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The Sacrament of Civilization: The Groundwork of a Philosophy of Technology for Theology

by Andrew Tatusko

Andrew Tatusko joined Seton Hall University as a faculty consultant with the Teaching, Learning, and Technology Center in May of 2000. He received his Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees at Princeton Theological Seminary. This essay was published on his web site (tatuskan@shu.edu), May 15, 2000. Used by permission of the author.


The technologies we create and the cultures in which they are embedded are strikingly similar. The Western expansion and frontier mentality finds its expression in the constable where large caravans of families would move together to find a new home in new land. The clock which arose out of monasteries fit in perfectly with regimented monastic schedules and made scheduling the day easier and more standardized. With the clock and the assembly line, among others for sure, we may locate a distinctly linear, fixed, and foundational mode of rationality that we have christened with the blanket term "modernity." It is both a temporal disposition in culture and a cultural movement itself that crept into our civilization roughly with the emergence of the vernacular Bible that, for all intents and purposes, would not have been possible with out Gutenberg’s moveable type press. Thus we shall reasonably say that the seismic shift in civilization to a distinctly modern framework cannot be removed from its technological milieu. What is this apparent link between our cultures, events, and the technologies that are embedded in them?

The purpose of this essay is to show first, that there is a relationship between culture and technology that we ought not ignore. Second, we will explore this relationship more deeply and here find how it is that culture and technology shape each other. We will do this by juxtaposing the thought of Martin Heidegger and Marshall McLuhan. Third, using our Heidegger/McLuhan material, we shall focus on developments in technology that shape and reveal postmodern, non-foundational reasoning strategies. Thus, we are after an investigation of postmodern rationality as seen through the technologies within culture that give expression and shape to this rationality. The ultimate aim of this essay is to lay suitable and fruitful groundwork for the technology/theology discussion. We will lay this groundwork by showing that our understanding of rationality is expressed and also shaped within our cultures largely by the technologies we create and use.

The New Sacrament of Civilization

If we look at technology itself without its embeddedness in the culture that surrounds, creates, and is shaped by it, the relationship between technology and culture is an issue that we can answer only speculatively. Lewis Mumford’s life-long investigation of the interaction between culture and its technology, demonstrates convincingly the impossibility of separating a discussion of technology from the cultures in which it is invented and used. Technology is deeply rooted in the interaction of people with their environments and other people and so, is embedded in the cultures of people as well.

Perhaps the great fault of positivism is that we were left with the presupposition that our science and technology ought to be divorced from the cultures out of which they arose. But the pragmatist contemporaries of the positivists offer us a needed correction to this notion - praxis itself as an evaluative standard. All technologies have a use value that is formed by the cultures out of which they arose and in which they come into contact. An example of this comes from the movie The Gods Must be Crazy (1981). The beginning of the movie illustrates a sharp contrast between the bustling modern city and the simpler village life of an African bush tribe. When a plane flies over this village the intercourse of modern civilization and tribal life occurs when a Coke bottle mysteriously falls from the sky and lands at the feet of the tribe. They use this new tool that was given to them by the gods for such things as crushing grain or making music. But when this object with so many uses is used as a weapon and creates selfishness and disorder within the once peaceful tribe it is called "the evil thing" from whence the gods must have been crazy to give the tribe such an evil thing.

Different praises and stigmas, uses and values, are attached to technologies by the cultures in which they are embedded. For the pilot, it was a technology that kept his beverage fresh, for the tribe it was a technology that was far more nuanced in its uses and was also "evil" in its reciprocal effect on their tribal life.

For an example of the same reciprocal interaction between culture and technology from a more universal experience let us briefly look at language. In its most raw definition, language is a tool used by people in order to communicate ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc. It is an extension of our selves into the world - a means to make our thoughts object. To be sure, each culture has its own language, dialect, accent, etc. that is intimately attached to its culture, perhaps revealed no more explicitly than in the numerous African tribes or Chinese dialects that attach themselves to different forms of food, music, art, etc. Communication between different languages requires the act of translation. It is the action of isomorphism - finding like terms for an existing body of terms. However, the nuanced meanings of given terms in one language may not have the same nuances in the other making translation difficult. The word "love" in Greek has four words with four related but contrasting meanings for which English has only one word available. Thus, to understand the meaning of love to an ancient Greek expressed in English it is necessary to look at how the people of the day conceived love - a conception that we can see most definitively expressed in the culture itself through the expressions of friendship, eroticism, charity, and brotherhood. Language is expressive, therefore, of the cultures in which it resides.

There is also a simple reciprocity in the use of language as a technology, in this sense, in which it shapes the culture and rationality to which it gives expression. This shaping power of technology is a key notion we will discuss later.

If we look at these two examples there is a common thread - the technology appropriated by the culture gives expression of that culture and, in the case of the Coke bottle, the technology may even be used for purposes other than its original intent that give expression to the culture in which it is embedded. Thus the relationship between technology and culture is as follows: technology is an outward sign of inward realities within culture. It is in this way that we are calling technology the sacrament of civilization.

This is not to say that technology forms a new religion of culture. But it does open up the possibility that it may in fact be oriented toward religious patterns of behavior among societies and individuals. Neil Postman explores this possibility in his book Technopoly.[i] Postman makes a careful distinction between tool-using cultures, technocracies, and technopolies. In the tool-using culture technologies were invented and used based on specific needs of that culture or in service of the symbolic world of religion, politics, etc. "Tradition, religion, politics, social, and education all ‘directed’ the invention of tools and limited the uses to which they were put."[ii] Thus, "tools are not intruders (to culture). They are integrated into the culture in ways that do not pose significant contradiction to its world-view."[iii] This view, of no immediate surprise, is quite similar to Lewis Mumford’s eotechnic phase. But what Mumford argues is that the increase of mechanization decreases the cultural foundations from which such mechanization arose. Thus, mechanization slowly comes to be the "substitute religion" for society where "the necessity of invention was a dogma, and the ritual of a mechanical routine was the binding element in the faith."[iv]

Postman notes this same progression with the next two phases. In the technocracy, the relationship between culture and technology is loosened, but the culture is still a major influence in technological development. What happens during this phase, however, is the reversal of the foundations of culture to the degree that technology itself takes the place of the very foundations that gave rise to it. That is, the technology moves from being the subordinate to the predominate in social and cultural formation. But even here the technology and its culture still have a vital and dynamic, albeit inverted, relationship. "Technocracy did not entirely destroy the traditions of the social and symbolic worlds. Technocracy subordinated these worlds – yes, even humiliated them – but it did not render them totally ineffectual."[v]

