of ” happiness of humanity ” is much vaguer, since everyone has his conception of happiness or at least means to achieve it.
Definition of technical progress
Many thinkers have spoken in one way or another about the definition of technical progress. We just select just a few.
” Thinking about the future is to think of progress, that is to say, the transformation of evil into good, of good into better, it is to see the fulfillment of one’s desires, to dream of a better one condition for oneself, for one’s own, for society as a whole. ” – Quote from Louis-Auguste Martin; The moral spirit of the nineteenth century (1855).
“Technological progress is called a capacity for action that is more and more effective which man acquires by intellectual effort over the material elements. ” Jean FOURASTIE (1907-1990).
The simplest definition of technical progress, which seems to be acceptable to all, is the following: Progress is ” moving forward “; it is ” a movement forward, a progression “. It is still a ” transformation towards the best in a particular field, a development towards a satisfactory, favorable result “. However, specific definitions have been given to progress. Let’s consult them:
The most laborious: ” A thousand things are advancing; nine hundred and ninety-nine are receding: this is progress ” (Henri Frédéric Amiel, Swiss writer, and philosopher, 1821-1881).
The most pessimistic: ” Constantly progress, double gear wheel, make something work by crushing someone ” (Victor Hugo, French writer, and poet, 1802-1885).
The most bloody: ” Technical progress is like an ax that would have been put in the hands of a psychopath ” (Albert Einstein, German physicist, naturalized American, 1879-1955) who also said: ” The word progress will have no meaning as long as there are unhappy children. ”
The most dreamy: ” Progress is only the fulfillment of utopias ” (Oscar Wilde, Irish writer, 1854-1900).
In view of the attempts to define the happiness of humanity and technical progress, I would like to circumscribe the subject, by very precise definitions of the ” happiness of humanity ” and ” technical progress “. If the notion of ” technical progress ” seems rather easy to determine (by a certain number of criteria), that of ” happiness of humanity ” is much vaguer, since everyone in his conception of happiness or at least, means for getting there.
As for the paradox, which can serve to problematize the subject, it remains fairly classic: happiness is a state of full satisfaction, not only physical but especially psychological. On the contrary, technical progress seems to be reduced to always bringing more material goods.
One could find a paradox (a little more original for this subject), in the opposition between the happiness of humanity (as a totalizing notion: it is about all men) and technical progress (which benefits only part of humanity and which one can wonder if there is even consensus among those who benefit).
It is in this spirit that the author Thomson Dablemond wants to guide the subject of this philosophical reflection devoted to the study of notions such as “the happiness of humanity” and “technical progress” which is part of the problem: The happiness of humanity could it come from technical progress? How to Find the Happiness in a Technically Advanced World?
The Two Faces of Science
This problem that we are trying to deal with leads us to take a look at both sides of Science. In fact, ” We must distinguish two faces under which science presents itself to us since there are men who think and are astonished at the mystery of things. On the one hand, there is a deep instinct that drives us toward the pursuit of truth, an insatiable desire to know and understand. Noble instinct, sublime desire! They tend to a physical conquest by intelligence, to a spiritual ascent that allows the mind to dominate matter. But there is also another aspect of science, as old as the first: man has the reasonable and legitimate desire to know the laws of natural phenomena in order to use them for his benefit. ” Thus expresses Louis de Broglie (“scientists and discoveries“).
The facts prove to us that science has two faces: while pure science turns to the great hypotheses of the explanation of the universe, applied science transforms the conditions of life by the practical adaptation of discoveries. The distinction of school somewhat artificial, however, if we consider that applied science can pose such a problem of pure science and that conversely, pure science can lead directly into the field of applications. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, it can be said that scientific and technological progress has engaged man in an exciting adventure of which it is difficult to say how far it will go. We know that this is not without risks and that the applications of science are not always in the interest of humanity.
