Are we nothing more than a sum of our parts? As we make our way through the changes in society that I have mentioned in previous articles, we see how changes in the broader society that we wouldn’t normally connect to considerations of personhood do in fact connect to them. Before we can understand how to respond to these changes, we must first understand what they are and where they came from.
The commoditization of man is the gradual movement from man having innate value just because of who he is to being looked at more and more simply as having value due to the goods that one can get from him. With the mechanization of man, that commoditization is gradually joined by a continued degradation of the worth of man, now seeing the time and labor of man as the commodity, buying it for the bottom dollar possible. Effectively, man is seen simply as a cog in a great machine meant to make the man at the top rich, whether or not the product being made has any quality or worth to it.
With the metallization of man, the previous two effects, the commoditization of man and the mechanization of man, are then joined by the growth of a view of man as being nothing more than a collection of parts (i.e., a biological machine) rather than a person with innate value.
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The growth of this view found its source not only in the treatment of man in his newer, more modern workplaces, and the changes that resulted in his view of himself and others, but it also came from great discoveries in science. As medical science has grown, it has been discovered just how complex the human body actually is. There are innumerable parts working together in order to make the body work, much like the gears in a clock but far more complex. The closer one looked, the more parts and interactive systems one found.
At the same time, as magnification technology gradually grew in effectiveness, scientists began to see more and more what made up the basic materials of the parts, moving from molecules, to atoms, and beyond. Not only did these discoveries show the incredible complexity of the systems of the human body and what makes it up, but they also led to incredible leaps in technology, both in the technological and the biological. More and more, the alteration of the basic biological structures of man, and the fusion of man and machine, things that had only previously been considered seriously by science-fiction writers, began to seem within the grasp of those who could use that knowledge.
The insights that came with this information led to some incredible good for humanity. Surgical techniques that could repair damage that until now would have killed someone were developed, at times developing far enough to lead to outpatient procedures with minimal recovery times. Medicines were developed that could both treat and cure infections from bacteria and viruses, along with various poisonous substances, vastly decreasing the mortality rate from these things.
Along with the surgical techniques and medications that were developed, technological solutions have gradually been developed that allow for the replacement of damaged or lost body parts, whether it is with an organ from a pig or a machine shop. These things, ongoing in their development right now, have led both to longer lifespans and to higher quality of life for those who are having those longer lives. With this, though, comes great danger.
In the early 20th century, this knowledge and prejudices that predate this knowledge came together in one of the darkest chapters of U.S. history, a chapter that most have never heard of. This chapter is the time of the eugenics movement. For centuries, man had been learning how plants replicate, and how to alter the natural process by only allowing certain plants to pass on their genetic material. This has revolutionized agriculture, as this knowledge has also been applied to farm animals and pets.
If your view of the person is as a means to an end, it takes very little imagination to see how one could go from using that concept on non-human entities to using it on humans. The basic Progressive idea at the time was that the poor and otherwise undesirable should be prevented from having children. The poor children would have lives that were seen by the elites as not worth living. And the other undesirables, especially those with some form of genetic or moral defect, were a grave detriment to the genetic pool, causing harm to the greater humanity by their continued having of children.
This led to the state-sponsored, forced sterilization of tens of thousands in the U.S. before this evil practice was ended. While the undesirables of eugenics could simply be ignored and avoided by those who didn’t want to deal with them, they wouldn’t be the only ones who would face this dehumanization.
Instead, things would then get worse. While the inconvenient poor or mentally ill person can be avoided easily by most, a child one is pregnant with cannot. With the declining view of the human person through the commoditization, mechanization, and metallization of man, and declining religious faith in general, society has drifted more and more to a view of the world in which “it’s all me and my happiness, and anything that gets in the way of that must be gotten rid of.” If one can declare that the one who is in the way of your perceived happiness is not a person, then it makes getting rid of that “roadblock to happiness” much easier.
We see this in the modern age in which the abortion industry and those who support its views, including some philosophers, make the false claim that the child in the womb is no different than a wart on your back, making removing and discarding of it a non-issue in the moral sense. How quickly we moved, as a society, from denying the personhood of the “undesirables” outside of the womb to those inside of the womb. After all, it is much easier for the undesirables outside of the womb to fight their fight in court and in public opinion than it is for the unborn to do so. If we won’t defend the right to life of the most innocent among us, the unborn, then how can anyone else hope that their rights will be protected?
This is the case with euthanasia. Euthanasia is pitched as self or assisted suicide that helps free one from a continued life of suffering and pain. Theoretically, this is a voluntary act done by one who has been thoroughly checked out by a psychologist who verifies a lack of mental illness in the person and a clarity of mind to allow them to make a clear choice. In many cases, though, this is not the reality with those who are effectively being executed.
Although there are stories of family members holding down their supposedly-loved ones so someone can administer the deadly chemical cocktail to them, in many cases, it is a panel of “experts” at a hospital who decide to end these lives. These “death panels” decide that the patient’s life isn’t worth continuing and that killing them would be a better, less painful, choice. The sad reality is that the “authority” to do evil acts such as these, while not at all seen as acceptable by the majority of people, are approved and protected by a centralized governmental authority who, rather than protecting the human rights of their citizens from conception to natural death, sees allowing the removal of these undesirables as fitting whatever agenda it is that they want to push.
If doing this to those undesirables is ok, then what happens when you become the undesirable? This is already a problem even before one considers the reality of forced medical testing that commonly is done in regimes that dehumanize their populations that much—including the genetic modification of embryos by the addition of animal DNA to them in order to see what happens.
With all of this, man draws ever closer to a sick dream of recreating himself in his own image, becoming whatever he thinks he should be rather than what God made him to be. The deeper one dives into this, the more totalitarian tendencies one starts to see from a government and whatever mob holds positive public opinion at the time. They seek to remake the world as they see fit, as those with lesser knowledge are too stupid to understand. With this special secret knowledge, the modern gnostic seek to escape the bounds of nature, achieving ascension to a greater existence. Unfortunately for them, that’s not how it works.
[Image Credit: Unsplash]