With the coming of the technopoly, however, the now subordinate culture and tradition vanishes and its influence on technology disappears. C.S. Lewis offers us a vivid image of this development in his novel That Hideous Strength. There he portrays modernity and the technological prowess of modernity as a spider swallowing up its prey – culture, tradition, and humanity itself. The technology becomes not just the tools used by culture, but the ground of culture itself which is, philosophically, groundless. It is here where Postman hearkens back to Jaques Ellul and further, to Karl Marx who envisioned a capitalism that moved reality to abstraction in the grip of society’s new goal and reason for being – efficiency as an end in itself. What this entails is that the object of technology becomes the subject and the subject becomes the object. That is to say, in a technopoly, one’s need for efficiency rather than social reform or greater philosophical or religious inquiry becomes the means and end, the subject and object, of society and culture. Doing things faster with less energy becomes the sole purpose for doing things faster and with less energy. As we will see later, a result of this abstraction of technology from any cultural foundations is what cultural philosopher Jean Baudrillard has called Implosion! whereby the system purely sustains itself by itself and for itself as the groundless ground that veils authenticity, thinking, and reflection upon deeper reasons for being and acting in the world.

However, we must also notice the obvious Luddite[1] bent in these positions that places technology at the center and at the periphery of society filling it at all points in between with itself. This certainly applies with figures such as Ellul and Mumford but to a lesser degree with Postman who takes a more moderate yet no less critical position. He rather positions himself somewhere in the middle of the technophile who "gaze(s) on technology as a lover does on his beloved, seeing it as without blemish and entertaining no apprehension for the future," and the technophobe who is "inclined to speak of only burdens…and (is) silent about the opportunities that new technologies make possible."[vi] Thus Postman takes a middle way between the technophile and the technophobe in order to critically engage the introduction of new technologies into culture as each new technology has a profound shaping force on our conceptions of the real, truth, and rationality. And when we can see how it is that technology has shaped our culture, we can also see what technology as a shaping force reveals about our culture. This notion of the shaping force of technology, however, comes from the other side of the spectrum in the theory of Marshall McLuhan to whom we will turn. And it is through McLuhan and Martin Heidegger that we will finally understand how it is that technology reveals and gives sustenance to the inner dynamism of culture just as the holy sacraments in the church shape one’s faith as outward signs of internal realities.

The Invisible Shaping

Technology seems to have a revelatory power to it. What it reveals is the internal motion and epistemic rationality within the culture from which it springs. How it reveals is thus intimately tied to and inseparable from what it reveals. Both the content and the process arise from the culture itself and reveal what is implicit in the culture through the technologies that come out of that culture. This is not to say that the only or even the primary revelatory force is technology. It is to say that the technologies we create and implement are embedded in the cultures in which we move and have our being, and that our technologies can offer us a clue to both the positive and destructive forces at play within our cultures themselves.

To the casual observer, a juxtaposition of Martin Heidegger, an existential philosopher, and Marshall McLuhan, a media theorist, may seem a bit odd. Often it is concluded that Heidegger was anti-technology, viewing the processes of mechanization and automation as the destruction of our sense of who we are and what reality is. On the other side of the coin many will view McLuhan as a pure technophile, almost placing religious value on technological achievement - especially with the rise of electronic communication in the fifties and sixties prompting his now overstated phrase "the global village." I am arguing that both of these readings are fundamentally misguided. Both Heidegger and McLuhan offer critical analyses of technology that take into account its very nature and how its use shapes our relationships and society. While it may very well be true that Heidegger sounds as if he is arguing for a pre-modern, pre-mechanized society, perhaps leaning toward a Luddite perspective, and while it also may appear that McLuhan is arguing for the continued evolution of technology that will enhance society, perhaps smacking of a full-blown techophilism, both theorists come together on the primary assertion that they make - technology has a profound and invisible shaping force on our epistemic values, perceptions of reality and truth, and cultural values and norms. But it is this very invisible shaping force of technology that is revelatory and so, is in need of our critical engagement.

Heidegger’s Veil of Being

Heidegger’s philosophical work is intentionally difficult to read. The form of his writing can never be separated from its intent - to show how language, perception, and our values have distorted the reality of Being. "Being" is both Heidegger’s central concept in his metaphysical quest for the essences or grounds of things and it is also his most difficult concept to understand. Being is simply what is in its unmediated form. It is the reality of what is real. It is not substance or essence as the Greeks would have it up through the rebirth of Aristotelian essentialism in the middle ages. Being is what is or what is present. It is so difficult to speak of, because what Being is lost in the saying and further distorted in the said. Nothing, especially language, can contain it or fully comprehend it even though it is what everything is.[2] The goal of life is then to relate to Being in an unfettered way - a difficult thing to do, to say the least, since all of our epistemic capabilities distort what Being is upon reflection. Thus, following Husserl, Heidegger argues that our relationship to Being must come in an intuitive "flashing" or revelation. "…(I)nsight [Einblick] as in-flashing [Einblitz] is the disclosing coming-to-pass of the constellation of the turning within the coming to presence of Being itself…"[vii] It is like looking at an object in the dark. If you focus your eyes on it too long it seems to disappear. In order to see it, you must pass your eyes over it quickly and it always seems to appear as if the darkness itself revealed it out from under a shadowy cloak. But its image is elusive and vague even though you know it’s there and even if you know what it is. When Heidegger sets out on his task of understanding technology, the heart of his concern is the relationship between technology and Being. Hence, he is after an understanding of the essence of technology rather than the more phenomenal (and more common) instrumental understanding of technology.

"The essence of Enframing is that setting-upon gathered into itself which entraps the truth of its own coming to presence with oblivion."[viii] With this statement, Heidegger encapsulates how he conceptualizes the essence of technology. The essence of technology is found in his key term "Enframing."

To better understand what this term means, let us look at his essay on science, "The Age of the World as Picture." In this essay Heidegger offers us a philosophy of science that links developments in modern research and disciplinary specialization with the modern epistemic need to posit an "object-sphere" - a self-contained system.[ix] He understands a scientific system as organizing reality through research, methodology, and investigation in terms of a specific mode of rationality in which the defining of fact is verified in terms of domain-specific rules and laws.

