Lately I was invited to ship a chat at my alma mater, National Institute of Engineering (NIE), Mysuru to a gaggle of students and school from the Department of Pc Science on the theme of know-how.
Having a civil engineering background with much of my analysis being in humanities, I felt I had no insight to share on know-how as such and therefore, was apprehensive about it. However then, I noticed I might maybe share some thoughts on the human aspect. In any case, it is the people who on the one hand are the drivers of technological advancement and then again, are also the shoppers of the fruits of such development. That’s, Humans are both the producers and shoppers of know-how. An area, which I feel has been very much less explored, especially from an Indic lens.
With these ideas, I selected the subject: “Know-how & Ethics: Negotiating with Modernity” and want to elaborate on the same on this article.
What is know-how?
Know-how in its most elementary sense simply means “the appliance of scientific information to the practical aims of human life.” It comes from the Greek ‘techne’ which suggests art, talent, or a craft. As such, it represents the tools, methods, and the means via which individuals accomplish their tasks of their day-to-day life. Briefly, it defines the comfort and quality of our life at a purely bodily or materialistic degree. Any technological advancement, subsequently, could have a big influence on human life: how we stay, what we do, the culture and social values are all impacted. The truth is, technological advancements are more likely to trigger vital disruptions in how society features.
Think about this, earlier than the invention and worldwide spread of Radio and Tv, the primary avenue for entertainment have been watching plays, music, dance or story-telling performances carried out by educated professionals on the stage. Ramayana and Mahabharata have been two extremely widespread texts in India, which have been performed as a play, set to chic music, was a dance efficiency, or informed and re-told as stories for hundreds of years across the country. There were particular communities of artistes in each village, every metropolis, who made such performances not only a way of their livelihood, but in addition as a religious sadhana. However, with the arrival and spread of Radio and Television, and now the web, the artwork types and the artistes related to these art types are both slowly vanishing, or are pressured to innovate and reinvent themselves to outlive within the modified social state of affairs. This modification, this disruption was introduced by as simple an instrument as tv.
Then, there are even more critical disruptions that the economic revolution and the next march of know-how has introduced in to how the society features. While there are undoubtedly constructive impacts of such disruptions, we are additionally left with sure previously non-existing problems to cope with. Take the instance of unemployment. Whereas we’re all conscious of technological unemployment i.e. the lack of jobs brought on by technological change, what we don’t typically understand is that in Classical India, for example, the issue of unemployment, or at the very least how we perceive it at the moment was kind of non-existent. This was as a result of the society was organized into numerous jatis, kulas, and trade-guilds, every of which had their very own skill-set and professions. Individuals have been born right into a career hence, there was no query of unemployment or the associated host of issues that we face within the trendy world. In fact, this does not imply individuals did not have a selection relating to selecting professions. They did, however with some restrictions based mostly on learning, skill-set, and group put in place.
The difficulty here is just not whether or not historic India was better than trendy India, or whether or not know-how is sweet or dangerous. The point to notice right here is, every technological innovation brings with it a set of latest challenges at numerous levels- individual, social, moral, psychological, ecological- that needs to be completely addressed in order to ensure a clean functioning of the society and a wholesome and harmonious life of its individuals.
Ethical Challenges brought in by the march of know-how
A couple of months back it was reported that 5 lakh Indians use the French extra-marital courting app Gleeden with 30% of them being ladies. Key phrase to note here is ‘extra-marital’. It’s a courting app specifically concentrating on married individuals, particularly married ladies (Gleeden claims itself to be made by ladies for ladies) facilitating them to cheat on their spouses. And the predominant purpose offered by the customers for utilizing the app was an sad marriage.
Adultery has all the time been seemed down upon in virtually all the cultures and societies the world over, because it not solely includes cheating the spouses who love you and belief you (whether or not they comprehend it or not), however typically additionally leads to the breakdown of family and a number of other points that come with it. Add to it the difficulty of sad marriage and how people deal with it.
Adultery, thus, poses critical ethical challenges, not only at an individual degree, but in addition at the degree of family and society as an entire. By offering ease of entry to commit adultery, the development of know-how within the type of social media platforms and cellular apps has only additional difficult our lives and increased manifold the moral challenges that include adultery. As the news report notes, the decriminalization of adultery laws has resulted in the improve of customers of this adultery app, thus furthering the establishment of adultery as a socially acceptable norm.
If adultery turns into a socially acceptable norm, what would occur to the institute of marriage? What would occur to the notion of love and belief between two individuals? What can be the status of youngsters? How would they be offered a protected and healthy surroundings to grow up? What can be the psychological effect of adulterous actions on the couples and the youngsters? These and lots of more such moral questions have to be addressed by us as people and as a collective society.
