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Technology and the Trajectory of Myth

David Grant and Lyria Bennett Moses

This book presents an entirely new way of understanding technology, as the successor to the dominant ideologies that have underpinned the thought and practices of the Western world. Like the preceding ideologies of Deity, State and Market, technology displays the features of a modern myth, promising to deal with our existential concerns on condition of our subjection to them. Utilising robust empirical evidence, Lyria Bennett Moses and David Grant argue that the pathway out of this mythological maze is the production of means to establish a new sense of political, corporate and personal self-responsibility.
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Chapter 1: Introduction

David Grant and Lyria Bennett Moses

The world which has been so familiar to us is fading. That was a world in which the features we were born with would be with us for a lifetime and in which disease and ageing would make that lifetime something well short of 100 years. In that world, humanity was the only form of advanced intelligence, the world around us comprised natural elements which were long known and Earth was the only place we would live. We could have careers that lasted a lifetime and we could enjoy a decent level of privacy, even splendid isolation if we tried hard enough. Those were the certainties from which that world was made. Now that world is coming to an end, principally through the impact of emerging technologies. However, the new technologies that are disrupting that old world – especially those that have come from the genetic, information and quantum discoveries of the twentieth century – are at the same time bringing rare opportunities to address our most profound – our existential – challenges.

Nonetheless, despite the prospect of such an agreeable outcome, it must quickly be said that these opportunities come with a cautionary note. The caution is that the history of the West has shown on three previous occasions – in the fourth, the seventeenth and the twentieth centuries – that, presented with equally significant opportunities to address such challenges in a sustainable way, they were not grasped. In fact, those opportunities were turned into our continuing burdens. In each case, the promise of those opportunities blinded us to the need to properly understand and exploit them with the utmost care.

Yet, with the new technologies, we have another chance to address our deepest challenges and without creating another burden. The present work is an attempt to understand not only how we might do so but also how those earlier chances were lost. It warns that, if we approach these new technologies as those before us approached those earlier opportunities, we shall merely create another – this time possibly intractable – burden.

In saying this, it must be observed that the early signs are not promising. We are already seeing emerge a dualism of, on the one hand, a mindless embrace of and, on the other, a fearful concern about these technologies. We shall see that it was this dualism that subverted those earlier opportunities. Its source is the long, recurring pattern of mythology which has shadowed the history of the West and which is the subject of much of the present work. By such an exploration, we seek to understand our relationship with technology historically as well as technologically and so give a perspective that is not only radically new but which may well help deliver on the promise and avoid technology becoming a further, perhaps too onerous, burden.

BACKGROUND

We have a conflicted view of technology. On one side, it is often suggested in the West that technology offers a kind of utopia. We will produce more food, as well as curing cancer and other deadly diseases. We can even enhance ourselves – genetically or mechanically – to live longer, be more intelligent and cope better with life’s challenges. Technological progress is offered as a way out of many of the things that trouble us – that is the existential conditions of death, sickness and pain – while it promises to extend our powers and achievements. At the political level, we are often urged to fund technological development and minimise its regulation. At an individual level, there is social and even legal pressure to adopt new devices and engage in new practices. However, even as we are urged to unthinkingly embrace them, we often fear those same technologies, exploring this fear through the literature and film of science fiction. We imagine worlds ruled by robots or once-human cyborgs, or the possibility of a future where people are manufactured and judged according to theories of genetic optimisation. Dystopian visions can heavily cloud our enthusiasm for technological progress.

What we are arguing here is that both the optimists and the pessimists are missing the point. Both the utopian and the dystopian views are examples of mythological thinking and this makes them highly problematic.

THE WIDE FIELD OF EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

Before explaining what we mean by mythological thinking and how it is evident in the history of Western thought down to the technological age, it will be helpful to present a picture of the kinds of emerging technologies that concern us here. We do this for two reasons. The first is to provide an indication of the wide range of technologies that are increasingly impacting on our daily lives and are already producing the strong – often contrary – responses we are talking about. These are the technologies which advocates claim will resolve our fears or which detractors warn will either destroy us or alter what it means to be human. Second, beyond that, these will be the technologies to which we shall return in Chapter 2 as we assess the significance of Technology as a set of mythological ideas and practices.

The technologies we will consider emerge from three fields, although there is and will increasingly be a cross-over between them: genomics, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. These technologies will of course continue to be extended by new research across these very dynamic fields, so the examples given are intended to be indicative rather than definitive. However, they are telling. The main point is that these are but indicators of the breadth and depth of the changes being introduced into human biology, material science and the growth of artificial intelligence.

Genomics

Consider what is happening in the field of genomics, with its promises of a near future of enhanced human capacity and longevity made possible by manipulating our genome. For example, we have discovered that a human anti-ageing gene also enhances brain function.1 This knowledge may be combined with our ability to replace a defective gene with a correct sequence using a new gene-editing system,2 or other techniques of genetic engineering,3 to create smarter, longer-living humans. Alternatively, we have developed a way to turn off particular genes to create the same anti-ageing effect as calorie restriction.4 At the level of particular organs, scientists have discovered a way to regenerate a living organ for the first time.5

More generally, individual access to one’s own genome is spreading rapidly. One example of this proliferation is the announced plan of Craig Ventner’s Human Longevity project to sell genetic workups to individuals for as little as $250, a price likely to be reduced further. His sequencing of the human genome should now also be seen alongside two other projects. The first is the plan to build a human genome from scratch, the Genome-write Project, which aims to synthesise entire genomes of humans and other species from chemical components and attempts to have them function in living cells. Announced as a project with a developed ethical framework, the aspiration is to have a significant impact on human health, agriculture, energy and bioremediation.6 The other is the attempt to digitally mimic evolution to create novel proteins as a means of battling disease.7 Perhaps an even more significant development from the increased understanding of the genome are reports of Chinese research in which human embryos have been genetically modified.8

Taken together, these developments point to significant changes in our understanding, care and alteration of human biological processes and in this they lead to confidently held claims for a longer and healthier life. They do this by enabling increasing control by humans of the form and substance of human life.

