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From Enlightenment to Cyborgs

DOI: 10.4236/oalib.1104033, PP. 1-46

Subject Areas: History, Sociology, Anthropology

Keywords: Enlightenment Homme Nouveau, Enlightenment Naturophilus & Technophilus Soul, Man-Machine Integration Process, Progressive Techno-Scientism, Secular Religion, Eugenics, Academic/Industrial/Military Iron Triangle

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The decline of the feudal system and the progressive rise of the medieval bourgeoisie to power roles and government functions, leads the West (17th century) to theorize and assume a materialistic, reductionist and mechanistic model of thought, based on a privileged, tendentially exclusive, relationship with Science (Galilean scientific method), technique and technology. This paper takes into account the historical, sociological, and anthropological elements (such as the unlimited perfectibility of humanity advocated by the French Enlightenment and the mechanization of the production cycle envisaged by English pro-to-liberalism) of this paradigmatic revolution, which more than others help us understanding the causal process that led to contemporary techno-centrism 4.0. It is highlighted that thanks to the interweaving between the ideals of the French Enlightenment, with its two souls (Naturophilus and Technophilus), and the Anglo-Saxon entrepreneurial foresight (proved successful with the Industrial Revolution 1.0), takes shape the Positivist paradigm, and with it the Positivist secular religion, whose affirmation and diffusion generate a stream of widely shared thought throughout the West, i.e. Eugenics, which radicalizes the most ambivalent (pseudo-scientific) and reactionary (philocolonialist) instances of Enlightenment and Positivism, leading to a series of crimes against the person and against humanity, which will result in the mass eliminations conducted, in particular but not only, by Nazi-fascism and Stalinism (two totalitarian regimes that share the same Positivist roots and the same passion for Eugenics thought). It is highlighted that the heart of the industrialization process begins to throb in factories, where the introduction of mechanical systems into the production cycle triggers the man-machine integration process, which soon becomes the ful-crum, the economic, social and cultural driving factor of the western civilization. It will be thanks to the evolution of the mechanical systems employed in the production chains and to the establishment of the Liberalist economic model, that between the second and third Industrial Revolution consolidates the alliance between academic, industrial and military (the academic/industrial/military iron triangle). An alliance destined to play a decisive role in the two World Wars of the 20th century and in all subsequent warfare. The present paper therefore highlights how the two World Wars have exponentially increased western scientific and technological development, which once transferred from the military to the civilian sector, has taken off the Industrial Revolution 3.0. Thanks to the Second World War, the US academic/industrial/military iron triangle is strengthened and becomes the world leader in scientific, military, economic and technological development. The computerization of society and the development of so-called Artificial Intelligence are side effects of the new way of conceiving the integrated relationship between soldier and armament, matured in the US military sector during World War II. The soldier-armament automation model that emerged from that war experience, and the enormous technical and technological developments that have taken place, paved the way for the creation of man-machine hybrids (cyborgs) and for the robotization of society (Industrial Revolution 4.0), intended to be a complementary effect of contemporary warfare. In conclusion, the birth of a neo-positivist secular religion, inspired by a scientific and hermaphroditic divinity, called Universal Consciousness, is contemplated.

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Messori, C. (2017). From Enlightenment to Cyborgs. Open Access Library Journal, 4, e4033. doi:


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