Protection of Nature – Protection of Culture: On the Significance of the Chinese Understanding of Technology in the Context of the International Discussion on Environment

Heinrich Geiger

Living in the Anthropocene, we have new possibilities to make use of technology. Studying ancient Chinese philosophy, we learn that the essence of technology can be characterized by the concept of an ongoing dynamic process between human beings and nature. All human activities are already part of nature: what we do, inevitably affects nature and nature correspondingly always affects us in turn. It has to be realized that the “ten thousand things,” the things of the world, are not only a “standing reserve” to be exploited by man. Instead, cooperation between man and nature has to be taken as a holistic, dynamic process.

Due to the technological and scientific development in the Anthropocene, in the 21st century, technology is expected as a means to overcome the ecological violence of man during the Holocene. Ancient Chinese philosophers would say that the evolution and procreation of heaven and earth have to be assisted. From them we also could get to know that a narrow anthropocentrism will lead to much unhappiness, quarrelling and disharmony. It may even bring disaster upon the whole population of the world. The first step to overcome any kind of narrow anthropocentrism would be to learn from the historical truth that nature has already been formed by different technologies and strategies of power (bio-power) over centuries. The second step would be to develop a new understanding of technology, based on the idea of a way of living in harmony between man and nature which is already the second or, as some would say, the third nature.

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