Nanotechnology

Equally radical advances are being promised for the near term through nanotechnology – particularly the capacity for human control of substances at the subatomic level. This field offers significant promises for healthier, longer lives. For example, nanomedicine is offering promising pathways to cure cancer. In what is described as a DNA lock-and-key drug delivery procedure, scientists have developed synthetic DNA-based pores that control which molecules can pass through a cell’s wall, achieving more precise drug delivery. By this, such therapeutics as anti-cancer drugs are ferried around the body in nanoscale carriers called vesicles, targeted to different tissues using biological markers. The new pore design is intended to improve that process.9 Other advances in regenerative medicine have come from research that shows that nanoneedles generate new blood vessels in mice.10

Research has also revealed that carbon-nanotube fibres make ideal implantable brain electrodes, which will benefit deep brain stimulation for neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and allow better brain–machine interfaces to neural circuits in the brain.11 Significantly, radio-frequency-heated nanoparticles have also been found to open the blood–brain barrier, so that therapeutic molecules can be delivered directly to the brain.12 An implantable micro device has also been developed which can detect which cancer drugs are most effective.13 Perhaps more significant than many of these disruptions has been the development by Chinese and US scientists of a 3-D printing method capable of producing embryoid bodies – highly uniform blocks of embryonic stem cells. These cells, which are capable of generating all cell types in the body, could be used to build tissue structures and potentially even micro-organs.14 All of these technologies would vastly extend our control of the life process, enabling both improved disease control and greater longevity.

These initiatives are being aided by three other developments. The first is the development of the world’s tiniest, most powerful nanoengine, which could lead to nanorobots so small that they could enter living cells to fight disease.15 The second is the creation of an automated method of mass-manufacturing nanoparticles that promises to transform the process from an expensive, painstaking, batch-by-batch process by a technician in a chemistry laboratory.16 The third is the development of a tool to rapidly test millions of different nanoparticles at one time to identify the best particle for a specific medical use.17

Nanotechnology promises to increase human control of the non-medical world. We now have the prospect of the engineering of metals and ceramic materials at the nanoscale with such resilience that they have the potential to transform the construction of a wide variety of manufacturing.18 Further, selective nanopores in graphene have been found to dramatically improve water desalination and purification by acting as sensors to detect mercury, potassium and fluoride in solution.19 This could increase our ability to survive in a world of constrained fresh water supplies. In the field of electronics, nanoelectric circuits that operate 10,000 times faster than current microprocessors have been designed and fabricated, offering the prospect of circuits that could be used to construct ultra-fast computers and open up new possibilities in nanoelectronic devices.20

These developments have emerged in parallel with other advances in materials technology. Researchers have developed a new glass material that could allow computers to transfer information via light, significantly increasing computer processing speeds and power in the future.21 Also, by zapping ordinary metals with laser pulses, researchers have created extraordinary new surfaces that efficiently absorb light, repel water and clean themselves for use in durable, low-maintenance solar collectors and sensors. This was done by recreating the eye patterns of common moths through the use of nanotechnology.22 It has also been found that an ultrathin black phosphorus film – only 20 layers of atoms – allows for high-speed data communication on nanoscale optical circuits. The devices showed vast improvement in efficiency over comparable devices using graphene.23 Other research has created a material made from nanofibres that can stretch to up to seven times its length while remaining tougher than Kevlar. These structures may have the capacity to form a material that reinforces itself at points of high stress and could potentially be used in military and other applications.24

Researchers have also created a 3D printer-compatible hydrogel that is mechanically tough but able to repeatedly change shape in response to water temperature. They have demonstrated the technology by 3D printing an autonomous water valve, but it could also be used to create soft robots, custom-designed sensors and self-assembling macrostructures. The aim of this so-called ‘4D printing’ is to extend additive manufacturing to the dimension of time.25  Further, scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed the ability to create dynamic nanomaterials, the structures and properties of which can be changed on-demand.26 Taken together, these technologies are extending our understanding of and control over the material world. They open up the possibility of manufacture by individuals rather than only by corporations.

Artificial Intelligence

Substantial innovations are also emerging in the allied fields of artificial intelligence and robotics. These innovations would not only extend human form and cognitive capacity, but also promote the proliferation of intelligence within and beyond the human biological form. Researchers from Tufts and Brown universities and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute argue that it is possible to develop ‘moral’ autonomous robots, with a sense of right and wrong and of the consequences of both.27 These researchers are teaming with the US Navy to explore technology that would pave the way for this. Robots are also being designed to respond to human cues in order to enhance human–robot interaction, for example by using human eye gaze as a nonverbal cue to make the handover of objects from robot to human more fluid.28

At the same time, the ability of robots to mirror human intelligence is also growing. For example, recently developed algorithms learn as fast as humans in such tasks as recognising hand-written characters;29 there is a capacity for computers to take the leap from processing words and symbols by reinventing the neural network and so to begin to be imaginative;30 and robots are becoming increasingly social, given the development of an algorithm that could give robots the ability to manoeuvre through spaces packed with unpredictable humans.31 In fact, development of machine learning algorithms, including pattern recognition, continues to blossom. Researchers have built a brain–machine interface that has allowed an amputee to control a prosthetic hand with his thoughts.32 Such interfaces have now also been further extended to allow brain-to-brain connection through the Internet.33 Other work has led to the creation of an artificial hand that responds sensitively owing to ‘muscles’ made from shape-memory wires: the wire is able to ‘remember’ its shape and to return to that original shape after it has been deformed. The new technology allows for the fabrication of flexible, lightweight robot hands for industrial applications and novel prosthetic devices.34 Further, in the field of computer vision it has been found that what used to take thousands of lines of code can now be achieved in 50 lines through the development of probabilistic programming. This has emerged from the most recent advances in artificial intelligence – such as mobile apps that convert speech to text – which are the result of machine learning in which computers are turned loose on big datasets to look for patterns. This is allowing researchers to mix and match machine-learning techniques that have worked well in other contexts.35 Researchers are also testing intelligent handheld robots or tools which ‘know what they are doing’ and can guide humans – that is teach them – in how to use them.36 Researchers are making robots more human by their detection of human emotions through the development of stretchable, ultrasensitive strain sensors that can detect facial expressions. This kind of detection is an advance on the usual method, that is, through vision sensors connected to a computer with facial-analysis algorithms. The disadvantage of the current method is that such systems are expensive and have low mobility and high complexity.37

In a Future a Little More Distant

Beyond these imminent technologies lies a range of research projects focusing on the development of even more powerfully transformative possibilities. For example, we have reached the point where we can design not only new forms of life but also radical new ways of constructing material reality. In the field of synthetic biology, the US National Research Council has stated

When conducting research in synthetic biology, one can ask different questions, such as ‘What genetic circuits are sufficient to generate a particular behaviour?’ and, ‘How can existing systems be re-wired to provide new functionality?’38