Experiment begins with the laying down of a law as a basis. To set up an experiment means to represent or conceive [vorstellen] the conditions under which a specific series of motions can be made susceptible of being followed in its necessary progression, i.e., of being controlled in advance by calculation. But the establishing of a law is accomplished with reference to the ground plan of the object-sphere. That ground plan furnishes a criterion and constrains the anticipatory representing of the conditions.[x]

Here he comes close to Rouse’s notion of research program and Kuhn’s notion of paradigm.[xi] The shaping rationality in modern science is the establishing of a ground plan of investigation. But what does it mean to have so many different ground plans such as mathematics, chemistry, biology, experimental psychology, all of which operate with rather different ground plans and methodologies? Are the bases within these scientific disciplines arbitrary? No. The bases of any scientific endeavour "are developed out of the ground plan of nature and are sketched into it."[xii] What is needed then, is a more exact ground-plan, in terms of its relationship to nature, from which to investigate a given science’s object-sphere in order that the experimentation within that science may be more exact. Arising from this need for increased exactitude and precision is the modern characteristic of disciplinary fragmentation in terms of specialization and privatization to regulate and make more exact the ground of investigation and to attenuate the object sphere of that ground. This specializing activity is "the foundation of the progress of all research" and as such is an ongoing activity. In this way the representing of the object-sphere is more exact. But why does science require this exact representation?

To answer this question, Heidegger seeks to "apprehend (science) in its metaphysical ground." Research as the essence of science relies on prediction of future events and verification of the truth of past events.

Nature, in being calculated in advance, and history, in being historiographically verified as past, become, as it were, "set in place" [gestellt]. Nature and history become the objects of a representing that explains…Only that which becomes object in this way is - is considered to be in being. We first arrive at science as research when the Being of whatever is, is sought in such objectiveness.[xiii]

This propensity, nay, necessity to "objectiveness" is located initially in Descartes’ anxiety to discover necessary and certain grounds for knowledge and being itself. And through Descartes’ project, the representation of nature becomes subsumed under the primacy of subjectivity grounding all manner of Being in the being of the human subject. Henceforth, nature and the world are a picture in which whatever is, is set up as a fixed system, an object "that is set up by man, who represents and sets forth." And science is a perfect expression of this need to set what is in front of oneself as picture - as an object at the whim of human subjectivity.

Along this vein, Heidegger uses the term "Enframing" to describe the essence of technology in his essays "The Question Concerning Technology" and "The Turning." Heidegger is not out to describe technological invention or advances; he is rather concerned with the essence of technology, or the manner in which it exists through time. It is not something that is neutral - that it is simply understood relative to its use-value as a human activity or a means to an end. Holding these two perspectives in tension, he describes technology in light of causa materialis, causa formalis, causa finalis, and causa efficiens. Taken together these four ways of conceiving instrumentality or causality "let what is not yet present arrive into presencing."[xiv] Thus there is a revelatory attribute of technology which he conceives as a "bringing-forth" in the sense of production or generation.

The difficulty with this bringing-forth in technology is that it is a way of bringing-forth that is quite analogous to the way modern research works in terms of objectification of the world as picture. Being is thus only revealed as that which is yet concealed or veiled behind the given ground plan. There thus seems to be an implosive quality in technology in which Being can only be revealed as that which cannot be revealed due to the constraints set up by technology as the means to reveal Being. But Heidegger does not simply stop here.

Technology must reveal Being because at its root it is a process of bringing-forth into presence something that was not present, or presencing. However, "the revealing that rules in modern technology is a challenging [Herausfordern], which puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy that can be extracted and stored as such."[xv] Any revealing activity in modern technology is seen as a challenging or provoking of nature into action. In short it is a means to control nature to be at the whim of humankind. In this way the things of nature are ordered such that they are at the ready for more orders and more constricted control - the things of nature at the hands of modern technology become the "standing-reserve." This is precisely the outcome of his investigation into the essence of modern scientific research wherein its "representing pursues and entraps nature as a calculable coherence of forces" - or nature as a system artificially challenged forth by the image of the world as picture and the picture as world. And it is this Enframing as the essence of technology that also "demands that nature be orderable as standing-reserve." In this way technology "must employ the exact physical sciences."[xvi] The concomitant danger associated with this ordering into standing-reserve by technology is the compulsion in humanity to order – a compulsion that makes humanity, in a sense, a standing-reserve at the whim of Enframing. Here the concept is truly radical. Enframing is not something that we do or create; it is something that has us. "…(T)echnology enters the inmost recesses of human existence, transforming the way we know and think and will. Technology is, in essence, a mode of human existence…"[xvii] "It remains true, nonetheless, that man in the technological age is, in a particularly striking way, challenged forth into revealing" to the degree that such revealing "reveals the real as standing-reserve."[xviii]

The hope, for Heidegger, lies in the belief that Being is still accessible through technology even though it is veiled and concealed by technology itself. There is more to revealing than concealing. There still is the possibility that Being as concealed by being revealed as standing-reserve can still be revealed as it is. And this happens by way of insight that can cut through the concealing medium of technology. Thus, there is a good that lies in the very heart of technology that we ought to uncover by relating to its essence which is Enframing.

The difficulty with this is that Enframing is something that we cannot sense and it goes unnoticed by virtue that we too are held in its grasp being beckoned to its use. It is invisible. Heidegger is concerned with the ability to live an authentic life and be authentic in the world and sees an improper relationship to technology not technology itself as detrimental to that goal. By relating to the essence of what technology really is and what it really does, he thinks that we will be able to be authentic in a technological age. Technology can then serve the goal of being authentic if it is understood in terms of its essence. Thus, we cannot call him a Luddite, but a critic who wants to look at technology from a different perspective somehow outside of Enframing that is possible by a critical engagement.

An explicit connection he makes is between modern science and technology and how they are embedded in and revelatory of the epistemic values and processes within modernity itself. But they are revelatory only if we relate to them in the right way, namely, by relating to their essences - to what they are as they are. This is how we find what is true about modernity and, as we shall see postmodernity.

Marshall McLuhan’s Narcissistic Fish

"I call this peculiar form of self-hypnosis Narcissus narcosis, a syndrome whereby man remains as unaware of the psychic and social effects of his new technology as a fish of the water it swims in. As a result, precisely at the point where a new media-induced environment becomes all pervasive and transmogrifies our sensory balance, it also becomes invisible."[xix]

Precisely the point of contact between Heidegger and McLuhan is, above all else, the notion that the technology we use acts as that which sets the conditions for our rationalities, communities, and sense of self.[xx] For McLuhan, there is no explicit concern with grand metaphysical schemes related to an authentic ontology. Rather, his concern touches upon a more practical realm of questioning – the very numbness of humanity to the technologies we create and use. This numbness is not about the ways we implement technology or media. Nor is it about the content of media. Rather, this numbness is about the very media themselves. In the same way a fish is unaware that it is in water, "the ‘content’ of writing or print is speech, but the reader is almost entirely unaware either of print or of speech."[xxi] His point here is that our environments are invisible to us unless we step outside of them, and following, that our technologies have a very salient shaping force on what our environments are. What is at stake here is that society, culture, and the self are all shaped by the technology that shapes the environment, but that this shaping goes on continually at an invisible level. This is precisely what Heidegger was expressing with the notion of Enframing, and it is the key to understanding McLuhan as well.

