Humanity and the Disruption of the Cosmos: How Berdyaev Foresaw our Reliance on Machines
Keywords:Religion, Atheism, Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, Technology
In his final work, the Realm of Spirit and the Realm of Caesar (1952), Nikolai Berdyaev categorized five historical periods on the relationship between humanity and nature. This meta-historical framework was articulated due to his concern about an obstructive imbalance between spirituality, materialism, and modern industrial technology. This essay overviews the framework and considers it with relation to eras subsequent his passing. It finds that Berdyaev's projection was not only theoretically plausible, but turned out to be remarkably accurate in predicting the transition from a technical industrial society to one based around autonomous spheres of operation including the internet and artificial intelligence. The final stage of the fourth period, our current era, was predicted by Berdyaev to be marked by a new form of global subjugation – in the merging of technology with the state and our enslavement to our own discoveries. Attention is also given to a future, eschatological fifth period in which Berdyaev believed a spiritual revolution would accompany widespread dissolution of state power and the emancipation of labor.
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