Of course, an analysis of the causes of the current disaster would undoubtedly reveal that the memory of Hiroshima floats in memories and that the development of nuclear power is not always unanimous. Also, according to Sigmund Freud, in his excerpt published in 1929, Malaise in the culture, ” men believe they have noticed that this newly acquired possibility of disposing of space and time, this submission of nature, the accomplishment of an age-old desire, do not, from what they feel, have made them happier. Power over nature is not the only condition of happiness. “ In this case, to what extent has the scientific and technological epic contributed to the happiness of man? What has brought us technical progress? How to find happiness in this progress?
This reflection will be detailed in three parts. We will first see how technical progress contributes to the happiness of humanity (the thesis). Then we will see how technical progress does not contribute to the happiness of humanity (the antithesis). And, we will draw a synthesis. Finally, a conclusion. Let us note that each of the first three parts of this reflection will appear in paragraphs of which each paragraph carries a title, translating an idea, and presenting arguments.
Thesis 1: Scientific progress brings happiness
He is not a man without technique. When Rousseau praises the lives of savages, he describes a technique that is frustrating but a technique anyway. It, therefore, appears as the means of human life. Indeed, it is the set of means manufactured in a thoughtful way. Technical thinking is about trying to achieve something by acting on elements of nature. It’s a craft. It brings us the conditions of happiness, if we mean by that the satisfaction of our desires.
This is even more true of the technique that is based on scientific knowledge. It makes it possible to ” give us back as masters and possessors of nature ” as Descartes put it in his Discourse on Method (1637). Indeed, by knowing the laws of nature, we can use them for our benefit. The technique brings us the realization of all our aspirations, in short, happiness. So whether there is still a question of how to find happiness? We will see the answer later in this text.
Thesis 2: Technical progress simplifies human existence.
If progress has contributed to human happiness it is simply because it has improved a lot of humanity. On the one hand, through intellectual satisfaction, since man is eager to unlock the secrets of nature to dominate it, and on the other hand because technological advances have enabled man to overcome the hardest servitudes. If, as science asserts, emerges for a large part of the needs of action, the progress it is making today often has a disinterested origin. Mankind, in its past evolution, has followed a path roughly analogous to that followed by human individuals at the beginning of their existence. In the beginning, she observed with curiosity, attention, and sometimes anxiety the nature that surrounded her: she seeks to identify the reasons and the links of the phenomena she observed around her. But she did not have any parents or teachers to teach her at first, and she often thought she found in myths that were often poetic, but always misleading, a meaningless interpretation of the facts she was trying to understand. Then for a few centuries, she came ” as a teenager ” and got rid of her first mistakes. As her curiosity could now be based on a firmer reason and an acuter critical mind, she was able to pursue the study of phenomena with safer and more rigorous methods of investigation. Thus was born modern science, ” the daughter of astonishment and curiosity, ” and it is always these two hidden springs that ensure its incessant progress. Each discovery opens new horizons and, as we contemplate them, we feel new surprises and are seized by new curiosities. And as the unknown always extends infinitely before us, nothing seems to be able to interrupt this continual succession of progress which satisfies our old curiosities, but at once provokes new ones, generating new discoveries. For a long time, the scientist was therefore animated by the passion to know and contemplate the universe. This thought is not new; Descartes spoke of ” man, master, and possessor of nature “. Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte, said: ” Know in order to be able. “
Today we see how scientific progress in the field of transport, communication, medicine to name just that – has brought more to humanity. Yes, it is with a force that we affirm that progress is progress, from discoveries to discoveries, technical or scientific progress has contributed to facilitating human existence.