McLuhan was terribly concerned about humanity’s tendency to blindly adopt technological tools and advances where the only critical engagement addressed how the people were using the technology. He felt that it was his job to "wake up" people out of this slumber that they may step back and look at the ways new technologies were shaping the environment. It was this task that just preceded scholars such as Postman and was profoundly similar to his contemporaries such as Heidegger.

Our conventional response to all media, namely that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot. For the "content" of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.[xxii]

The effects of technology, with this view, are cloaked in subtle epistemic shifts that happen with each new technology introduced into society. In California, there occur literally thousands of earthquakes per year, but the vast majority of them go unnoticed. Even though the earth has fundamentally changed under your feet, you are unaware of it, that is, until your house collapses or needs to be regraded. The architectural technology used in California to construct houses and buildings is regulated by different inspection laws than, say, Florida where homes need to meet hurricane-proof specifications. Likewise, until there are grand and noticeable ruptures within our society, we do not notice the changes that happen in our environments. This is what McLuhan calls a "break boundary" following Kenneth Boulding.[xxiii] McLuhan boiled these concepts down to one clear yet too often misunderstood phrase "the medium is the message." The problem with our culture is that we are too busy looking at the surface of the water like poor Narcissus and we ignore the depth that lies below. We can draw further analogies to this media philosophy with Plato’s allegory of the cave or even the radical phenomenalism of Jean Baudrillard (who we will visit below.) But the point remains the same – we have to critically engage our technology to see how it shapes our culture, our values, and our episteme, in short, our rationality.

Many have considered McLuhan to be a "media determinist" and, for that matter we can probably place Heidegger in the same category. For McLuhan the process of modern automation and mechanization began with the introduction of the Gutenberg printing press where text and ideas became open to commodification and fragmentation. McLuhan locates the root of Cartesian certainty, the notion of clear and distinct ideas in an intelligible and perfectly coherent system of logic and reason (arguably the genesis of the modern ideal of rationality), in the invention of movable print. "The line, the continuum became the organizing principle of life. ‘As we begin, so shall we go.’ ‘Rationality’ and logic came to depend on the presentation of connected and sequential facts or concepts."[xxiv] This further lead to modern specialization, fragmentation, and particularization that Heidegger saw as a powerful force within the same cultural milieu. Technological media, beginning with print, was the driving force behind virtually all things modern from high modernism located in formalism, new criticism, and differentiation, and in even the avant-garde;[xxv] to the rigid structure of Newtonian mechanics and Fordist supply-side capitalism.[xxvi] Here McLuhan is right in line with the antagonistic view of modernization for both Heidegger and Mumford. McLuhan, although he would deny the charge without offering an alternative view,[3] sees cultural and social formation as determined by media technology. This is made even clearer in his distinction between "cool" and "hot" media as we shall see.

With electronic media McLuhan argues a fundamental shift in culture that moves from differentiation to integration. The automobile, the airplane, and the train all serve to implode space by conquering it through speed and time.[xxvii] The telephone, the transistor, the wireless, the television, all implode distance and "cool down" the media of mechanized production. Cause and effect are replaced with instantaneity and linear progression is imploded into simultaneity. A "hot medium" is one that has high definition and low participation as in a lecture. When the hot media of modernity are the primary shaping force in our culture we become more uniform and mechanized with low participation – or in Heidegger’s terms the "standing-reserve." On the other hand, a "cool medium" has low definition and high participation such as a telephone conversation requires the interlocutor to "fill in the gaps" herself by adding to the conversation. McLuhan saw a hot culture cooling down by the unified field theories of physics that have their practical application in electromagnetic communications. Hence the differentiation of fragmented society and selves becomes integrated into what he calls, in another oft misused and misunderstood phrase, "the global village."

Electric circuitry profoundly involves men with one another. Information pours upon us, instantaneously and continuously. As soon as information is acquired, it is very rapidly replaced by still newer information…Instant communication insures that all factors of the environment and of experience co-exist in a state of active interplay…The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.[xxviii]

The tacit level at work within McLuhan’s thought at this juncture is the influence of Teilhard de Chardin who envisioned a grand spiritual evolution of humankind into a rather vague concept of the Omega point, where ultimate unity is achieved. More exactly, de Chardin envisioned a great noosphere where everyone on earth would be connected through electronic communication that he likened to a grand global mind. We may reasonably say that the global village is, for McLuhan, a positive force in culture that moves us out of modern fragmentation.

Of course, this whole process is driven by electronic technology. For Heidegger the capacity of technology to reveal Being is a very similar positive aspect of technology. Thus, both have in their criticisms a negative view of modernity, with at least a positive view of the possibilities inherent for the future through the way that technology can shape that future. However, neither prognosticates in the sense of many contemporary media philosophers who follow Alvin Toffler in the "futurist" genre of analysis.[xxix]

To conclude, both Heidegger and McLuhan share the feeling that technology is at least the primary if not the shaping force in culture. This shaping goes on at a level that is invisible to us and we must exit our caves, as it were, to realize that what we see in our technology as a mere means is shadows on a cave wall one step removed from the invisible reality that exists outside the cave. If this is the case, even if we do not conclude that technology determines but only conditions culture, we must take seriously the claims and the shaping force it has on our rationality itself. Are we indeed moving into a global village by the "cooling down" of our technological media? Is humanity becoming more unified through its technology? Through this, is Being being revealed to us? To these questions we must now turn.

The Ambiguous Postmodern Rift

On one level technology has unified us, and on another it has pushed us further apart. Many who have read McLuhan have anachronistically applied our present media capabilities through the World Wide Web, satellites, and fiber optics to his theory of the global village in a quite literal and perhaps artificial manner. This globalizing that ensues in electronic technology is seen to have been perhaps the chief factor of the process of globalization, and Marshall McLuhan is perhaps the new ubiquitous spokesperson for the theory. But if we read our culture through these theories with a myopic view to the global village master image of globalization, we also misapprehend the critical view that McLuhan proffered and we also ignore his wake up call to the masses that are numbed by their very globalizing technology. If we are looking at technology from the view that McLuhan wished we would, and we are, then globalization by itself is simply an inadequate way of apprehending cultural change. Globalization, taken in its rawest form, simply will not suffice to answer the deeper level in the murky waters that we are after. But when we place the concept of globalization in a broader context, we are then able to view it as a part of a wider phenomenon that is epistemically and culturally shaping us in which we may find the depth of the changing around us – this wider phenomenon is postmodernism.

