The James Wilson Foundation on Natural Rights and the American Founding

“Technology and Natural Law” — James Poulos

Comparing Daoist and Western concepts of technology, James Poulos argues that technological innovation does not signal the end of humanity, but instead invites a return to virtue and natural law.

Some excerpts:

“[A]fter Heidegger…it had become unclear what if any cosmological understanding in the West could defeat the technologization of life and the destruction of the soul and of nature. Eastern-influenced thought resulted in plenty of chastisement of human excess, especially with regard to nature, but it wound up decisively in the service of pushing people to conclude humanity itself, with its outmoded religious, was the problem, a problem that only open-ended technological advancement could solve.”  

“[D]igital technology has taken over the world—to a degree that now makes mercilessly clear two momentous things. First, no human person or group of persons is capable anymore of taking the rule of the world away from digital technology. Second, if no people are capable of re-founding their own regimes on a basis that asserts their human rule over the regimes and the digital technology within them, then our digital technologies will disrupt the human space and time we need for politics to exist.”

“What is needed therefore is a theoretically authoritative and robust account of how nature is not a demiurge that points in judgment toward the necessity of our posthumanity, nor is a sort of cosmic escape hatch that offers spiritual release from the labors of responsibility toward our technologies and their use, but is rather a given order, one within which we are inextricably and intimately situated, that functions in intelligible ways to limit our will and perhaps even correct our behavior, even despite our myriad efforts to defy and deny that function. This, in short, is natural law.”  

Read the full article here.

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Law and liberty cannot rationally become the objects of our love, unless they first become the objects of our knowledge.
— James Wilson, Lectures on Law, 1790