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Technologies of Sin & Salvation

Technologies of Sin & Salvatation:
Capital & Technologies of Meaning in the Age of the Perpetual Innovation Economy


But so long as the market retains its transcendent status in liberal political theory, the telos of a more just and equitable social order will remain virtual, and the experience of a universal subjectivity will remain the sole province of those who can afford it.


AS A BOY, I saw my father delight in uncovering corruption for The Iowa City Press Citizen. He taught me to love both the act of writing and to stand amidst the stink and roar of the presses as they transformed words to Truths. My mother was a speech pathologist who often took me to her clinic to 'talk' with disabled children learning to use alternative speech technologies. The memory of one boy with severe muscular dystrophy struggling to communicate with his language board, spelling out what was within him one word at a time, still fills me with a sense of humility and awe.

Years later at college, I had my first glimpse of another definition of what it is to be human. In those children of extraordinary wealth, it seemed capital had realized its ideal. Those young men and women had been defined by all that they might have and be, rather than delimited by what they were never to have or attain. To my eyes, they lived untouched by any awareness of an inaccessible object. Their privileged circumstances had afforded them that precious 'universal subjectivity' to which we all aspire, whether through transcendent or earthly means.

So what do these experiences have to do with one another? They're all about the technologies of value and meaning that define our humanity and our world. They're about capital, communications and human experience — the subjects of this book. It's as inconceivable to imagine humankind without its linguistic technologies — our words and symbols — as it is to imagine a future without our capital technologies — our money, our global digital marketplace. And these technologies continue to morph and evolve at breakneck speeds. Where are they taking us?

Today, mind-boggling effort and expense are being directed at the redesign of human environments to make use of advances in information and communication technologies. On what bases are we to establish design principles for these new fields of human action? In this book, I argue that the question is more complex than is often assumed, and that a fundamentally new way of conceiving human social organization is required - one that recognizes the central role of affective, embodied experience in human cognition and culture. Evidence from a range of disciplines is presented which suggests the need for a method of researching and designing these technologies which extends from material considerations, through issues of rational cognition, and which incorporates as well the social and biological dynamics of human affect in our understanding, design and assessment of these technologies of value and meaning. Through a process of visual and linguistic metaphor analysis, the approach I suggest seeks to understand "eco-cognitive technologies," how they operate, and provide a structure of principles upon which to judge their value and effectiveness in improving both our lives and our relationship with our environment. Because of the complexity of issues involved, I use a transdisciplinary approach which involves political-economic analyses; historical and contemporary Eastern and Western theories of knowledge and meaning; biological and environmental sciences; artificial intelligence and computer science; and contemporary psychology and cognitive science.

What you see here is a draft manuscript, which is posted to invite comments about and suggestions for this work in progress. I hope you'll contact me with your thoughts.


This is a draft manuscript, which is posted to invite comments about and suggestions for this work in progress. I hope you'll contact me with your thoughts.



_ | Summary
0 | Introduction
1 | The Affect Economy
2 | Meaning Within Reason
3 | Meaning Beyond Reason
4 | A Return to Beauty
5 | Designing Value & Meaning
6 | Real World Case Studies
7 | Virtuality in the Flesh