A associated problem is the production and use of pornography. Know-how has made it potential that one can receive pornographic materials in abundance in textual content, audio, video, or even live-streaming. While the talk relating to whether it has damaging affect is way from over, the large prevalence and consumption of it betray a deeper situation: that of sexual repression in society. Sadly, the fashionable world doesn’t seem to have any means to both cope with sexual repression or with unrestrained sexual gratification. In reality, the latter seems to have been the fashionable West’s response to centuries of sexual repression brought on by the Christian Church.
Take another example: development within the area of genetics. Without going to the well-known points like cloning, allow us to confine ourselves to a quick discussion on medical genetics that considerations itself with analysis and administration of hereditary issues. One of the essential points of medical genetics is genetic counselling. Genetic counsellors prescribe diagnostics exams and provide counselling relating to genetic circumstances, risks that run in family, and so on.
In a current dialog with Dr. Anuradha Udumudi, who runs GeneTech that pioneers in medical genetics providers in India, she shared how genetic counsellors are sometimes confronted with ethical dilemmas when giving recommendation to, say expectant mother and father. She famous what number of expectant mother and father with both a primary baby having a critical genetic disorder or a history of some genetic issues that run in the prolonged family, anxiously seek advice whether or not their present being pregnant will result in another genetically handicapped baby. And if there’s such a chance, what ought to be the plan of action for the mother and father: whether they should go forward with child-birth or whether they need to go for abortion.
Now, Abortion in itself is a large ethical challenge with a fierce debate raging within the West between pro-choice abortion advocates and pro-life anti-abortion advocates. While each side have their very own merits and demerits, their positions are so excessive and at occasions dogmatic that there isn’t a clear comprehensive and harmonious means forward. Further, while abortion itself has been prevalent throughout history, the technological advances have made it simply accessible, be it in the type of legal abortion or within the type of mushrooming illegal abortion clinics. Additionally, it is the technological developments that gave rise to the whole concern of female infanticide in India, which is one other ethically problematic situation that has was a social menace.
Further, the emotional and moral issues in medical genetics will not be restricted to the problems about on-going being pregnant. There are additionally critical ethical issues relating to fertility (Ex. Looking for donor gamete to keep away from critical genetic problems in youngsters), and marriage (Ex. should one marry right into a household having a historical past of a genetic disorder, or should one marry one’s cousins) as properly. Some of these moral challenges have been simply unimaginable even a number of hundred years in the past. With the advancement of genetics, whereas we clearly have loads of merits and benefits, we even have newer ethical challenges. Thus, making the position of genetic counsellors very crucial and one that’s endowed with big ethical duty.
In a current blog, Dr. Pingali Gopal notes the ethical challenges that the development in medical genetics has brought in and the way our current response to it has led to an moral quandary. Illustrating this with the instance of how we’re negotiating with Down syndrome, he writes:
“This is disturbing certainly as infants being born with Down Syndrome are steadily reducing in quantity. All the antenatal screening methods including blood checks on the pregnant mother, ultrasound scans, and genetic analysis on the fetal tissues is targeted world-wide to detect Down Syndrome after which terminate them. One writer places it succinctly as a ‘search-and-destroy’ know-how….After a analysis of Down Syndrome, the counselling by the medical fraternity, as an alternative of giving the choices to the household, is heavily biased in the direction of terminating the being pregnant. Most families adjust to this. It isn’t any dangerous intention on the part of the medical career, but simply the ethical, moral fear of continuous a pregnancy which is going to deliver an ‘abnormal’ baby. So right here comes the good ethical quandary and paradox-on the one hand, we try to integrate Down Syndrome inhabitants into the society by calling them equal; but on the opposite, we’re doing the absolute best to stop them from being born….The moral justification in aborting a Down Syndrome child (or some other malformation) because it will be a burden on the family is disturbingly ambiguous; as a result of the same logic can apply to a feminine youngster causing an amazing disturbance to the social life of some mothers….It is a troublesome state of affairs for society, families with a Down Syndrome analysis on the foetus, medical professionals, and governmental machinery interacting in lots of discordant voices. The ethical, ethical, legal, medical, and social dimensions in fixing these paradoxes want a extra detailed and nuanced discussion. Down’s syndrome is one prototypical example, in fact. The ethical issues and points are going to only improve sooner or later as extra illnesses enter the domain of pre-delivery analysis.”
Now, let’s contemplate the difficulty of ecological crisis. The destruction of ecology with the advance of know-how is so widespread and well known that nothing more truly must be added. It’s maybe the most important menace that our future generations can be dealing with and yet, we proceed to pursue a life-style that furthers this crisis.
The basis of such apathy in the direction of social and ecological disaster arising out of technological advancement lies in the fact that with the march of know-how, there has been a lack of ethics and values within the society. Modernity with its materialistic and consumerist outlook and misleading notions of improvement has posited itself as progressive and forward-looking, with know-how itself being posited as the one-stop answer to all ills.
