“The challenge of absorbing this new technology into the values and practices of the existing culture has no precedent. The most comparable event was the transition from the medieval to the modern period. In the medieval period, people interpreted the universe as a creation of the divine and all its manifestations as emanations of divine will. When the unity of the Christian Church was broken, the question of what unifying concept could replace it arose. The answer finally emerged in what we now call the Age of Enlightenment; great philosophers replaced divine inspiration with reason, experimentation, and a pragmatic approach. “
From The Metamorphosis, The Atlantic – Henry A. Kissinger, Eric Schmidt And Daniel Huttenlocher
The Metamorphosis is a very interesting article in The Atlantic. Co-written by three very influential people it muses over the impacts of artificial intelligence which is all the rage now. Some of the three writers end with forecasts that are optimistic. Others are more skeptical. It is easy to figure out who wrote what in the article. The quote above is surely Henry Kissinger reminding the kids of some of the fundamentals of history in the West. It is rather peculiar that Kissinger jumps from the medieval period to the modern in one fell swoop but so be it. I highly doubt that most kids graduate from college these days with even the faintest understanding of the Age of Enlightenment or any notion of this concept of history and humanity.
The other unifying concept was of course the creation and notion of the “self” but that is far too complex for most people to comprehend in our current age of narcissism and selfies. You can get a better understanding how this is relevant in the field of psychology by reading The Invention of the Self: The Hinge of Consciousness in the Eighteenth Century by John O. Lyons, my dear old dad who’s ashes are floating around somewhere in lake Michigan. Rest his soul.