Religion and Technology: Dictionary of Technology as a Case Study

  1. Lemma
  2. Religija i tehnologija: Recnik tehnologije kao studija slucaja
  3. Serbian
  4. Stevanovic, Aleksandra
  5. Modes of interaction
  6. 30-01-2018
  7. SOW [Co-organizer]. Workshop on Religion and Technology: Dictionary of Technology as a Case Stidy
    1. Bojović, Dragiša
    2. Gajić, Aleksandar
    3. Polić, Suzana
    4. Stevanovic, Aleksandra
    5. Petrovic, Aleksandar
    6. Dictionary of Technology
    7. Belgrade
    8. Dimitrijevic, Vladimir
    9. Paunesku, Tatjana
  8. Dictionary of Technology - dialogue between science and Orthodoxy
  9. 30/01/2019
    1. The Belgrade workshop “Religion and Technology: Dictionary of Technology as a Case Study” was organized in May 2018 within the frame of the international project “Science and Orthodoxy around the World” held by National Hellenic Research Foundation in Athens. The event was opened by the coordinator of the event Professor Aleksandar Petrović. The workshop explored theological and technological discourses permeating in the optics of one specific historical and creative moment – the phenomenon of Dictionary of Technology. The Dictionary was found as an incentive subject for this discussion and as a completely genuine manuscript, which in the form of Medieval Orthodox handwritten script referred to the issue of modernity and technology.

      The keynote address by Dr. Suzana Polić, Dictionary of Technology and Electronic Personality, introduced the issue of an electronic personality, or, the personality of a humanoid robot and the coming EU legislative on the protection of its rights. In her presentation, Dr. Polić compared the religious concept of personality and the technological concept of the electronic personality. She underlined the fact that technology never explored the concept of personality until the proposed legislative at the European parliament in 2017. In that sense, Dr. Polić elaborated on the multi-layered complexity of the issue of the electronic personality. She presented the religious considerations of Dostoevsky, Žarko Vidović and Father Mitrofan, as well as that of the Dictionary of Technology and contrasted them to the phenomenon of the electronic being.

      Another discussion-sparking theme was presented by Dr. Aleksandar Gajić who elaborated on Technological and Theological Dilemmas in the Postmodern Era. He argued how technology, despite its attempts to enter all spheres of life, is not truly able to reach qualitative layers of human existence. He implied that this closed determinism tends to eliminate all the other circles of cognition or streams of thought. In that endeavour, technology tries to mimic God and be existentially dominant. Dr. Gajić additionally deduced that technology shifts traditional religion to the new virtual places of worship. Doing that way, it breaks all the limits of human life as we know it. The second session started with the thought-provoking presentation by Professor Tatjana Paunesku on the theme The Fall of Insight. One of the main aspects of her lecture was biotechnology and its impact on contemporary human life. She explained the effect of the general reductionist approach has onto the reading of the Bible. It is sometimes considered that it is not necessary to perceive the entire message of the Bible. In many cases, people focus only on some parts of it. Professor Paunesku recollected Maximus the Confessor who said that for him,those who understand the Bible literally are not theologians, but technologians. Furthermore, with the reductionist approach, science became the victim of technology. Such approach consequently led to fundamentalism in religion and in science as well. Everything tends to be simplified and insight is perceived as not necessary. There is no clear comprehension of the words and what they mean – all that is lack of a profound view. That is why the Dictionary of Technology is produced in such a way that each person that reads it needs deeper perception without which he/she cannot comprehend the Dictionary. Not only did the Dictionary point at such civilizational problems, but it showed the way out from those labyrinths as well and long ago fostered reflection on religion and technology. Professor Paunesku concluded her exposé by saying that it must be well remembered that whatever is apt for tools is not adequate for human beings. Professor Dragiša Bojović in the presentation of the Dictionary of Technology and Church Studies – one Idea referred to the scientific paper Theology of Dictionary of Technology by Aleksandra Stevanović. He explained the history, strategy, aims and activities of the journal Church Studies, established in 2004 as the first academic journal in Serbia that fosters multidisciplinary research on theology, science, literature and arts. In that sense, professor Bojović related the establishment of Church Studies to the idea of the Dictionary of Technology implying that both these theoretical blueprints stem from one seed: multipolar re-ideation of the world dynamics from the foothold of medieval and Orthodox Christian creativity and canon. Dr. Vladimir Dimitrijević reflected on Searching for Theology behind Technology. In the paper, the historical context of Dictionary was explained and brought into relation with contemporary context of this script. A project preceding Dictionary, titled Technology, a 1980 special issue of the journal Vidici dedicated to the texts from anthropology of technology was mentioned with the aim to show genealogy of the philosophical thought on technology. In his paper, Dr. Dimitrijević elaborated on how Christian concept of victim is presented in this compilation of texts referring to technology, as well as in the Dictionary, as the impetus to Orthodox Christian religion. Dr. Dimitrijević concluded that Dictionary of Technology triggered one of the key theological questions of contemporary world – how did the world lose Logos and get drawn into virtuality? 

