Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul on technology and freedom

Jeffrey M Shaw, Salve Regina University

Abstract

This qualitative analysis examines the thinking of Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul on the impact that they believe technology and the idea of progress has had on human freedom. The thesis is that for both Merton and Ellul, modern technology itself and an uncritical acceptance of the idea of technological progress potentially inhibits the contemplative life and serves to deprive humanity of the God-given gift of freedom. ^ Examining Merton and Ellul through theological, sociological, and political lenses allows a point-by-point comparison of a number of different ideas that directly relate to the impact that technology has had on the human condition. This comparison identifies commonalities of thought and traces some of the antecedents to their thought. Merton the Roman Catholic and Ellul the Protestant offer remarkably similar conclusions regarding the impact that technology has had on the human condition. As Christians, they provide a distinctly Christocentric view of freedom, and it is against this unique view that the impact of technology and the idea of progress is evaluated. ^ Both men offer a "third way," which is an approach that allows one to transcend the grip that the technological society maintains over the individual. They are examples of men not only thinking about the impact that technology has had on human freedom as much as they are individuals firmly committed to living out the ideals that they spent their lives articulating.^

Subject Area

Philosophy of Science|Theology

Recommended Citation

Shaw, Jeffrey M, "Thomas Merton and Jacques Ellul on technology and freedom" (2012). Doctoral Dissertations (Off Campus access). AAI3560732.
http://digitalcommons.salve.edu/dissertations/AAI3560732

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