But what is new is the universal and powerful character of this conception. ” The men of science,” writes Langevin, ” abandon the disinterested conception of scientific truth accompanied by a sublime indifference as to the consequences of their discoveries. Now science has become serious, sometimes dramatic. We also notice it in fits and starts. The explosions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are among those jolts; they took the physicists of the atom on a plane very different from that of their predecessors. It was understood that these men could have a profound influence on the destinies of humanity – on its material destinies naturally, but also on its general, intellectual, social, and even spiritual behavior. So thousands of men support their scientific endeavor and allow it to be accomplished. Even during a new performance, such as a gain of a few knots for a ship, a few kilometers per hour for a train, the considerable interest aroused on this occasion does not correspond to very important progress for the modification of humanity, but to succeed in bringing into play a lot of intelligence and patience. This crowd of men follows with a passionate curiosity not only the science that can affect its existence, such as the discovery of atomic bombs, radars, or penicillin, but also that which develops selflessly, presentiment of the close connection which is established between the two orders: the basic science is the sketch of an instrument of conquest.
The latter, moreover, freed the man from enslavement and oppression by bringing him better comfort and quality of life much more pleasant. Technology and science mitigate social inequalities. Technical progress does not suppress them but makes them less sensitive. In modern societies, the diversity of functions and their importance leads to unequal income and working conditions.
Thesis 3: Technical progress allows man to choose how to find happiness.
Still, we should agree on this. Two opposing images of industrial society can be presented. On the one hand, we can show that they tend to a complex social stratification, a diversification of situations; on the other, an inverse process can be described. Many Americans say that the United States is a classless society; the resemblance of the kinds of life is strikingly striking indeed. Economic development tends to narrow the gap in livelihoods, to narrow the range of incomes. Between Rockefeller and the American maneuver, the distance is less than between the medieval baron and his serf. Industrial societies seem to evolve towards the disappearance of great wealth and great misery. They march towards the relative equalization of living conditions and accelerate the development of democracy.
On the other hand, technical progress offers man the possibility of choosing, not of suffering. In particular, with the discovery of contraceptives. Contraception has become a fundamental right of humanity. The modern couple no longer thinks in the same way as in the past their role as parents. He no longer assumes his offspring by having as many babies as nature gives, but wants to raise as much as possible the children he has desired. To limit its fertility, therefore, becomes indispensable. Contraception, therefore, represents the possibility for the couple to generate when they want and in the most favorable conditions for the development of the newcomer.
Partial Conclusion of Thesis
In short, technological progress has literally transformed our society in many ways: the evolution of mentalities and customs, the development of democracy, and the adjustment of the standard of living of social classes. Technology has contributed in a way to make us happier and more fulfilled and therefore to some extent to achieve happiness.
Nevertheless, scientific and technological discoveries have brought up other crucial questions about the future of humanity and thus limit the possibilities of reaching fullness. Is there then no place to speak of the limits and insufficiencies of technical progress? Or what am I saying, let us also address the misdeeds of scientific or technical progress?
Antithesis 1: Technical progress has favored the illusion of choice
Technical progress has allowed the emergence and extension of the consumer society. All objects are made in abundance and therefore must be sold. Desires do not develop spontaneously. They are influenced. They can even be manipulated, especially by one of the most powerful means of communication of our time: namely advertising. Nothing is more legitimate in the beginning than its principle: to make known a product and its advantages so that the multiplication of the buyers multiply the sales, thus the lowering of the costs than the lowering of the prices, which profits the consumer. If only the notion of need was clear! We need what we think we need and advertising weighs heavily on beliefs. Of course, we are satisfied with the dream. Nonetheless, non-usage-related connotations take over content so well that there is misappropriation.
This is why technical progress has favored the illusion of choice in our industrial societies. This is an insufficiency of technical progress in the sense that it does not lead to perfect happiness. In this case, we admit that the happiness that can bring technical progress to humanity is indeed an illusion. So the question of how to find happiness still exists.
Antithesis 2: Man has become a slave to progress.
In addition, we are in an industrial civilization because we have more and more varied technical means, more and more numerous and more and more powerful also.