      The third part of the workshop included the summary of the presentations and concluding remarks by Aleksandra Stevanović. She commented the keynote address and the relation of the Dictionary of Technology and an electronic personality inferring that this issue opened a new window to the comprehension of the Dictionary. Along with virtual reality, the electronic personality is one of the themes this script implies. Stevanović added that apart from some theological manuscripts, the Dictionary of Technology is the only treatise of that time that explored the concept of personality in the frame of technology and its development. She found the lecture by Dr. Gajić equally engaging for the emphasis on technological “values”. Technology tries to enhance religious values and upgrade them to be suitable to some modern forms of life. She recollected a round table held at the Institute of European Studies in 2016 which engaged in discussion on the Dictionary and anti-utopia. The dictionary did not appear as an antiutopian script, rather it confronted the utopia which aided technology in its attempt to be at the apex of historical circumstances. In the lecture by Dr. Paunesku, the commentator found relation of reductionist approach to the attitude towards the Dictionary which still poses challenge to the true comprehension of it and the overall perception of the relationship between religion and technology. Relating Church Studies and the Dictionary of Technology as one project in his presentation, professor Bojović illuminated another significance of the Dictionary – the perseverance of an idea and the will to endure despite all uncertainties of the contemporary era. Aleksandra Stevanović concluded that the same dedication is also evident in the attempt of both “projects” to harmonize thinkers from the fields of history of science, philosophy, theology, science and technology with the aim of searching for truth and undivided experience. The presentation by Dr. Dimitrijević, which recollected conditions of the time when this separate issue of the journal Vidici appeared showed how the Dictionary was able to transcend its time for its identity, since it is not technological in its essence. The script is a significant event almost forty years since its publishing while the context of the time completely faded and left no mark on the present time. Having summarized the diverse views by the workshop participants, Stevanović presented some views on the theme and explained the reasons for the choice of the Dictionary of Technology as the case study of the project SOW workshop Religion and Technology. The dictionary represents a unique unallotted inner dialogue of Orthodox theology and technology. Not only in Serbian setting, it is the only treatise which connects these spheres in their essence and represents the amalgam of premodern-postmodern experience which serves as an epistemological nucleus for the technological pulse observation. Stevanović stated that in technological milieu traditional anchorage is abandoned so that the new possibilities are sought in the sea of endless technological hopes. Even though the opportunities seem unlimited, maybe there is less and less spiritual freedom in such a context. The main problem is in the hopes that the only one eligible of bringing in better future, is technology. Thus, it becomes the mirror of the Divine power when at the same time pure theological questions are put aside. It offers people to believe in it and now it is not even the question whether people believe in it or not, but whether they are good enough for it or not. The final part of the workshop was concluded with a one-hour discussion among the speakers and the audience. The questions orbited around the relationship of religion and technology and Dictionary’s vision on its growing, both secular and religious power. All the scholars in the audience engaged in the vivid discussion and presented their views regarding the relationship between Orthodox theology and technology. Finally, it was concluded that the Dictionary of Technology undoubtedly presented a unique connective tissue for the final inner comprehension of religion–technology dynamics.