By building simplified biological circuits, systems, or protocells (known as the ‘bottom-up’ approach) while developing organisms with enhanced or novel functions (the ‘top-down’ approach), researchers are seeking to improve our capacity to both understand and engineer living systems.39

One hope of synthetic biologists, said Rob Carlson, Principal, Biodesic, is that by providing renewable materials through engineered cells, synthetic biology ‘may radically change the way we produce many materials in the future’.40

In the field of human longevity, a range of research projects aim to achieve radical life extension. Longevity could come from research projects in which removing senescent cells dramatically increases lifespan in mice,41 thereby leading to a means to do the same in humans. It could also come from the aspirations of Craig Venter’s Human Longevity project. By sequencing very large numbers of genomes and combining the data with that from sequenced metabolites, Ventner’s project aspires to accumulate knowledge in the emerging field of big data regarding the genetic features of such age-related disease as cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.42 More radically, the SENS organisation is working to engineer negligible senescence of human tissue and so to postpone age-associated disease for as long as the therapies are applied.43

However, some argue that the future lies not in enhancing our bodies’ ability to withstand degeneration, disease and death or even to extend our powers, but rather our ability to employ alternative modes of existence. For these researchers, the first step is to make our environment much more intelligent than it is. For example, if one accepts that Internet data content and search engines have the capacity to develop into modes of artificial intelligence,44 then the growth of enhanced interconnected objects (the Internet of Things) has far greater significance than otherwise. One can imagine a distributed intelligence controlling wearable devices, corporate activities, physical environments and public transport.45 Further, we can already see the significant impact, itself not without substantial controversy, of the exploration of Big Data sets and the mining of the significance that such assembled data holds for our management of the biological, material and social environments. Such will be a new kind of intelligence about these worlds.

More radically, it has been proposed that cyborgs can do more than simply capture human intelligence, but can be the means by which it can be enhanced by artificial intelligence,46 possibly through the capacities of quantum computing.47 This development has been given even greater significance by the recent revelation that, once designed and programmed, artificially intelligent robots will generate their own improvements in their following generations: robots will evolve through natural selection without ongoing human intervention.48 This in turn raises a range of issues regarding the future of our relationship with increasingly intelligent and increasingly compatible robots, with all that means for the psychology and sociology of that relationship.

IMPLICATIONS OF THESE EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

Advocates of all these technologies find it easy to point to the benefits from adopting them. The claims are that we can end the diseases and degeneration of the human body, that we can augment human intelligence, that we can improve the natural environment, that we can produce sufficient food and water of sufficiently high quality and that we can continue to grow and use information and knowledge. Most importantly, supporters argue that these new technologies will allow us to better understand, manipulate and transform ourselves and the world around us so that we can put an end to deep fears around sickness, death and helplessness as well as have a much more sympathetic environment. The promises of new technologies are tempting.

However, at the same time as their potential benefits are lauded, others warn of potential harms. As Justice Roberts of the US Supreme Court opined in June 2014, any person can capture ‘a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives – from the mundane to the intimate’. Yet it is not only privacy that is affected. New technologies are fundamentally altering how we see the relationship between intelligence and humanity. These developments are raising a whole series of important questions for each of us to consider.

Such questions are not new, since they have been asked by successive cultures as technologies have evolved throughout the history of the West from its inception. However, there is a special quality to the technologies emerging now, since they have the potential not only to allow us to manipulate the world in new ways but also to change the very fabric of the world. The point to be taken from the wide span of these developments is that we are seeing the emergence of an empowerment of the individual regarding personal longevity, greater physical and neural capacity and extended control over – even determination of – both the human and the material world. The argument here is that, impressive as these developments seem to be in themselves, we should see beyond them and recognise that what they truly signify is the emergence of a fully empowered individual subject.

All of this leads to some important, serious questions. Are the claims about curing disease, overcoming disability, ensuring supplies of food and water, having robots perform unpleasant tasks, enhancing our intelligence, even evading death, irresistibly attractive? Or are there risks in embracing all of this? Might these technologies change what it is to be human? Would that be a bad thing? Might they cause more harm than good, or not? What ethical framework can be used to begin to answer these kinds of questions?

While individual answers to these questions will vary, it turns out that there are some broad statements that can be made about how most people will answer such questions. In Chapter 4, we present our own findings on attitudes to emerging technologies, based on surveying the circumstances and conditions under which people would adopt a technological solution to a series of hypothetical opportunities or threats.

However, in this book, we go further than asking people to consider their own responses to technological possibilities. We instead locate such views within a broader historical trend in Western thinking. In particular, we argue that our individual responses to the significance of these technologies – in fact to technology itself – needs to be seen in the context of the human disposition to think mythologically in the face of deep feelings around both threats and desires (Chapters 2 and 3). Within this argument, our findings on personal attitudes to technology (Chapter 4) and political arguments around technology (Chapter 5) are offered as affirmations of the explanations and predictions we offer based on this broader historical trend. Our intention is that the broader argument presented here will lead readers to better understand their own beliefs and assumptions, their own fears and desires, around new technologies. More radically, our aim is to point to an alternative, non-mythological understanding of technology.

In order to do this, we need to first make a substantial, explanatory detour away from current and future developments in technology. This detour has two elements, one being its direction and the other its nature. Doing so will allow us to explain how technology has emerged in the particular way that it has and why it presents in the particularly problematic way that it does.

To understand this direction, we need to look at key epochal shifts in the history of the West, as we have moved progressively through various ways to try to resolve our deep existential concerns – from the early creation of an idea about the salvation available through faith in a single Deity, through to the protection offered by the State, then to the freedom and empowerment claimed for the Market and, finally, to the powerful solutions offered by modern Technology. Placed in that way, the argument here is that the appearance of Technology is merely the latest in this series of shifts – all of which share common elements and so are parts of what can be called a trajectory.

Understanding the nature of this trajectory means seeing each of these shifts as reflecting different aspects of a particular way that humanity has approached the resolution of its existential concerns, that is how we think and act mythologically. However, this sense of mythology is very different from our usual understanding of that idea. We shall therefore begin by introducing this different idea of mythology, then we shall begin to look at the two themes which explain how this idea is the motive force of the notion of the trajectory. The full exploration of the connection between these two themes will be the subject of the following chapter. Doing so will bring us back to a fresh understanding of the nature and impact of emerging technologies.

