Technology and Human Responsibility

Issue #158                                                November 9, 2004
                 A Publication of The Nature Institute
           Editor:  Stephen L. Talbott (

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Editor's Note

The Reduction Complex (Stephen L. Talbott)
   What happens when cognition becomes too grasping?


About this newsletter


                              EDITOR'S NOTE

The article below culminates (for the time being, at least) my series on
the mechanistic tendency in modern thought.  I try here to characterize in
a rather more systematic way the interwoven notions of materialism,
mechanism, and reductionism, and I touch for the first time upon their
moral aspect.  The lengthy essay will not be for everyone, but all readers
may wish to look at the first three sections: "Reductionism in Context",
"A Defining Gesture", and "Fighting for Possession of the Truth".  I also
suggest you check out the concluding section, "Incoherence".

This essay is part of a growing collection entitled "From Mechanism to a
Science of Qualities", available at
The collection, which is subject to continual revision (your critical comments are invited!), includes several essays that have not previously appeared in NetFuture. It will now be a relief to turn my main attention to a more positive characterization of qualitative science. After all, any critique of mechanistic thinking must appear lifeless except insofar as it grows out of a positive vision. On the other hand, once the positive vision is sketched, the critique will become much more than a critique; it will be an invitation, not only to a different way of doing science, not only a different way of relating to technology, but also to a different way of being human. SLT Goto table of contents ========================================================================== THE REDUCTION COMPLEX Habits of the Technological Mind #5 Stephen L. Talbott ( Materialism, mechanism, reductionism -- these are strange and slippery terms, easily abused by both advocates and opponents. You realize that they must be slippery