This is a cheap, shallow connection backed by little to no technical knowledge or research, but I thought it was interesting, so what the hell.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I like Hegel. At first Hegel was the necessary evil that I had to go through to study Lacan, Marx and religion. Then he took over my PhD, but in the back of my mind it was still just a hoop to jump through on the way to later research interests. But now, I actually really like Hegel. Especially after reading Heidegger. I find Hegel so much more convincing in his method, his conclusions and the political implications of both (at least as I see them).
Then this morning I was listening to an old Radiolab episode on ‘What Technology Wants’, taken from the title of a Kevin Kelly book. Kelly, who was one of the guests, was describing how technology taken as a whole, has come to have a degree of autonomy. For example, imagine trying to turn off the internet. I can’t even understand what that means. How would you do it?
What Hegel offers is a way of understanding these kinds of things. Technology, politics, religion… things that are related to human beings, but have developed a kind of autonomy. God acts in the world. I don’t believe in a divine being, but there is an idea, referred to commonly as God, who has effects on people. Hegel gives us a way of understanding this without necessitating that we ascribe wholeheartedly to confessional ideas about God, but while also allowing us not to condescendingly dismiss the way that a substantial number of people order the world. I think this logic is transferable to the way we think about all ideas or processes that originate within humanity, but then achieve a degree of autonomy (granted there is a difference between religion and technology, but perhaps the difference is as profound as often think).