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ISSN 0869-5377
Author: Bense Max

Bense Max

(1910–1990). German philosopher and culturologist, Professor of Philosophy and Theory of Science at the University of Stuttgart, head of the Stuttgart School of Information Aesthetics.


Spiritual Man and Technology / Logos. 2015. № 2 (104). P. 106-121
annotation:  This essay, written by Max Bense in 1946, is now published in Russian for the first time. The work shows the author as a patriarch of media archaeology, and one of the first thinkers to develop a method of integrally analyzing and comparing religious, cultural and technical phenomena on the basis of those media technologies that dominate in a certain period. As a forerunner of the computer age, Bense thought about the technical counterparts of human existence; unlike many of his contemporaries, he considered machines as pure products of human intelligence, with algorithms at their base, but he soon posed ethical questions, which were not discussed in ethics of technology until decades later. In his research, he refers, among other things, to the principles of clock production in the 16th century, in order to demonstrate that the ideas offered by Pierre Simon Laplace and Jean Calvin were essentially close. Bense succeeds in reconstructing European intellectual history by dramatically colliding Laplace’s predictive demon with the Platonic creative spirit, but without the technophobia inherent to Heidegger. Although an existential contradiction always remains between Laplace’s demon and the Platonic spirit, it assists in working out a finer idea of what a real person, who plays the role of a correction to history and to any type of society, should be. According to Bense, Plato’s theory is not opposed to the theory of Laplace, but is, instead, quite compatible with it. Also, the way in which the “demon” is theologically founded does not contradict its physicalist interpretation, due to the universal mathematical theory created by Leibniz, which in its turn led to the elaboration of quantitative methods in the natural sciences, to calculating machines and, later, to modern electronic media. Bense traces the development of European culture, from possessing technology to a technological existence, thus anticipating the analogous but much later intuitions of contemporary media theorists.
Keywords:  spiritual man; technical apparatus; Laplace’s demon; Platonic spirit; Calvin’s doctrine of predestination; Leibniz; clocks; calculating machine
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