FOREGROUND AND BACKGROUND

Before proceeding on this detour, this last point needs to emphasised, as it is fundamental to the broad argument here. That is, the primary focus of this work is a better understanding of the significance of these emerging technologies. Technology is the foreground issue being examined here. However, as we argue, attitudes to technology cannot be properly understood except in the context of a modern notion of mythology and its long evolution through a series of historical epochs, especially from the emergence of the modern age in the seventeenth century. This evolution is the background issue being examined here. The two are inseparable but it might well be kept in mind that it is this dual layering of the broad argument that is the framework for what is being put about the nature of technology. In short, we are presenting a new theory relating to the history of ideas in the West, in the context of which we are also presenting a new understanding of emerging technologies.

MYTHOLOGY

We typically associate the idea of mythology with the allegories of the Classical world or, more generally, with the traditional narratives of any society which involve natural or fanciful beings, the activities of which are used as explanatory tools in their culture. However, there is another idea of myth, one that shadows how we live even today and the purpose of which is to deal with our persisting existential anxieties and desires. In other words, such mythology is the means through which we, particularly in the West, continue to deal with our inherent fears around threat, sickness and death and around the struggle for both our material needs and our other aspirations.

In order to understand this notion of myth, we will first introduce the work of the German philosopher, Hans Blumenberg, drawing on themes developed in two of his major works, Work on Myth and The Legitimacy of the Modern Age.49 Our understanding of these works is enhanced by the initial reworking of Blumenberg’s ideas undertaken by co-author David Grant in his book The Mythological State and its Empire, and then through their further and wider reconception by Grant in the present chapter and in Chapters 2 and 3. Although some of the terminology that follows may be unfamiliar, it has been employed here since it is continuous with those works, although it is given a more elaborate explanation here.

THE FIRST BACKGROUND THEME – THE CREATION OF MYTHOLOGICAL MAGNITUDES

The Nature of a Magnitude

In Work on Myth, Blumenberg develops the argument that humanity is, both throughout history and up to now, continuously disposed to imagining archetypal myths. Such continuous imagining is in response to the deep existential angst or anxiety which is produced by our awareness of the absolutism of reality, our belief that we lack control over the conditions of our existence. Or, in other words, what we require to live cannot be guaranteed. It is this belief that produces that deep anxiety. So we have always needed a way to deal with this most serious of problems and the solution, repeated in different forms throughout the history of the West, has been to imagine archetypal myths. These archetypal myths are described by Blumenberg as ‘mythological magnitudes’.50 We can see a prototype of such magnitudes in the stories of Greek and Roman gods – where fear of poor harvests, dangerous storms, war or disease were addressed through the imagining of Gods who were able to exercise control over these things. In some ways similar to the Classical gods, but with far greater status and capacities because they are intended to address concerns about our very existence, mythological magnitudes are envisaged by us as absolutely fearsome. Imagining these myths as absolutely fearsome is necessary to materialise the absolutism of reality so that, in doing so, we produce an entity which has the power to stand in for that anxiety but which we can engage, something we cannot do directly or easily with the deep anxiety itself. In other words, we create an imaginary surrogate that, through our considerable efforts to engage it, we aspire to control so that we can thereby eliminate the anxiety produced by the absolutism of reality.

Given this full fearsomeness, we begin the complex process of engagement by fully subjecting ourselves to the magnitude. This full subjection, necessary to acknowledge the full fearsomeness of the magnitude by converting its imagined power into real power, is an act that wins its initial sympathy but also allows us to employ a range of other tactics to ultimately deliver to us control over it. Doing so thereby creates the conditions of our ongoing existence.

We shall look at these other tactics below. However, it is not ironic that this full subjection at the same time affirms the full empowerment of the magnitude. So by this subjection, we are not only convinced we have the means of resolving our existential angst but we must also begin by abandoning our ability to make our own choices, transferring this to the magnitude whose full empowerment we have first created and then reinforced. This transfer is the forgoing of individual self-responsibility and tends towards a totalising effect for the individual, with a consequential powerful transformative effect.

The Making of a Magnitude

These are the primary characteristics of such magnitudes and the nature of our relationship with them. However, it is also important to appreciate the actual process by which such magnitudes come to be created. We shall now briefly outline the key elements that make up that method of creation but a more extensive exploration of this method will be provided in Chapter 2, where the emergence and nature of the mythology of Technology is explained.

The making of such magnitudes is not instantaneous. They are typically worked on over a long time, certainly intergenerationally. A mythological magnitude emerges slowly through a process that begins with naming it and then through progressively wider acceptance of such names and the stories that come to be told about it. These stories allow the substitution of our existential anxiety with our daily fears and begin to place existential anxiety at a distance: we can then be afraid of the magnitude because there is the chance to engage it to affirm its sympathy. As the magnitude gradually acquires social and cultural significance, that is as it increasingly assumes prominence as an explanatory and justificatory tool, we continue to refine our understanding of it through a Darwinism of words. That is, we increasingly discuss and debate its nature and significance. From this a coherent but always evolving vision emerges. So these myths and stories are created slowly, gaining cultural acceptance through constant retelling, testing and affirmation.

Because the magnitude is fearsome – archetypally so – we seek not only to gain its sympathy but also to subject it to procedural regulation and to other means of control and direction. It is an important element of how we all work on myths, following the initial act of imagination, that there is this continuing engagement of the magnitude through a variety of strategies and tactics. Typically, these involve seeking favour and absolute obedience in the form of wilful surrender.51 This engagement between the magnitude and those who are subject to it is conducted through dominant interests, which act more as agents than as intermediaries. These interests are those who advocate individual subjection to the magnitude, promoting the mythological solutions that it can offer to overcome existential anxiety. For example, for the Christian God the dominant interests have been its bishops. Equivalent advocates exist in the political leaders of the State, the corporate magnates of the Market and an emerging group of cognoscenti and corporate mandarins in the field of Technology.

Through these intermediaries or dominant interests, an informal but allegedly powerful covenant or contract is built by which the fearsomeness of the magnitude is supposed to be contained and its sympathy directed towards us. However, this is the beginning of a dilemma: it implies that the magnitude is no longer archetypally fearsome, even if it remains fearsome as it expresses such sympathy. That is, it is argued by its dominant interests that this conditional fearsomeness will be enough for the magnitude to deal with our fears and desires.

