The Techno-Human Condition: Beyond the Fourth Revolution?

“The so-called ‘change agent’—capable of transforming the genetic sequence of living people—could radically alter the world as we know it.”

—Daniel Suarez, Change Agent

Arthur O. Lovejoy once described in his now classic The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea the pre-Copernican Cosmos as:

the conception of the plan and structure of the world which, through the Middle Ages and down to the late eighteenth century, many philosophers, most men of science, and, indeed, most educated men, were to accept without question – the conception of the universe as a “Great Chain of Being,” composed of an immense, or – by the strict but seldom rigorously applied logic of the principle of continuity – of an infinite, number of links ranging in hierarchical order from the meagerest kind of existents, which barely escape nonexistence, through “every possible” grade up to the ens perfectissimum – Of, in a somewhat more orthodox version, to the highest possible kind of creature, between which and the Absolute Being the disparity was assumed to be infinite everyone of them differing from that immediately above and that immediately below it by the “least possible” degree of difference.1

This sense that the universe was fixed and stable, that order reigned and everything from the largest (macro) to smallest (micro) thing in it had its place in the chain, one that put man and the earth at the center of a cosmic House of Being of which both the secular and the religious worlds were reconciled to God and the Absolute. Along with this was the hierarchical relation of power and divine right of Kings descending from the Absolute or God (whether in its secular mode of philosophy as Being, or its religious mode as exegesis of God’s Sovereignty).

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