Technology as Artificial Representation

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Otto Paans:

"The very idea of “natural representation,” when combined with the 17th-century Cartesian idea of an objective space in which we can represent by means of coordinates, contributed significantly to the emergence of the mechanistic worldview: not only is the natural world nothing but a large-scale complex machine, but also the human perceptual mind is nothing but a small-scale simple machine like a pinhole camera, i.e., a camera obscura. This thought-shaping mental model—the human perceptual mind as a camera obscura—which more or less covertly lies behind the shaped thought that the technology associated with the leading formal and natural sciences are the final answer to the problem of mental representation—whether it is a pinhole camera, a brownie camera, a movie camera, or a digital camera application in a smart phone—has proven to be a remarkably influential and persistent myth. The increasing mathematization of the sciences, the models for problemsolving derived from engineering, the reduction of biology to statistical mathematics, evolutionary genetics, chemistry, and physics, and the reduction of animal behavior to Turing-computable algorithms, as well as the reduction of consciousness to physico-neural processes, all point in the same conceptual direction: the variety of life itself must be brought under one idealizing system of representation. And, not surprisingly, that very idiom is conceptual and limited to the operations of mathematizability and/or formal logic. The fact that science itself speaks in abstractions and idealizations does not in the slightest stop the advance of mechanistic thinking, because it justifies its existence by appeals to its objectivity and practical efficacy. Thereby, it reduces life (and in its wake, Being) to phenomena that are understood once they can be replicated or described in mathematical (and increasingly digital) terms, potentially making them available for artificial reproduction."