So we have a fearsome magnitude the very presence of which is enough to allow the resolution of existential anxiety and to which we must be both afraid and subject, but which we must engage or contract so that it will ensure increasingly sympathetic conditions for our existence. Historically, these are two phases in the life cycle of a magnitude, the ‘absolute’ or ‘archetypical’ phase where the magnitude is fully fearsome and then the ‘engaged’ or ‘contracted’ phase when we are able to exercise some level of control or influence over it. While Blumenberg does not distinguish this engagement as indicating the second of two phases in the life of a magnitude, this is important in understanding the reasons why myths often fade in importance over time.

That is, it is an important consequential issue to which Blumenberg gives only momentary attention that, in its ‘contracted’ phase, the magnitude is necessarily weakened. Although subject to it, our influence over it means it is no longer absolutely fearsome. While this provides reassurance that it will act according to our existential needs, it also undermines the very purpose of its creation: to be archetypally fearsome. The price of engagement is a weakening of the entity, which can therefore no longer keep existential anxiety at bay. Eventually, the myth begins to assume only a conditional significance – quite different from the archetypal significance that marked the first imagining necessary to materialise existential angst – and a new, more fearsome magnitude is sought. However, this weakening of the magnitude does not imply its disappearance – engaged magnitudes typically persist, with stories continuing to be told through the agency of its still ambitious dominant interests. Rather, this weakening becomes the motive for the repeated search for and creation of magnitudes, an important feature of the argument here but which Blumenberg does not consider.

Bringing these elements together, we can see that what comprises the mythological arrangement – its complex of mythological factors – are therefore a series of key notions. Foremost is the imagination of the fully fearsome magnitude to materialise existential fear or angst. This is followed by a particular method of its creation or elaboration, whereby this fearsomeness – once named – allows its dominant interests to claim that it can deal conclusively with our fears and desires: it becomes the form into which this angst is converted. So that this fearsomeness does not itself become oppressive, a complementary claim is made that this fearsomeness can be contained and transformed through a process of engagement and subjection by individuals. By this broad arrangement, which is managed by these dominant interests as its agents, the magnitude is transformed to become the creator of sympathetic conditions for those subject to it. It is this subjection, this foregoing of responsibility for oneself to the magnitude and its agents, which is intended not only to empower the magnitude but also to ensure the delivery of these conditions of existence. In fact, this foregoing tends to a totalising effect owing to the accompanying regime of practice to which individuals are subject. However, by this very engagement and entry into the world of its subjects, the magnitude is weakened, since it no longer has the absolute fearsomeness which was the justification for its creation. This is so despite the ongoing attempt by these dominant interests to perpetuate the belief that it retains the power to neutralise our existential angst and the derivative daily fears and desires. Despite these persistent assurances and modest satisfactions, confidence in the vitality of the magnitude slowly falls away and an unwillingness to accept ongoing subjection to the magnitude and its dominant interests grows. Finally the resulting re-emergence of existential concerns creates the need for the imagining of a replacement archetypal myth. So the repeating mythological cycle is created, a cycle that is the subtext of the history of the West.

Owing to the persisting awareness of the absolutism of reality across human history, this imagining and the work on it are therefore not merely an ancient but comprise a continuing disposition, including up until now. While mythological thinking is relatively easy to see in the case of Classical myths, in this book we will explain how more powerful conceptions are evident in the justifications that have been offered in the West for more modern and more potent magnitudes – Deity, State, Market and now Technology.

Returning to the question with which we began, the appropriate course is neither to be fearful of Technology nor to unconditionally embrace it. Either position is potentially mythological as is viewing Technology as a means to resolve our problems or as a source of fear itself or as a privileged means of satisfying our deepest desires. Instead, we need to recognise that both dystopian and utopian thinking are two sides of the same ultimately mythological way of thinking and acting. The path forward lies in using this recognition to rethink how we imagine Technology and how we respond to it and to its implications.

THE SECOND BACKGROUND THEME – THE LEGITIMACY OF MODERNITY

In The Legitimacy of the Modern Age, Blumenberg argues that modernity is not merely secularised Christian thought but is legitimate in itself. That is, it is founded on justifications of its own rather than on those borrowed from the Christian rationale.52 His argument was made in response to the arguments of Karl Lowith in Meaning in History – The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History, where Lowith argued that modernity was essentially secularised Christianity and so not legitimate in itself.

In making his argument, Blumenberg focuses on the emergence of the human attribute of self-assertion at the end of the Middle Ages. He argues that this self-assertion revealed a preparedness to forgo the Christian belief that the universe was originally created for man’s benefit, looking instead to the use of reason as a means through which mankind can master and alter reality.53 The difference – and what constitutes the legitimacy of modernity for Blumenberg – is therefore that, instead of a Deity creating the world for the benefit of mankind, mankind’s self-assertive rationality is what makes the world for man.

The context of Blumenberg’s argument is that, at the end of the Middle Ages, there were serious questions that Christianity had attempted unsuccessfully to address, such as whether God’s absolutism meant that His intentions were impenetrable to man. These questions came to be seen as crucial to the boundary between Christianity and modernity, whereby we can see the emergence of a new epoch.54 Blumenberg’s argument is that the answers to these questions – answers which were the result of modern self-assertion and not Christian thought – were established in terms that were a ‘mirror image’ of Christian notions. That is, they were informed by the Christian question but did not draw on Christian answers, instead stepping back and taking a different direction. A key example, of direct relevance here, is the notion of absolutism. The response to the question of the absolutism of Deity was not an answer about God’s power but the imagining of modern political absolutism, in particular in the form of Hobbes’s perception of the State as Leviathan.55 So the response to an old problem became a starting point for the modern era.

In making this point about the difference between theological absolutism and the political absolutism which helped to mark the emergence of modernity, Blumenberg distinguishes between the secularised notion of the State proposed by Carl Schmitt as comprising sovereignty, raison d’état and will and his own notion of the State in terms of contract, consent, liberty and law. His purpose is to show that, if there was to have been a direct inducement from theological absolutism, then it would have been in Schmitt’s terms, when in fact the characteristics he sees, very different from such absolutism, are closer to the individualism that reflects self-assertion, that is contract, consent, liberty and law. The position taken in the present work, against Blumenberg, is that both have been in evidence: both absolutism of the State and notional contracts with the State were evident and simply reflect the two stages in the development of the political magnitude. The initial absolutism of the myth becomes engaged as it is brought under control, ‘contracted’ in the terms here, to eliminate its fearsomeness. In short, it is the reworking of Blumenberg’s central ideas that provides the solution to the conundrum.

