Friday, June 10, 2011

The same old irrational exuberance

     This morning, I noticed the above video posted at the Orange Juice Blog. It is a brief and interesting presentation by Internet guru Jim Gilliam entitled, “The Internet is my Religion.”
     Well, I watched it and left the comment below:
     I enjoyed Gilliam’s presentation and will acknowledge that he has quite a story to tell, but I do wonder about the label “humanism” applied to him and, frankly, about his philosophy also. Humanism—yes, a notoriously ambiguous term—is often viewed as a non-theistic (godless) philosophy that embraces the notion of the power of human faculties—especially reason. Gilliam has surely abandoned theism and embraced human capability, but his embrace of reason is questionable, for he does seem to embrace “faith,” or something very like it, and it is faith (one might argue) that makes religion religion more than does embrace of the supernatural. Yes, Gilliam was saved in part by internet activists, but his rescue had more to do with medicine and the phenomenon of individuals choosing to make their organs available to others—both pre-dating the Internet. And so why does he attribute the miracle of his rescue to the Internet and not to these other things, which surely are more fundamental to the event? At a certain point, Gilliam reminds one of the charismatic preacher who, having roused his audience with stories of happy accident, human kindness, and whatnot, commits the usual non sequitur: it’s Jeeeeeesus.
     Gilliam simply replaces Jesus with the Internet. So, what we have here is not humanism but a new, but a typical, religion—a thing with an utter failure of logic at its core.
     (Note: someone with a sounder training in the Humanities would not have made Gilliam's mistake—namely, conceiving and exhorting his godless, human-centered philosophy as a religion—something relying on "faith.")

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the post, I believe the internet will eventually become something entirely different than it currently is as Moore's Law continues.

In it's current state however it is hardly more than a medium of communication. Assigning these attributes to the internet is like calling a telephone god.

Great post.

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