Why locate globalization within postmodernism? This question can be answered if we look at the rationalities of both through present technologies. That the economy is now global is, or should be, seen as a global, trans-national phenomenon is of no doubt. No market in trading of stocks is isolated from the others. This was clearly the case with the Russia and East-Asian market collapses in 1998 and the more recent corrections in the U.S. markets that have in turn affected the trading behavior in other markets world-wide. Trading is now done at night by investors who can see their stocks fluctuate in over-seas markets via World Wide Web connections. Companies are global if they are successful with production, management, intelligence, packaging, parts manufacture, and assembly all done in varying parts of the globe under the auspices of one company that is often a conglomerate of several corporations. This global economy is felt with the various products bought and sold on a regular basis and especially with investments.

This globalized economy simply could not have arisen to its present state if it had not been for the electronic technologies that make it possible – technologies that have erupted since the late seventies. In the seventies we moved from analog and transistor information generation to silicon chips that have developed in capabilities at an exponential rate since then. The move into digital transmission has enabled us to increase speed, storage, and clarity over larger and larger distances with the information we wish to route. When we add electronic mail, hypertext, and faxing to the mix, and are able to send all of this through light-speed digital transmission, it is then possible to have a corporation in which a desk in Singapore can easily communicate with offices in Germany and Seattle simultaneously, thus instancing the collapse in distance – a collapse of which McLuhan saw the genesis in the sixties and seventies. It is thus perfectly reasonable for globalization theorists to place a great deal of emphasis on McLuhan for their theories. Information technology itself, being global and trans-national in nature, seems to engender such a global economy.

But if we move out of the global economy into the cultural influence, globalization theory suffers from the Narcissism McLuhan disdained. It is here where postmodern theory allows us dive in to see what lies at the bottom of the lake. What happens when we go deeper is that we see that globalization is part of a larger and broader concept of postmodernity – as an emergence from modernity into an as yet defined era in history in which a distinctive rationality of plurality and fallibilism sets in. We see this occurring in the flagship of postmodern technologies – the Internet.

Flexibility in "The Informational Space of Flows"

What makes the Internet such a novel technology is that not only its primary product, but its only product is pure information. This is not information solely in terms of text but through various images and sounds as well. The Internet is an abstraction to the world that we inhabit; yet it is also intimately tied to our world as a technology having a shaping force on the world. This abstract and virtual world is often called "cyberspace." The shape that the Internet gives to the world is perhaps still rather concealed, but as we have seen, its impact on the global economy is quite clear. The question is why it makes our economy global, what it does to our present perceptions, and how the sort of rationality that is intrinsic to the Internet can give us clues about the shaping of our rationality today.

The Internet was developed as a system to interconnect numerous locally networked computer systems enabling different networks to communicate with each other by means of the Domain Name System (DNS) wherein each computer has a specific address or Internet Protocol (IP). However, each network communicated information in different formats and so, translation was necessary from network to network. The World Wide Web was later developed as "a unified and simple means of utilizing all the resources of the Internet…broadly consisting of two parts: a means of organising resources and a means of looking at that organisation."[xxx] What has come out of this is the .com, .org, .edu, etc. address system that is a far more universal and centralized way of locating different computers and systems. The centralization of the Internet by way of the World Wide Web makes the entire, vast system global and trans-national with millions of centers of activity all over the world. It enables anyone to have access to the Internet and also enables anyone to publish information worldwide almost instantaneously.

The entire construction of the Internet and the World Wide Web is from the want to send information across vast distances and create access to information that is less centralized in terms of access yet efficient at the same time. Thus this technological achievement was built on information for the purpose of information and its product is information itself. Ostensibly, many have seen the Web as a source for creating a more egalitarian space that is more free, universal, unlimited in resources, and unhindered by spatial constraints. However, the information itself lends us to a significant shift in power structures where those who have power in cyberspace are those who are most able to control the information flow itself. Bill Gates still has the ultimate goal of living in a world where each household has at least one personal computer that is connected to the Web and thus, to everyone else in the world. The implicit suggestion in this goal is that all of these computers will be operating with a Microsoft Windows operating system. Thus, the development of what products we are able to purchase and use to control the amount of information we access and digest is ultimately controlled by sources outside our household. However, there is another level of technopower in the hands of "hackers" - those who have a high level of expertise in computer technology and are able to infiltrate and usurp control of cyberspace at will (precisely what has happened recently when Yahoo! was suspended for over three hours due to a hacker "prank.") "Where hackers have the power to manipulate whatever exists in cyberspace, Gates and those like him have the power to wrench the fabric of cyberspace in new directions."[xxxi] Power then lends itself over to those who have the greatest access, the most expertise, and the strongest knowledge of the software and networked environment.[4] Power will always move in this direction of the "technopower elite" and so, control over the Web remains largely in these hands.

What exactly is it that the technopower elite are controlling? "Cyberspace provides to offline life a unique space of information flow. Not only does cyberspace create its own particular forms of life, but it contributes an extraordinary form of space that is indispensable to the new form of global socio-economy that looks likely to dominate the twenty-first century."[xxxii] In terms of the economy we have seen how this space is both global and always active. But what is also true about this space is that it is a web where every part is linked to every part and where there is no center that one can locate. Everything is linked by way of "hypertext" - "a dynamic referencing system in which all texts are interrelated. Hypertext is no less than electronic intertextuality, the text of all texts, a supertext."[xxxiii] From this view we may think that hypertext is simply a way of organizing our information like a large library where we can cite our sources instantaneously. Perhaps this is accurate, but it is only part of the picture. There is a way of organizing thought that occurs in hypertext that is quite different than when reading the quite linear, line by line, page by page, motion of the written word. In hypertext one can jump from place to place without the need to process thought in a linear fashion. Organizing thought happens by way of "a literacy that is prompted by jumps of intuition and association."[xxxiv] The informational space of flows within the grander matrix of cyberspace carries with it a more flexible way of thinking and so, a far more flexible rationality. "So each reader in effect becomes author, in part, of the text that comes into being as the text is hypertextually read across documents"[xxxv] where "the center (of the text) is not the center"[xxxvi] and "the signification of the saying goes beyond the said."[xxxvii] This way of thinking would probably give Descartes a heart-attack and perhaps makes Jacques Derrida grin a bit. And it is also the type of thinking that permeates the postmodern turn in literature and the arts. It is in this way that technology is an outward sign of inward realities within cultures. Hence, globalization theory by itself is correct in looking at developments in information technology as a source for the spread of globalization. However, its failing is that it does not recognize the postmodern rationality that such information technology signifies. What it signifies is the culture from which it has arisen and to which it gives sustenance.