The Background Themes are Connected

This raises the question of the relationship between these first and second background themes more generally. Although it is not Blumenberg’s position, the first and second themes introduced here from his two works should be seen as inextricably related. In particular, this means that the emergence of self-assertion in the West, which pointed to the arrival of modernity as a new epoch, should be seen as the means by which each new myth is imagined and worked on.56 Drawing a relationship between these two themes was the topic of Grant’s earlier book: the emergence of self-assertion forms part of the search for a new myth to replace the failed myth of Deity. This is how the transition from theological to the political absolutism of the Leviathan is best understood,57 that is, the myth of Deity was replaced by the myth of the State. This transition will be explored more fully in Chapter 2. That exploration will be through a further, wider reconception of Blumenberg’s work by Grant, wherein this first transition from Deity to State is an exemplar of a series of further transitions. This is a substantial reworking of Blumenberg’s work, often against his principal arguments. In particular, it will be argued that the State, itself a successor to the myth of Deity, ultimately succumbed to the myth of the Market, which appears to be leading, from the end of the twentieth century, to Technology as the key to the latest mythological framework. As Chapter 2 will explain, what results is a trajectory of archetypical magnitudes, each fully empowered before declining through engagement – but nevertheless persisting in a contracted form. These persisting myths then compete and cooperate with successive myths through their dominant interests as a ‘mythological field’.

We will therefore see that the West has attempted, first, a theological solution (Deity) to its existential concerns, then, in turn, a political (State) and an economic (Market) solution, and now a Technological solution. In fact, the first three of these are those referred to at the opening of this chapter as the three opportunities that were presented to the West by which the existential challenges of its citizens could be addressed. However, each has since failed to achieve its initial promise and survives only as a cultural burden in a ‘contracted’ condition. So these three lost opportunities comprise the first three steps in the trajectory of the West.

The deeper significance of these transitions is that, against Blumenberg, modernity is not legitimate in his sense. Rather, it comprises repeated mythological initiatives. This is not for the reasons of secularisation given by Lowith or Schmitt. Rather, this illegitimacy rests at this conceptual level of a series of imagined but failed archetypal magnitudes and also at the level of the practices of the individual, whose forgoing of self-responsibility is the basis of the empowerment of each myth. Such an arrangement for empowerment is by its nature illegitimate in Blumenberg’s sense. In short, the form that self-assertion itself has taken is embedded in mythological thinking and practice.

A FURTHER STEP: THE ABSOLUTE SUBJECT

There are clear further implications from what we have seen so far. First, each of the first three myths along the trajectory – Deity, State and Market – can be seen as an external ‘Other’. That is, something beyond our individual selves, but decreasingly so as the individual self progressively takes a more central role, that is from Deity to State and then to Market. Further, as each myth shifts from Archetypal to Contracted, it loses its status as absolute Other by being actively engaged for the claimed benefit of individuals so long as they are subject to its ideas and practices. In the process, each myth has ultimately failed to deliver on the claim to deal with our existential concerns. However, our disposition to mythologise continues in the form of the imagining of a new myth. Ultimately – by the time we have reached the failure of the Market – the stalemate has become increasingly unfulfilling.

The possibility therefore arises of a new – and a new type of – mythology. Rather than imagining a fearsome Other, even in the context of an increasingly central role for the individual as we move through the trajectory, we may instead be beginning to imagine a reconceived version of ourselves, the individual self as Absolute Subject. It is this that the mythological features of Technology may now be seen to be serving, and to which it has been moving. Seen in this way, Technology has been emerging with the characteristics by which a new magnitude is being constructed, to be fully realised in the establishment of the Absolute Subject as myth by technological means. That is, we are gradually technologically remaking ourselves to be fully empowered, able as individuals to deal with our own existential fears and desires through technological means. This is how the examples from genomics, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence that were presented early in this chapter can properly be seen. This Absolute Subject is the polar opposite of the Absolute magnitude of the Other as Deity but allows the same existential claims and would be fully within the capacity of the individual. Its path to the position of next dominant myth of the trajectory has been enabled by the demise of the archetypal – but still highly persistent – Market.

There have, historically, been attempts to imagine such an Absolute Subject. We can see this in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century myths of German Idealism, triggered by the attempt to deal with the ultimate doubt produced by Descartes’s epistemological demon – of what can I be certain if I am comprehensively deceived by such a demon? – and represented by such attempts as those by Kant, Fichte and Schelling to thereby create the final myth.58 We shall explore this notion further in Chapters 2 and 3 but it can be said here that this earlier attempt was a failure. However, a similar phenomenon is evident in some imaginings of the end-point of Technology, the ultimate mythological potential of which is set in claims regarding the prospects of individual immortality, unlimited cognitive capacity and the scientific knowledge to allow individual control of the material world down to the subatomic level. This would be part of a mythological trajectory broader than what we have considered to this point. It would now extend from the Absolute Deity through Absolute State and Absolute Market, each followed by its contracted form, down to the Absolute Subject, the condition of which would be provided by the claims attached to emerging technologies. Technology would be the means to create the Absolute Subject.

In short, we stand in the wake of attempts to create a candidate to fill the mythological space – occupied in turn so far by Deity, State and Market – but each has failed to deal with existential fear and desire, and we are thereby in the midst of, yet still subject to, the field of contracted entities that have been left behind by that recurring failure. Now Technology may be emerging amid claims that it can shape the Absolute Subject. This would indicate that the mythological trajectory is a transition from a myth in which the universe is created for man by Deity, through intermediary myths of State and Market by which mankind is claimed to have increasing control over its existence, to one in which technology fully empowers the individual to create herself and her world but in that she remains fully subject to the technological regime. It might be seen that the latter is also thereby the assumption of responsibility for the universe through the claimed fearsome powers devolved by Technology to such an individual.

Because this process is still in train, this book operates as both an interpretation of history and predictive of our reactions to current and future developments. It begins by explaining how key historical transitions expose a mythological dynamic. As we moved from the primacy of Deity to the primacy of the State, to the primacy of the Market, we have merely shifted between mythological magnitudes. Each of these operated as an Absolute Other until it failed and was contracted – thereby embedding mythology in our practices – to justify the claim that it would provide us with sympathetic conditions of existence. With the failure of each of these as archetypal ideas, there are early signs that the vacant absolute mythological space is beginning to be occupied by the features of an Absolute Subject, to be realised through emerging Technology. This would also be consistent with the long trend in which the historical magnitudes can be seen to have been created with the claim that they have been progressively and increasingly under the control of the individual: Deity minimally so, owing to the failed aspirations of the Catholic hierarchy regarding indulgences; the State more so, through democratic participation; and the Market increasingly so, through its claimed individuality set in a world of contract, competition and consumerism. In this context, it would be consistent to see evidence for an emerging idea of and claims for Technology, and its associated technologies and practices, as mythological.

