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The Allure and impossibility of an algorithmic future: A lesson from Patočka’s supercivilisation

Učník, L. (2021) The Allure and impossibility of an algorithmic future: A lesson from Patočka’s supercivilisation. Studies in East European Thought .

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Our experience of the present is defined by numbers, graphs and, increasingly, an algorithmically calculated future, based on the mathematical and formal reasoning that began with the rise of modern science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Today, this reasoning is further modified and extended in the form of computer-executed, algorithmic reasoning. Instead of fallible human reasoning, algorithms—based on mining databases for ‘information’—are seen to provide more efficient processes, offering fast solutions. In this paper, then, I will follow Jan Patočka, who suggests that we live in an age of supercivilisation, one in which human reasoning has become self-sufficient, ceasing to depend on the supernatural or cultural traditions that previously guided human lives. My argument is that Patočka’s analysis of supercivilisation can open up a different way to reflect on the ‘spiritual foundation of our times’. As Patočka says, to reflect on our situation does not mean that we can change it, but reflection can give us a new understanding that will open up different ways to think about our human future.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences
Publisher: Springer Nature
Copyright: © 2021 Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
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