Technology’s Spillover Effect

It should be obvious that technology has profound effects on human belief and behavior, but it isn’t. We talk all the time about changing social trends, shifts in cultural beliefs, and developments in human sexuality, but we often look to other cultural influences to explain them. Why did the West come to value property rights and religious freedom? The Enlightenment, of course. Well, yes. But would there have been an Enlightenment without important technological changes like movable type or the successes of certain scientific discoveries? Doubtful. Important technological changes influenced the thought and behavior of people, which in turn, produced the cultural conditions for the Enlightenment. The technological changes that preceded the Enlightenment were already doing the job of closing down the medieval worldview and opening people’s minds to empirical science, free inquiry, and human reason. Technological change gave birth to the Enlightenment. Continue reading

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