NON-MYTHOLOGICAL ARRANGEMENTS

Before proceeding to outline the argument for the existence of the mythological trajectory, it will be helpful to make some comment about what non-mythological arrangements might look like. The crucial measure of the mythological template is that we forego our self-responsibility to the authority of an imagined, fully empowered entity and the institutional arrangements and practices by which it subsists. The basis of a non-mythological arrangement is therefore the forgoing of subjection and the acceptance of self-responsibility. The key feature of self-responsibility is that the individual is responsible to and for herself and so not responsible to or for any other capable individual. Reciprocally, no other individual would be responsible to or for her and she would deal with her existential fear and desire in a manner respectful of others: for such an arrangement to be sustainable, the acceptance of self-responsibility must include honouring the self-responsibility of others. Such is respectful self-responsibility. A personal code of this kind would require a sustaining legislative framework and social institutions and practices that reaffirm that code. Without being too prescriptive, we shall be looking further at the principles for such a framework in Chapter 7.

Non-mythological arrangements would therefore require that there is no forgoing of self-responsibility to any magnitude, whether spiritual, political, economic or created through technology. No claims of these magnitudes regarding the elimination of existential concerns would, should they be conditioned on such subjection, be seen as justified. This would deny the mythological ideas of the dominant interests of the respective magnitudes and their associated regimes of practice. This would involve not only ceasing to think mythologically, but also ceasing to live mythologically, that is, releasing oneself from embedded mythological practice. We would have to change our individual and shared material institutions and practices. Enabling the emergence of respectful self-responsibility would require an agonistic culture, transparency regarding the operation of these modes of thought and practice and optimised respectful individual self-assertion, the latter being a heavily ironic return to Blumenberg.

This attitude would need to operate in our engagement with spiritual, political, commercial and technological domains. None of this is a denial, only the reconfiguration, of the validity of these domains. In other words, spiritual, political, commercial and technological domains would continue, but those participating in such domains would take responsibility for their own acts and practices. There would be no more arguments that the domain itself required our subjection. To take the example of technology, taking responsibility would mean both that individuals select which technological tools to employ and that the tools we embed in social practice do not take responsibility away from individuals.

The challenge of moving beyond mythological thinking cannot be over-estimated. It is likely that those supporting particular magnitudes would argue that abandoning it is something we should fear, that it may cost us our lives or the material conditions for life. Nevertheless, we believe it is important to understand how these arguments operate, what they have in common and what the implications of them are.

GOALS OF THE BOOK

There are various reasons why all of these arguments matter. The first is that exploring them will reveal a particular dynamic or complex of factors which has been at work at each transition between the epochs that make up the trajectory of which we have been speaking. That is, this complex was present as we moved first to and then from Deity to the State, then again to the Market, as we adopted new, dominant forms of thought and practice.

Second, tracing the recurrence of this complex will show that it is mythological in nature and therefore that its recurrence cannot be separated from our deepest, persistent existential concerns. That is, the move through these dominant forms has really been a series of historical attempts to provide theological, political then economic answers to these existential concerns.

Third, this will show that this complex has repeatedly failed to deal with those concerns but that its effects have been not only cumulative but also deeply constructive or formative. In fact, what these serial mythological failures – each of which triggers the continuing recurrence of this complex – show is a structural flaw in the way the West has responded to these existential fears and desires.

Finally, such an exploration strongly suggests that this pattern of failure may be being extended, and with possibly profound consequences, to the field of Technology and its implications for the nature of individual agency.

To understand our attitudes towards Technology – the foreground – we need first to understand this broad history – the background. This is because the roots of our attitudes towards the emergence of Technology – and the myth of the Absolute Subject it is beginning to shape – are embedded in that history. If these arguments are valid, then they can form the basis of a valuable interpretive tool to help understand not only the key constructive transitions that have taken place within the body of Western thought and practice, but now also how we might better understand emerging Technology.

None of this is an argument that we should not pursue technological development, just as it is not an argument that we should not pursue respectful notions of spirituality or arrangements of government or of commerce, only that we should be aware of the dangers of making a mythology from any of these. In other words, the discussion here does not answer direct questions about the existence of God, the benefits of an international system based on governance of nation states, the economic benefits of a free market or the practical advantages of particular technologies. It is a critique of a mode of thinking about Deity, State, Market and Technology and the tendency to see these as ends in themselves to which individuals must be subjected. It does however provide some markers for how we might come to think and act non-mythologically.

The goals of the book are ultimately to establish several key implications of these arguments. The first is that the social institutions of religion, politics and economics, which so heavily impact our lives – and in which we invest varying levels of trust to deal with our fears and desires – are the means by which the three long-established magnitudes take form. The consequence is that these myths are embedded in our daily practice. That is, they are far from being merely an idea to which we refer when we are troubled by existential threats. It is our continuous investment in them, the forgoing of self-responsibility to them in our daily behaviour, that gives them their authority. This is not to say that such forgoing is as complete now as when each had an archetypal status – Deity during the Middle Ages, the State during the reign of the absolute monarchs or in their totalitarian form, the Market of the late twentieth century prior to the Global Financial Crisis – as they are now in differentially contracted forms. However, it is to say that practices that reflect that forgoing persist despite that contracting.

The second point is that this trajectory is now being extended to include a fourth form. This is the form of the Absolute Subject, being made available by Technology, with its characteristics of an emerging magnitude. For reasons that shall become clear, the term Technology is used here to reflect the socially dominant position that such practices and devices have been assuming from the mid to late twentieth century. In doing so, we intend to distinguish it – but not disengage it – from the wide range of technological practices and devices that have proliferated before that time. The reason for the focus on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is that, in earlier eras, technological practices did not attain the level of dominance over ideas and practices that are currently being imagined. In fact it may properly be argued that the emerging technologies are a quantum leap from precedent technologies because of their capacity to change the very nature of life and matter and in ways we cannot predict. It would also be such a leap because of the wider and deeper impact that such technologies would have on individual practices. We would live profoundly more mythological lives – and even more illegitimately – than we already do.59

The third point is that mythological thinking has been deeply problematic throughout the history of the West, at two levels. First, as we have seen, the very contracting of the magnitude to have it adopt a sympathetic attitude towards humanity is self-defeating, as it eliminates the very absolute fearsomeness that was the cause of its initial imagining, that is, to represent and materialise the absolutism of reality. Second, the attitude of individual subjection that empowers the magnitude – even in its contracted form – means that the quality of the sympathy it dispenses will always be severely constrained, especially when the inherent advantages available to dominant interests are accounted for. We shall see in the following chapter that the latter circumstance has been apparent in relation to the activities of such interests in each of the mythological epochs preceding the myth of the Absolute Subject. The hand of dominant interests can be seen in the creation as well as in the failure of the archetypal magnitudes, but the practices that were consequentially embedded in individuals linger on.

