Homo technologicus and the Recovery of a Universal Ethic: Maximus the Confessor and Romano Guardini
Keywordstechnological human, techne, theological anthropology, Laudato Sì, natural law
On September 1st2017, Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew issued a Joint Message for the World Day of Prayer for Creation. The gesture reveals the church’s efforts “to breathe with two lungs” on the urgent matter of climate change and ecological sustainability. But, the church leaders have also insisted on a philosophical and religious reflection on technology if humanity is to take responsibility for the environment. In particular, they have sought to correct the wrong interpretation of the biblical imperative to “have dominion over” (Gen 1:26) the creatures of the Earth and to “subdue it” (Gen 1:28) that for centuries has condoned ecological abuse, in particular in the name of technological progress.
In this paper, I propose a theological reflection on Homo technologicusthrough the writings of the seventh century monk Maximus the Confessor and the twentieth century Catholic priest Romano Guardini. Maximus offers a systematic account of human techneas reflecting the mark of sin, while being God’s gift to assist us in stewarding creation. Guardini offers a challenging argument for the moral nature of technology in our times. In an age where technology extends human power, even as it seemingly takes on a life of its own, Maximus’ and Guardini’s insights on the “technological human” offer a renewed Christian anthropology that, in the tradition of natural law reasoning, can ground a global ethic for a “sustainable and integral development.” (Joint Message, 2017)
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