From this prodigious increase, three great consequences have perniciously resulted on the human level. The first is that in developing, the technique involves a gradual removal of a man from all that is natural, I mean everything that obviously comes from nature. This is true in all fields: for example, to feed oneself, the man of old could make his bread, to dress himself to weave wool; today it is industrial techniques that in practice depend on the whole existence of the civilized. The gap becomes greater between the natural product of origin and the product that man uses: for example between corn or wood and plastics that play such a big role in our existence. We are therefore in an industrial civilization because the industry tends more and more to take charge of the whole material life of man. But she does more: she submits the man himself to his law. This is one of the consequences of technical evolution. Because the human mind, very quickly understood that, to make a machine work well, it was necessary that the man accepted his rhythm and the imperious logic which presides over its construction.
In the end, industry and technology imposed on human life their rhythms and laws, and man became a slave to progress.
Antithesis 3: Progress leads humanity to chaos
Moreover, the acceleration of scientific and technological progress places more and more the man of today in new situations, unpredictable, difficult to control. We reach here this thought: ” The engine confers on the modern means of destruction a power, a speed, a radius of action, such that the present conflict will, sooner or later, be marked by movements, surprises, irruptions, prosecutions, the magnitude and speed of which will infinitely exceed those of the most dazzling events of the past. ” Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970).
In fact, we have barely, for example, mentioned the implications of the space adventure which could well upset our lives and our way of being in a more radical way. In the decades to come, progress will explode on all sides like a series of rockets that will take us back to the past and plunge us into the heart of our new society. This one will not have for first concern to settle in a state of perfect stability. She too will tremble, she will crack and she will growl under the successive discharges of innovative energy with high tension. To the individual who wishes to live in his time and to be a citizen of the future, the super-industrial revolution offers no respite from change. It does not allow any return to a familiar past. All she has to offer is the explosive mixture of the ephemeral and the unknown. This massive injunction of speed and innovation in the veins of society forces us not only to react more quickly to situations, events, and moral dilemmas that we know well but also and this at an ever-accelerating pace, in front of undoubtedly new, unexpected, strange, irregular, unpredictable situations. Lassitude and mistrust progress, pessimism becomes heavier, our grip on reality declines. The world around us seems more and more chaotic, it’s out of our control. It is therefore rightly the author Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) said: ” The more you want to accelerate the progress of science and the sooner you will destroy it; thus succumbs to the chicken that you artificially compel to lay eggs too quickly. ”
The happiness of mankind has been diminished to a certain extent. Is it not true that ” the (positive) innovation of an object also creates its negativity: with the ship the shipwreck is created, with the plane, the crash, and with the nuclear, Chernobyl. In the same way, the formidable computer technologies will generate a global catastrophe, happening everywhere at once. “ Paul Virilio (1932-).
As much as we advocate the merits of medicine, so we must not lose sight of its failings that have encouraged immorality in humans.
Partial Conclusion of Antithesis
Also, if the technical progress can be the object of a feeling of fear, it is that it presents an ambivalent character insofar as it is at the same time what fascinates us and what frightens us as if the power to which we could access thanks to him seemed too difficult to assume. Technique because it is what men give themselves the means to transform the material world in which they live can give rise to the apprehension of two forms of danger: on the one hand the risk of transforming our relationship to nature, even to modify the nature itself to the point of not being able to live there anymore or in any case not being able to live there humanly any more. On the other hand, the risk of being transformed social relations in such a way that man becomes alienated by others who master and possess the technical means of enabling society to function.
However, since the Neolithic revolution that brought agriculture and livestock to life, relations between men have not improved and their degradation seems to have followed technical “progress”. Is not the reason that technology, far from bringing us happiness, brings us moral misery? And this misery doesn’t tell us how to find happiness.
