Alan Moore on his blog drew attention to Andrew Hessel’s recent talk on The Internet of living things at Mobile Monday in Amsterdam.  See here. Andrew Hessel is an engaging speaker and roamed around the subject with great enthusiasm and in essence seemed to conclude that there is an inevitability to biology disappearing up its own source of creativity.  Where is the human in all this? 

Thankfully one brave individual did stand up at the very end and ask the big question. “what part does the soul play in all this?”  Hessel’s answer was to say he didn’t want to really get involved in this because he was only a stupid geneticist.  His view was that the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts,… and that’s kind of magic”. 

Unfortunately that is not good enough because whilst Hesserl and others rightly say Pandora’s box has been opened and there is no closing the lid we still need to be increasingly conscious of what is happening and to create a framework that gives some understanding to the rapid changes in our social, economic and natural world.

Hesserl suggested that the question of the soul was one for philosophers to work on and not his area of expertise.  I don’t believe this is true and is in fact a cop out.  We all operate within some philosophical and ideological framework and we should be aware of the assumptions we are making.

I keep returning to Rudolph Steiner’s work from the beginning of the last century which was prescient in so many ways.  He drew attention to the developments that have led to increasing engagement with “sub-nature” an area completely mechanical and material.  For him this environment needed to countered with super-nature or spiritual understanding – pivotal to these two realms was man in his conscious awareness of both realms.

Some try to decry the Internet and its “being” (see Prokofiev here) and do not trust people to work from their heart’s towards an understanding of themselves and their place in the world.  Thankfully Eugene Schwartz from within the Anthroposophical movement in the US wrote a very thoughtful and polite(!) critique of Prokofiev’s views.

One has to be positive that people are actually getting on with these questions and making progress towards improved understanding or as Venessa Miemis calls them “communities of trust”.