(BIO)technological Images about Human Self-Construction on Spain Context: A Preliminar Study

By Coca, Juan R.; Matas, Jesus A. Valero | Studies in Sociology of Science, June 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

(BIO)technological Images about Human Self-Construction on Spain Context: A Preliminar Study


Coca, Juan R., Matas, Jesus A. Valero, Studies in Sociology of Science


INTRODUCTION

Along history of human thought, technology3 has been studied bearing in mind that it was a mere tool to transform reality. With the passing of time and, above all, nowadays, technology has been considered more important than it used to be and it has been proved that it maintains a tight (bidirectional) link with issues from a wide variety of fields: ethic, political, social, epistemological, religious, etc. For this reason, the number of people who study this particular field is increasing. The reason for this, in words of Garcia Bacca, is that we breathe technology all day long. Therefore, the development of human civilizations is parallel to technological development. To that effect, the first deep thoughts on technology, made by Ortega (1982), Heidegger (1994) or Ellul (1960) focused on the anthropological link with technology. Ortega y Gasset himself considered the human being as a Homo faber.

With the Industrial Revolution, and thanks to capitalism, technological development enjoys a great push taking "western" civilization into a new paradigm. Later on, in the 20th century technology starts to be seen as profoundly linked to scientific development. Finally, by the mid seventies, people started to talk about technoscience.

Technological progress along the 20th century has generated a great level of social mutation. The new sources of energy, the synthesis of new materials with properties never thought before, laser technology or biotechnology have invaded every single filed of human being with the consequence that the greater social system is articulated, more than ever before, round the technological activity. In turn, technological activity never had before such a notorious repercussion in the structure of this great system (Quintanilla, 2005 & Woolgar, 1988).

One of the activities which seem to have the greatest social repercussion is that of biotechnology. This has caused a great discussion in many societies. For this reason, authors like Jeremy Rifkin already talk about the century of biotechnology. This new era presents, according to this author (Rifkin, 1999) an operative array with a number of elements making this new era possible:

1. Human beings have the capacity to isolate, identify and recombine genes so that these can be considered as raw material of future economic activity.

2. Commercialization via patents of genes, cell lines, tissues, organs and organisms developed thanks to genetic engineering.

3. Globalization of commerce and business makes possible to exert an unknown power over the biotic resources of the planet.

4. Knowledge of the human genome and the development of genetic and molecular technology pave the way for a complete change of the human species and the born of a eugenic civilization driven by economy.

5. The new scientific research about the genetic basis of behaviour and the new socio-biology, offer the cultural context to accept new biotechnologies.

6. Computer and telematic means provide the suitable communication and organization to manage the genetic information based on the biotechnological economy.

7. The new ideas about nature, compatible with the operative assumptions of new technologies and the new global economy, offer the frame to legitimize the century of biotechnology.

Thus, it can not be denied that the social systems is heading unstoppable towards a new (bio) technological paradigm where the human self-transformation acquires an unusual importance. This new era, ruled by the possibilities of human change, generates a number of images, metaphors or imaginaries (although this concept is, in principle, much deeper than the others) allowing us to glimpse the course to be taken in a near future by the social systems more (bio) technolgized. For this reason, the purpose of this paper is taking the first stops towards the analysis of these humans imaginaries and, therefore, social, which will make up our future. …

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