Dialectic of innovation

In the most general sense of creative and inventive thought, innovation has always aimed at liberating us from destruction. Yet this technologically progressive world is hurtling us closer and closer to oblivion. We are disenchanted by myths and fanciful illusions yet imagine the science fiction of full automation. We have subjected everything natural to close microscopic scrutiny seeking how to regain mastery of a world radiating disaster.

On the one hand, innovation furnishes us with the conditions for greater justice; on the other, those who administer the technical apparatus are afforded disproportionate superiority to the rest of the population. Each individual is devalued, reduced to millions of on online gestures; mined, fracked, drilled, data sold as fuel for the transnational magnates. We as individuals are disappearing before the technical future, reduced to our multiple parts designed for the multiple medias. Nevertheless these systems have provided for us as never before.

In this paradox, technical innovation must examine itself if the human species and the ecologically stretched planet we inhabit are not to be wholly betrayed.

First question: How in the world, at the height of innovation and technical sophistication, has civilisation begun to return to barbarism?

Since the time of Homer, technical progress has come from the separation of mind, rationalism, and power from the fleshy and feeling everyone else. In order for progress to happen, those who innovate must convince us that they think differently to the general population. That they are more exciting than us. That they the innovators are the guardians of progress.

Contemporary technical rationality has worked to completely empty itself of connection to humanity, from the body, and the contextual sphere. We are left with an ego that can do anything but believes in nothing.

In shedding the trappings of justice, the technically progressive self is led to take pleasure in treating humans like playthings, ignoring pleas for justice, finding loopholes in law, pushing beyond the socially agreed upon boundaries of morality, apologising later.

Like Enlightened thought upon which it builds its foundations, technical rationality will inevitably destroy itself.


Social freedom has become inseparable from innovation; thus innovation contains the seed for its own reversal. Too many techno-cultural objects warn of a future fully automated, bereft of humanity. Mass information leads to popular paranoia and uncomprehending absurdity. The technical objects designed to streamline provide us with iconography with priests preaching their worth – if only you will click. By reducing the parts of us to tiny reductive objects; by proving the non-existence of mythology, a religion is born. And along with it all the trappings of atrocities and barbarism.

For thus far, religion and reason have failed to co-exist.


Adorno, T.W. and Horkheimer, M. (1944). Dialectic of Enlightenment. Translated by John Cumming in 1972. New York. Herder and Herder.

Cahoone, L. (nd). Kierkegaard’s Critique of Reason. In The Modern Intellectual Tradition from Descartes to Derrida. 14 (4790). The Great Courses.



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