In this case, is it the technical object that can scare us and make the man unhappy or the use that can be made of it? Any means, whatever it is, can, according to the use that one will make become a dangerous object, a simple knife, can of the banal and very useful instrument, become a deadly weapon, likewise, to take an example making As a reference to a more sophisticated technique, nuclear energy can be used to produce energy for domestic use rather than producing weapons that can destroy the entire planet. In other words, it is, therefore, permissible to think that reason does not lead us to necessarily be afraid of technical progress in itself, but rather to fear the use that might be made of it by certain men, capable of making harmful use of it to humanity. Technophobic fright will find its paroxysm in contemporary mythology, largely nourished by the novel by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, or Modern Prometheus (1818). The monster symbolizes the anxiety of humanity overwhelmed by its own technical achievements, a technocracy unable to master the product of his experiences.
It is true that biotechnology and the proliferation of bacteriological weapons never tire of feeding our worries. The difficulty we face is therefore whether we can master technical progress to the point of being able to refuse a technique, even when it remains at our disposal.
Synthesis 1 – Moral Progress: What We Need
If the existence of technical progress is indisputable, it is more complex to appreciate the moral progress, because if our century saw a certain evolution of liberties and the spirit of tolerance, it was also the witness of the worst horrors to which the evolution of the techniques was not foreign. On the other hand, is not our modern age, because of the comfort that technical progress has given us, that during which egoism and materialism in its most vulgar form have developed to excess.
Synthesis 2: The relationship between moral and technical progress
There is, therefore, an ambivalence of technical progress, which seems to make us capable of the best as well as the worst. It may at first seem strange to wonder about the relationship between technological progress and moral progress, since these two domains may appear to be extremely distinct from each other.
However, if we think more thoroughly, we realize that they are ultimately very close to each other. Indeed, the technique is defined, among other things, as all that concerns the means by which we can act in and on the world, while morality, as for it concerns the value and the ends of the action. Any morality can be defined, if not as a doctrine of action, as questioning and reflection on the value and scope of our actions. Does technical progress make us more worthy of humanity, lead us inevitably to adopt an attitude and conduct more in keeping with what we must do. To a certain extent, we can say that technical progress and moral progress are not indifferent, since the improvement of the material conditions in which we live can put us in a position more conducive to sociability and respect for others. It is indeed possible to think that when you have means of subsistence that avoid having to struggle every day for your survival, you are less inclined to behave with violence and harshness. However, our century seems to have witnessed many cases of abuse that have been facilitated by the progress of technology. So the Jewish genocide during World War II is not inspired by advances in industrial production techniques to organize and operate death factories? Similarly in the military field, the use by some powers of chemical weapons contradicts the fact that there is a link of absolute necessity between technical progress and moral progress.
General Conclusion on Reflection: Happiness of Humanity Could It Come from Technical Progress?
In conclusion, we can therefore answer the question asked: The happiness of humanity could come from technical progress? Can this progress tell us how to find happiness?
Technical progress does not necessarily lead to moral progress since there are counterexamples to the general rule, that is not because the relation is not necessary that it is imperative to make the progress and to regard it as the source of all the vices and misfortunes of humanity. In the end, when we talk about the key question of whether technical progress makes us happy or not, we come back to the banal idea, which is always current, that it depends on our wisdom. We are the only species that can reflect on the world and ourselves. This privilege implies at least the duty to use it. In this respect, biology shows us the way through its recent and spectacular development. It has an enlightening power over our conduct because without pretending to conceal the mystery of life and the place of man in the living world, it has at least vocation to multiply the advice and the warnings and to demonstrate that the first duty of our species is its own preservation. And as Edgar QUINET so well states: ” But this divine thing, the dignity, companion of liberty, it is necessary that men deserve to possess it. ”
Therefore, technical progress is not the source of our misfortune or happiness. It has certainly helped to improve a lot of humanity, but it is still more use of our critical and moral sense to be happier. This is why it seems urgent to establish and define moral progress. This reflection led by the author Thomson Dablemond certainly opens the door to another relevant problem: The happiness of humanity could come from moral progress?