Saturday, August 17, 2013


The Industrial Revolution dehumanized people by turning our most human activity - our work - into something entirely inhuman. Assembly lines and other forms of specialization transformed people into cogs. Individuals no longer experienced the pride of creating a finished product.

Perhaps in response, the Victorian era revered scholarship. Work having become grindingly inhuman, erudition became the ne plus ultra for humanity. Educators drilled facts into students, and the most respected scholars were walking encyclopedias of their subjects.

Nowadays, with everyone carrying supercomputers in their pockets, it seems silly to locally store in one's brain data that can be instantly looked up. Walking encyclopedias now strike us as eerily inhuman; more akin to hard drives than people.

So what's left? If erudition's redundant and work is prideless, where do we find our humanity? It is, as ever, in those realms where humans were always most deeply aglow: wisdom, beauty, art, kindness, and creativity. You know, the hippy-ish spheres many people sneer at.

My concern is for the sneerers. I'm not sure where they can turn. There's always religion, which periodically moistens into something palpably human, but that realm tends to mostly dry into dogma, tribalism, and sanctimony.

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