How Indic Conceptual Frameworks may also help negotiate with the challenges of the fashionable world
We need to ask ourselves, do we actually have instruments to conceptually cope up with challenges of the fashionable world? Do we have now frameworks to deal with the ethical challenges arising out of the march of know-how? Are we even proud of our current life? If not, what’s the means forward?
It’s right here that the traditional Indian civilization could make an outstanding contribution. It could possibly present us a worldview that can strategy society and its challenges in a holistic and healthful method; it could present us conceptual frameworks utilizing which the challenges arising at the particular person, social, ecological, and cosmic degree could possibly be examined and options devised; it will possibly present a rich tradition of steerage within the type of Dharmashastra tradition for facilitating humans- the producers and shoppers of technology- to deal with know-how with ethical duty.
The Hindu framework of Chaturvidha Purushartha– that posits Dharma (ethical duty), Artha (material prosperity), Kama (aesthetic fulfilment) and Moksha (religious emancipation) as the four-fold objectives of life might help us move away from material pursuit centric consumerism that predominates the fashionable world. The Vedantic understanding of human being as made up of five sheaths of individuality termed Panchakosha –with Annamayakosha representing the physical sheath, Pranamayakosha representing the sheath of the life-forces, Manomayakosha representing the mind, Vigyanamayakosha representing the deeper intellect, and the Anandamayakosha representing the chic sheath of Ananda or bliss—might help us to move away from body-centric worldview to a extra comprehensive understanding of the person. The Pauranic framework of cosmology and its positing of human beings as just one among the many huge variety of beings and objects, each dwelling based on their very own Guna-Karma, may also help us to maneuver away from anthropocentricity of the fashionable world that’s at the root of ecological crisis to a more cosmic view of human society as a part of a higher entire that respects nature and seeks harmonious existence inside nature. The steerage of the Dharmashastras and the Itihasas can be utilized to resolve moral dilemmas which will in any other case appear irresolvable.
Think about the difficulty of rising sexual frustration within the society that we discussed within the previous part. The roots of current sexual morality lies in Christian theology and the Victorian morality that deems sex as a sin and a taboo. The West with its march into scientific modernity rebelled towards this sexual suppression by the Christian theology by indulging in unrestrained sexual gratification, typically bordering on perversion and positing such gratification as freedom. The results of such excessive social phenomena might be seen within the form of breakdown of establishment of marriage, increased teenage being pregnant, abortions, habit to porn, and the normalization of BDSM, paedophilia, and so on.
Unfortunately, India can also be going the identical method. The Islamic invasion adopted by the British colonialism first imposed the beforehand non-existent disgrace relating to sexuality into Indian society. And now, we are more and more adopting the western mode of unrestrained sexual gratification as a way to precise our sexual freedom. This did not go properly for the West and this won’t go properly for India.
Does Indian civilization have an alternate method to cope with this? The answer to this is in the affirmative.
Dr. Bharat Gupt in a current workshop organized in Mysuru by Indic Academy titled “Sringara, Morality & Modernity: A Vedic Perspective” famous how contrary to the current development of decreasing sexuality into a mere physicality and its additional perversion, the Classical India elevated sexuality right into a Bhava (emotion), a Rasa (aesthetic style), and eventually as a mode of Bhakti. He explained that the Hindu texts take a nuanced strategy to sexuality and slowly elevate the mind to subtler and deeper points of it. Kamashastra, for example, offers with the physicality of sexual pleasure and the dynamics of man-woman relationship. The Dharmashastra enunciates upon the position of sexuality and the institutions like marriage (which have been conceived for selling wholesome sexual relationships) in society. The Natyashastra elevates sexuality from the realm of society and physicality to the extent of art and stylish psychological emotions (Bhava) and additional transforms it into aesthetic delight Rasa. The Srimad Bhagavatham further elevates it right into a mode of Bhakti by means of its accounts of Gopika’s erotic love and devotion to Sri Krishna and the way as a mode of Bhakti, sexuality can lead one to the last word goal- Moksha.
Such a comprehensive understanding of sexuality will elevate the thoughts, as an alternative of degrading it in the direction of perversion. A sexual schooling curriculum designed on these strains can go a great distance in preventing sexual objectification, obsession, frustration, habit, and perversion which are extensively prevalent in current society.
Similarly, the Indic discourse on abortion based mostly on the centuries of debates and discussions in the Dharmashastra tradition might help us transfer past the binaries of pro-choice and pro-life positions and arrive at a nuanced center path. The present discourse round adultery is yet one more quagmire and the Indic perspective can present many useful tips that could wade via it as nicely.
Thus, the conceptual frameworks of Indian civilization pays the best way to successfully negotiate with the challenges of the fashionable world- ethical or otherwise- which are arising out of the speedy march of know-how. Subsequently, there is a deeper have to revive these Indic Conceptual Frameworks and the bigger Dharmashastra custom in order to create an Indic social discourse that addresses the rising challenges of the fashionable world in a holistic, integral, and harmonious method.
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