There’s a Pessimist in Every Crowd

Although it seems quite clear that the informational space of flows in cyberspace determines the new global economy, it does not seem that it has the same determining effect on the culture from which it has emerged, hence, we are calling it an outward sign of that culture. This is to say that while Internet and Web technologies do not determine our culture, they are inseparably related to it and, to this degree, have a shaping force on culture – they condition rather than determine our culture. The very thought processes associated with hypertext have been active in our culture (specifically the Western world) since well before the emergence of the Web. We can go back as far as Kierkegaard to find these roots, but our focus is more well placed in Jean Baudrillard’s theories that argue for a heightened abstractness within culture pointing us to the negative side of an intertextual world view where meaning is paradoxically contained in and unbound by deferánce. He encapsulates this strange worldview with the term simulacra.

To fully understand what he means by this term it is helpful to understand something about the social context from which Baudrillard was coming. At the same time that the Vietnam era of protest was injecting heavy doses of confusion and violence across the United States, a neo-Marxist movement was rising from a socially active academy in France called the Situationists. Out of this milieu came prominent thinker Guy DeBord, among others, who was initially part of a French avant-garde artistic movement. The surge of disposable capital in post-World War II consumerism gave impetus for the debate over modern society. The movement emphasized forms of media and consumer society that DeBord called "the society of the spectacle" in which authenticity is absorbed into a world where "all that once was directly lived has become mere representation."[xxxviii] "In this society, individuals consume a world fabricated by others rather than producing one of their own."[xxxix] In a society where relationships are mediated by images alienation rises while authenticity is consumed by an increasingly passive society (or, a "hot" society in McLuhan’s terms). Thus reality is reduced to appearance as an end in itself. The mission of the Situationists was to find ways for people to express their authenticity by creating new "situations" through a critical hermeneutics "that sees through appearances, illusions, and fantasies to the realities being masked and covered over."[xl] The praxis of this mission was to reverse the abstractness of spectacular life by détournement - "the fluid language of anti-ideology (that) occurs within a type of communication aware of its inability to enshrine any inherent and definitive certainty."[xli] It is a way of deconstructing situations established by passive consumption of images. And by deconstructing these situations through altering political slogans, defacing billboards, using graffiti, etc. the Situationists hoped to reveal the bourgeois control of image media and society as a whole. Thus with DeBord we see a reliance on Hegelian modernism through Marxist praxis.

Baudrillard came from this same setting and he seems to share the view that society has become spectaclized as the proliferation of the image as the ends and means of production increases abstraction. However, he does this while dumping references to Marx in a conscious and overt postmodern theory that tries to divorce itself completely from modernism. His theory ups the ante of abstraction to a heightened level that in the end looks quite bizarre and counter-intuitive. There is no longer any mission to find authenticity and truth that is veiled by the image. Rather it is the image that exists on its own. There is no more reality at stake. We have completely and utterly lost any concept of what the real is, and the drive to seek the real can only find itself satiated by images that cannot really satiate at all. He gives the impression that society has become so abstract that even events and activities that we take as quite "normal" are simply another form of the illusory nature of our culture. Thus there is an extreme negation in society that can never find redemption because there is nothing available to redeem it - all of our possible resources are illusions or abstract simulations so removed from what they once simulated that the object of simulation has been utterly destroyed.

Whereas representation attempts to absorb simulation by interpreting it as false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of representation itself as a simulacrum.

Such would be the successive phases of the image:
it is the reflection of a profound reality;
it masks and denatures a profound reality;
it masks the absence of a profound reality;
it has no relation to any reality whatsoever: it is its own pure simulacrum.[xlii]

In contrast to DeBord, we see no hint at social action or reform. Such acts are pointless in a world of simulation. If we feel compelled to reform our society, we need to know what to reform. But if we ask "What shall we reform?" the only answer available via Baudrillard is nothing. Even the question is absurd because we have lost any concept of reform itself - even the concept is an illusion. For Baudrillard we live in a world of societies that have been duped by a grand illusion and sadly live within it, but will never realize it. Even realizing the illusory denatured nature of society is itself an illusion. Thus, even the notion of an invisible, shaping environment is taken to a heightened level of abstraction that pushes us to a rather hopeless and nihilistic world-view. The search for Being for Heidegger, is hopeless because Being is not there any more. Or, returning to another allegory, all that remains is shadows for all that remains is the cave – there is no longer anything outside that is really real.

To a degree, cyberspace takes on this relationship to the real. Cyberspace is not a space that closely resembles the spaces in which we inhabit daily with our bodies. In cyberspace you rarely are aware of whom you are sending information to and from. Identity is cloaked behind a veil called an avatar or on-line identity. While you may think that you are sending messages to and receiving them from a twenty-year-old lingerie model it may actually be an elderly woman in curlers (as parodied in a recent commercial). Or, on a more serious note, it could actually be a pedophilic voyeur looking for a partner to fulfill his sexual fantasies. But there is a reciprocal effect that the avatar has on human identity itself.

There were times when the cacophony of selves in cyberspace frustrated me so much that I attempted to end my virtual life, literally. The drama of my identity in cyberspace brought me great anxiety about my "real" identity. On three different occasions, I sent my acquaintances, friends, and virtual communities what a friend later called "virtual suicide notes." I wrote the first after only six months on-line, and I wrote the last after about three years on-line…I could no longer maintain such an aggregation of personae. I wanted to stop and separate myself from this society of identities that all reflected me and yet did not represent me. I had let my self (selves) become too diffused throughout cyberspace. The person I thought of as Tom Beaudoin dissolved into a wide-ranging constellation of personalities that different on-line communities knew only as TBEAUDOIN. If asked, they would all have described TBEAUDOIN differently.[xliii]

The above experience is an example of identity fluidity in which there is an "elastic connection" between online and offline identities, between avatars and physical identity. "Avatars can develop to the point where the connections between identities is so stretched, so tenuous, that the ‘ping’ of broken elastic can be heard in cyberspace, but the connection can be surprisingly strong, with collective refusals to think of avatars as distinct identities."[xliv] In the case of Beaudoin, such a snap in the elastic fibers connecting his offline and offline identities can be seen in his "virtual suicide notes." There are many issues regarding identity formation and psychosocial development that are well worth exploring but are not needed here.