The cumulative effect of these three points is that, to the considerable extent that we in the West have – and continue to – embrace these accumulated, dominant forms of thought and to the extent that the associated practices are embedded in us, we live mythologically – and to do so is to live illegitimately.

PLAN OF THE BOOK

The book comprises seven chapters. Of these, Chapter 2 is the most important. In it, the argument that the West is best seen as comprising a trajectory of dominant myths – Deity, State, Market and the Absolute Subject through Technology – is presented. In particular, how the archetypal form of each imagined myth ultimately failed as a means of resolving existential anxieties and came to be replaced by its successor myth is explained. This is part of a wider reconception by Grant of the mythological complex, developed beyond his earlier revision of the work on Blumenberg.60

Given the intimate relationship between technology and science, Chapter 3 addresses the role played by science in this history. It is an application by Grant of his wider reconception of Blumenberg to the field of science, whereby that discipline is seen as subject to each of the serial myths of the trajectory. The argument is that, for each of the mythological magnitudes (Deity, State, Market, Absolute Subject through Technology), its dominant interests have both subjected and exploited science to affirm the validity of the myth. This is not a claim that material scientific practice is only mythological – neither is it a claim that scientific practice is not mythological – only that science has in relation to each myth experienced subjection for that purpose.

Chapters 4 and 5 present empirical findings that support the conclusions drawn from our examination of history in Chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 4 sets out the findings of a new study of individual attitudes towards emerging technologies, revealing the significant extent to which people are willing to forgo responsibility for themselves in order to employ particular technologies that are claimed will deal with their personal existential fears and desires. Chapter 5 returns to the landmark debates in the Australian parliament between June and August 2000 concerning the use and regulation of agricultural gene technologies. It explores how politicians from the dominant political parties employed notions of Deity, State, Market and Technology in that debate as if they were entities or regimes to which we must subject ourselves rather than whether specific technologies should be evaluated on their merits. This would include assessment of whether particular policies would withdraw responsibility from individuals, effectively preventing them from making decisions for themselves. We find that most politicians do speak of these as abstract entities with the capacity to deal conclusively with both fear and sympathetic conditions of existence, and urge the promotion of particular mythological magnitudes and individual subjection thereto in relation to genetically modified foods. That is, this chapter reveals how the manufacture of this legislation on gene technology was saturated in mythological thinking. These findings, presented in Chapters 4 and 5, are published here for the first time.

In Chapter 6 we address the role of law and regulation in perpetuating mythological thinking. First, the argument that legislation can be significantly subject to mythological thinking is extended into a consideration of the extent to which law – as it was with science – has been made subject to myth within each of the epochs of the trajectory. Second, that law demonstrates its mythological nature in regard to technology specifically when its function is seen as primarily to constrain, that is to regulate, technology. Regulation is, as we saw, a central means of sustaining the magnitude by directing its power in sympathy for man, in this case by promoting the idea that technology can ultimately be the grounds for the Absolute Subject. If it were non-mythological, law would promote technology only in the context of reinforcing respectful self-responsibility, that is where it affirmed respectful individual decision-making regarding the value of particular technologies.

We draw our conclusions together in Chapter 7. Among a range of observations, we provide a preliminary, indicative articulation of a different way of approaching the practicalities of dealing with the range of myths, especially including emerging technology and its governance.

The book is intended to be read in the order in which it is written. However, the principal messages from the two empirical chapters (Chapters 4 and 5) can, for those less interested in a fine-grained discussion of our methodology and results, be absorbed by reading the initial sections of those chapters. Chapters 6 and 7 are the most practically relevant for those involved in policy-making around new and emerging technologies. Whichever way the book is read, however, it will be helpful if the important ‘foreground-background’ issue is kept in front of mind. For that, Chapters 2 and 3 – which are the elaboration of the broad theoretical framework introduced in this first chapter – are of central importance.

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39 Ibid., 13.

40 Ibid., 13.

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49 Hans Blumenberg, Work on Myth (MIT Press 1985); Hans Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age (MIT Press 1985). See also David Grant, The Mythological State and Its Empire (Routledge 2008) 13–14.

50 Blumenberg, Work on Myth (n 49) 3–33, 113–144.

51 Other techniques include, for example, reverence, provocation, forcing commitment, malicious cunning, good conduct, efforts to obtain favour, compensatory actions and exchange of gestures. See Blumenberg, Work on Myth (n 49) 16, 20, 22.

52 This is argument Blumenberg puts against Karl Lowith in The Legitimacy of the Modern Age (n 49) 3–11, 63–75.

53 Ibid., 137–138.

54 For example, the crisis of Scholasticism caused by the failure of Aristotelianism to deal with key theological questions contributed to the emergence of the Reformation but, ultimately, to the absolute State, as we shall see. Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age (n 49) 64–67.

55 Blumenberg, The Legitimacy of the Modern Age (n 49) 90.

56 Grant, The Mythological State and Its Empire (n 49) 13–14.

57 For Blumenberg, the connection is the result of the consistent use of the language of absolutism and the creation of a mirror-image of theological absolutism to allow the new absolute State to resolve the turmoil created by the conflict between nation States in the mid seventeenth century. See Legitimacy of the Modern Age (n 49) 80–90. Further, he sees Hobbes as dealing rationally with the ‘internal contradiction of the state of nature’ through the ‘artificiality’ of the created State. See Work on Myth (n 49) 373–374.

58 Blumenberg, Work on Myth (n 49) 267–269.

59 This argument that modernity is best seen as a trajectory of failed but persistent archetypal ideas of Deity, State, Market and potentially Technology, and which camouflages a parallel trajectory of subjecting practices, has been developed by Grant as an extension of the principal arguments in The Mythological State and Its Empire (n 49) and is elaborated in this and the following chapter.

60 Grant, The Mythological State and Its Empire (n 49).