This semester, beginning next week, I am leading six exceptional students at The King's College in a seminar on Francis Bacon's Invention of Modern Politics. We will be exploring Lord Verulam's plan to conquer nature for the relief of our estate, the benefits that have come of it, as well as the problems inherent in it. We will look closely and critically at Bacon's writings--The Great Instuaration, New Organon, New Atlantis, Essays--and then students will research the benefits and moral complications of subsequent technological developments.
For example, consider email. Most of us depend on it because we find it useful, and so we use it all the time. But we also sense a downside. What is that disturbing impulse we feel to be constantly checking our inboxes. That's not good. John Freeman explores the complexity of the technology in his book, The Tyranny of E-Mail: The Four-Thousand-Year Journey to Your Inbox. "E-mail might be cheaper, faster and more convenient, but its virtues also make us lazier, lonelier and less articulate."
Also have a look at "Louis c.k." claiming that Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy. Warning, this is very funny, and you may see yourself in one of the "spoiled idiots" he describes.
He's entertained by the fact that conservatives and Christians find his routine resonates with what they believe. What they like is clearly the call to moderation and contentment. Louis just despises them, but that's a sign that he doesn't understand either what he's saying or the conservatives and Christians. He himself is incoherent. He meant to condemn capitalism in this routine. He explains this to Opie and Anthony. (The second clip is better than the first, but blasphemous at points.) Yet capitalism is the economic system on which he depends for his lucrative career and high flying lifestyle. He also explains that he is not against technology. He just thinks we should chasten our expectations for it and have a little more peace while using it. This thought has clearly hit a nerve with people given the video's "viral" popularity. People are uncomfortably aware that while technology is good, it affects the way we see the world in ways that are morally unhealthy. And that is a subject worthy of study.