What is most salient for the present argument is that here we see the tension that exists in the relationship between the virtual and the real. With the World Wide Web one can copy images and text from an infinite amount of contexts and then place them in any other context. There is no limit regarding what images can be used with what text and what hyperlinks can link to what. Thus signs can be removed from their original referents and take on new and often contradictory meanings. One can place a cross on a page about fishing that links to a page about gardening that links to a page selling comic books and ad infinitum. Moreover, in the abstract geography of cyberspace, reality is completely composed out of pure information where the information load increases by thousands upon thousands of new words, images, sounds, and video daily. Even if Baudrillard’s theory of the simulacra seems to be a bit on the cynical side for our biological life, it seems to be an apt description of the realities that live in cyberspace.

Cyberspace takes the postmodern notions of plurality, deconstruction, intertextuality, web, paradox, contradiction, and simulation and brings them to a material form that we can interact with and use as a tool. In this way it is a perfect fit with a postmodern world that has been seeking ways to incorporate these notions into our rationality and society for years (e.g. the Situationists and poststructuralism). Baudrillard’s philosophy of culture adds a significant lens that magnifies the processes that go on within cyberspace despite that this philosophy has root twenties years before World Wide Web, Internet, and ".com" were widely available signs in our culture. What is so startling, perhaps overwhelming, about the way that signs and information are brought to us over the Internet and the Web is the sheer volume of them – each demanding our undivided attention. This heightened pluralism that takes shape in the Internet is a perfect fit for a postmodern culture that celebrates pluralism and web metaphors for rationality.

On the economic side, fading are the days of the assembly line and the tenured employee waiting for retirement pension. Those who are able to control information as it flows and use it as a commodity for personal profit are replacing this work force. The knowledge engineer is the new line worker, the university is the new factory, and information is the new product that is becoming more and more abstracted from its material referent. The "new economy" spurred on by the new technology is still in a period of transition just as our society is groaning though a movement away from modernity and modern rationality into postmodernity and a postmodern rationality signified by its offspring technology that will continue to give it shape.

Thus the emerging information technologies, of which the Internet and World Wide Web are key, arise from the emerging postmodern rationality of culture and shape that culture. Since they arise from culture they do not determine it, but condition it in a powerful and rather explicit way. The continued implementation of these technologies will give continued sustenance to the postmodern rationality in culture. Only with a simultaneous view to postmodern culture and the technology arising from it can we form a philosophy of technology that goes below the surface to explore the depths of the events that are surrounding us daily.

Technology and Theology

If we are in an age where plurality and information through technology shape our rationality, how is it possible for the church to have a voice that can be heard? The very mediums we use to communicate the voice of the church will more and more resemble the plurality and juxtaposition of an overload of information. Indeed the incredible shaping force of technologies such as the Internet and television have been widely documented and explored already. But the emergence of new developments in technology is increasing and will continue to increase at an exponential rate.[5] Will Christ be relegated to one piece of information among others? How can we say that God really exists in a world where simulation is taking the place of reality? In the tension between simulation and reality, how will we define reality in the future? If we follow the example set before us by McLuhan and Heidegger we can learn approaches to these issues. It is a matter of 1) coming into a proper relationship to our technologies, and 2) understanding how our media have a powerful shaping force on our communities, our cultures, our societies, and our selves. What it also means is that the media we use to understand God will shape our very understanding of God.

For the modern era the book is the shaping technology on our conceptions of God. But when the book enters into the electronic world of cyberspace our conceptions of God and our ways of apprehending Scripture as a revelatory text will change. The book is a perfect sign for a modern world of fixed and linear rationality. But when that book becomes hypertextualized in a non-foundational cyberspace this primary means of Christian revelation changes into a web-like construction that we cannot fixate. It moves into a world where interactivity and plurality push in through the membrane of the book deconstructing it to a series of linked texts. Such an action taken on Scripture is not intentional – it is invisible, and how it is shaping our theological rationality is also invisible. But realizing that these shifts happen as we engage theology through technology is an important first step that we have not yet made.

If we look at the history of Christianity, the early church was also faced with a vast amount of plural voices as well – the various cults of the barbarians, local deities, and mystery religions. Christianity, in this sense, was born within a culture loaded with plural voices. And in the midst of such plurality, Christianity took shape in the form of small congregations of people in covert locations and houses throughout the kingdom. What is so qualitatively different with our situation today is that plurality is instantaneous and the amount of information that bombards us dwarfs the situation of our antiquarian progenitors.

The rationality in our present technology is different from the type of relativism we find in non-foundationalism and it is certainly not foundationalism. While cyberspace signifies the sort of rationality we find in postmodernity, it also contains its own unique rationality that can absorb any other rationality into itself with the outcome of a radical change in that rationality. For example, there are hundreds of Christian pages devoted to the propagation of strict foundationalist doctrines such as rigid five-point Calvinism. What is so odd is that when we propagate foundationalist rhetoric in cyberspace, it takes on the inherently non-foundational and plural web-like characteristics of cyberspace itself. The shift in one’s rationality by virtue of accessing this information in cyberspace is occurring at a tacit and invisible level. Even if we are trying to communicate the most rigid foundationalist doctrines we can conceive, by virtue of communicating them with such conventions as hypertext and electronic text through web browsers and word processors, we are transforming the ways in which such foundationalist doctrines can be conceived. Thus rigid dogma is subsumed by an invisible technological environment and is shaped by that environment. Once we publish material on the Internet, it becomes subordinate to the structure of cyberspace itself. This means that it becomes subordinate to all of the salient issues regarding how technology shapes our rationality we have discussed above.

Paradoxically, cyberspace is also a mathematical structure that has defined limits. In this way even the very non-foundationalist rationality cyberspace creates has at its core a foundation located in the software and hardware that creates it. The non-foundational environment of cyberspace is created by foundational software packages that are run by foundational hardware technologies. This is where the idea of a technopower elite is crucial for thinking about theology in the terms that cyberspace is presenting to us. Theology - even in a completely non-foundational, web-like rationality signified and shaped by emerging technology - is ultimately constricted by the technological elite who are more able to control information flow in a way that meets their wants and desires, even when these wants and desires are for the purpose of bettering the rest of society and humanity. Thus, there are definite limits set up by the very structure of technology itself – limits controlled by those other than theologians and pastors. How will the church cope with the limited structures set up by the technopower elite if it chooses to use emerging information technology to communicate the Gospel?

This also brings up key issues in ecclesiology and worship. If we are to use the new communications technologies such as the Internet for the church and for theological reflection, how will our organizational structures and conceptions of how God is to be worshipped change? If we are to use the Internet to communicate the Gospel, how is God present to the listeners, readers, and viewers of the message? Is it possible to establish a church that exists in cyberspace? As the interaction between the virtual and the real increases, and as the boundary between both seems to attenuate, how will we understand what the body of Christ is? Does cyberspace transform Scripture into any other text that is accessible on the Internet? Does cyberspace become an icon that lifts us to God or an idol that pulls us away from God by its invisible epistemic ruptures in our rationalities? What are proper symbols for God in cyberspace? Are symbols for God even possible? These are all questions that we will have to ask more and more in the coming years if we are to avoid the blind numbness that McLuhan saw infiltrating the minds of a society intoxicated by its invention.

The effect of our information technology on theology is that the non-foundationalist and pluralistic world of cyberspace complicates our understandings of God and Christ in a reciprocal relation to a culture that has already given rise to these issues in a non-foundationalist rationality. Our technology will heighten the rationalities in our culture, and when it does this, it will shape them into new forms. For the first time in human history we are dealing with a conflict between the virtual and the real and both exist in a tandem interchange in cyberspace. This phenomenon is something that we have yet to find a reasoning strategy that fits. Thinkers like Postman, McLuhan, and Heidegger give us tools for forming a right relationship to our technologies that will critically engage the virtual that we may see how it shapes our rationality. But the present permutation of information technology is still so new and it produces so much information that we have simply not had enough time to think through these emerging issues. What is clear is that we ought not to be afraid to wait, slow down, and ponder what our technologies will do and how we will use them before we actually bring them into our environments. This is precisely what we have had to confront in the issues surrounding genetic engineering and cloning. But information technology works at such a tacit level and we are perhaps making so much money off of it at the moment that we are facing a growing danger in heightened levels of numbness due to our rapid and uncritical adoption of it.

[1] Luddite is a term with a vague origin that has come to be the label of those who are strictly opposed to technological development. It perhaps originated when a man by the name of Ludd supposedly led a revolt of textile workers in the late 19th century. The reason for the revolt, it is believed, is that the workers were feeling as if machines were dominating their craft and the human worker was taking a more and more unimportant role in manufacturing. Machines are thus seen to constrict rather than aid civilization by relegating the human spirit more and more to the background of the real shapers of society – our technological inventions.

[2] If this sounds strangely similar to Emanuel Levinas, one would not be making an incorrect comparison – Heidegger’s existential thought is a major source for many all so-called postmodern philosophers and theologians from Jaques Derrida and Levinas to George Steiner and Jean-Luc Marion. This applies to his advocates and his critics.

[3] He did not want to be labeled a media determinist because he never prognosticated what the future of media and society would look like. This sounds perhaps like a spin tactic to avoid the label. What we have seen from his theory thus far is that he clearly saw cultural movement not simply conditioned by technology, but determined by it. Even his student Paul Levinson would call him a media determinist in his dissertation (see Paul Levinson. Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium. (New York, NY Routledge, 1998).

[4] Admittedly this is a bit of a generalization, but it is qualified. There are certainly economic factors that we also ought to take into account among them, the realization that computers are the means to access to Internet (regardless whether they are portable or not) and computers cost a great deal of money, rendering power also to those who have capital to support access. But as Tim Jordan notes, "Many hackers do not use a powerful computer but have discarded or cheap machines. Many hackers are teenagers without the financial resources themselves, and often without parental resources, to buy up-to-date machines but who have the passion and commitment to learn extraordinary amounts about phone and computer systems" (Jordan 91).

[5] Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, hypothesized in 1965 that computing speed would increase such that it would double every two years. This "theory", aptly called "Moore’s Law", has since the proven to be strikingly accurate. (For more information on the growth of silicon based computing and its inherent limits see Technology Review. May/June 2000.)

 

References

[i] Neil Postman. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. (New York, NY: Vintage, 1992).

[ii] Ibid., 23.

[iii] Ibid., 25.

[iv] Lewis Mumford. Technics and Civilization. (San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace, 1990), 53, 54.

[v] Ibid., Postman, 45.

[vi] Ibid., 5.

[vii] Martin Heidegger. The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays. (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1982), 46.

[viii] Ibid., 36.

[ix] Ibid., 119-120.

[x] Ibid., 121.

[xi] See J. Wentzel van Huyssteen. The Shaping of Rationality. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998).

[xii] Ibid., 121.

[xiii] Ibid., 127.

[xiv] Ibid., 10.

[xv] Ibid., 14.

[xvi] Ibid., 20-23.

[xvii] Michael Heim. The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1994), 61.

[xviii] Ibid., Heidegger, 23.

[xix] Marshall McLuhan. "The Playboy Interview – Part 2". http://www.mcluhanmedia.com/ m_mcl_inter_pb_02.html. (ONLINE, April 14, 2000).

[xx] Ibid., Heim, 54-72.

[xxi] Marshall McLuhan. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1964), 18.

[xxii] Ibid., 18.

[xxiii] Ibid., 38.

[xxiv] Marshall McLuhan. The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects. (1967), 44-45.

[xxv] Steven Best, and Douglas Kellner. The Postmodern Turn. (New York: Guilford Press, 1997), 126-129.

[xxvi] David Harvey. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. (Blackwell, NJ: Blackwell’s, 1990).

[xxvii] Ibid.

[xxviii] Ibid., McLuhan, 1967, 63,67

[xxix] See also Ray Kurzweil. The Spiritual Age of Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence. (New York, NY: Penguin, 2000).

[xxx] Tim Jordan. Cyberpower: The Culture and Politics of Cyberspace and the Internet. (New York, NY: Routledge, 1999), 43

[xxxi] Ibid., 143.

[xxxii] Ibid., 165.

[xxxiii] Ibid., Heim, 30.

[xxxiv] Ibid.

[xxxv] Paul Levinson. The Soft Edge: A Natural History and Future of the Information Revolution. (New York, NY: Routledge, 1997), 146.

[xxxvi] Jaques Derrida. Writing and Difference. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978), 279.

[xxxvii] Emanuel Levinas. Otherwise than Being: or Beyond Essence. (Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1998), 37.

[xxxviii] Guy Debord. The Society of the Spectacle. (Zone, 1998), 1.

[xxxix] Ibid., Best & Kellner, 82.

[xl] Ibid., 91.

[xli] Ibid, Debord, 208.

[xlii] Jean Baudrillard. Simulacra and Simulation. (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1995), 6.

[xliii] Tom Beaudoin. Virtual Faith: The Irreverent Spiritual Quest of Generation X. (Jossey Bass, 1998), 135-136.

[xliv] Ibid., Jordan, 75.

All content ©2000 Andrew Tatusko


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