Cogito, ergo sum (Mazlish’s “The Fourth Discontinuity”)

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6 thoughts on “Cogito, ergo sum (Mazlish’s “The Fourth Discontinuity”)

  1. colin200011226

    Bruce Mazlish, historian at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, thinks there is compelling evidence that not only our functioning of society, but our identities as humans pivot on our mutual relationship with machines.
    Mazlish identifies three previous mental barriers or discontinuities that the human race has had to overcome. The First Discontinuity started to be crossed when Nicolaus Copernicus proposed his theory of heliocentricity, which stated that the Earth rotated around the Sun and not the other way around. The Second Discontinuity was then breached when Charles Darwin popularized his theories of evolution and natural selection. Then, the Third Discontinuity started to be dispelled when Sigmund Freud bridged the divide between our conscious and subconscious, in the process highlighting human beings as psychological as well as physiological creatures. According to Freud, the ID is the primitive and instinctual part of our mind that contain sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories, the super-ego operates as a moral conscience; and the ego is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego.
    Copernicus helped dispel the myth that humanity is at the center of the Universe, while Charles Darwin demonstrated how humans are intrinsically linked to the animal kingdom. Then, Freud linked our conscious and sub-conscious selves. Human beings on each occasion had to accept being slightly less special, and less distinct than they had previously imagined. Now, Mazlish dispels the fourth discontinuity. Human beings are fundamentally linked to our artificial technology. This is not to suggest that human beings are the same as machines, but rather there is a continuous spectrum between the man and machine, with no strict boundary.
    Mazlish’s proposition that we are now crossing the Fourth Discontinuity is presented in two parts. Firstly, he states that it is no longer realistic to think of humans without machines. Secondly, he suggests that the same paradigms or concepts now explain the very workings of both human beings and many artificial mechanisms. Machines are an extension humanity, and humanity is an extension of our machines. Humans are connected in a cybergenetic relationship with machines.

    Colin Alli

  2. PrescillaR

    In the article, The Fourth Discontinuity” by Bruce Mazlish talks about different discontinuities to explain the relationship between humans and technology. The first discontinuity is shown by Copernicus who disproved the belief that the earth was the center of the world. Everyone used to think that the stars and the moon used to revolve around the earth but the earth was actually a part of something greater. Humans always believed that God created them but Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolution, which shows another continuity. Darwin explains that humans have evolved from greater ancestors. Sigmund Freud speaks about how all minds are similar and they all have an I.D, superego, and ego. The I.D is the animal instincts humans have. The superego is when your mind follows rules and customs that follow society. The ego is essentially the middleman that comes to a consensus and makes a proper judgment. The fourth idea opposes discontinuity by explaining how man and machines are continuous. Humans build tools to reach something that is far from their potential. The technology that we build helps us think differently and exceed in places we couldn’t we didn’t think were possible. With the technology that humans make, there are amazing advancements in the field of medicine such as insulin pumps and machines that help with sensitive surgeries. People are involved in the evolution of technology that improves the way we think. Humanity and technology go hand and hand to help each other grow and become a better version of themselves.

  3. Geetangli

    In the article “The Fourth Discontinuity” Bruce Mazlish expresses his concerns about the connection between humans and technology. He describes this connection as ‘the fourth discontinuity’. Mazlish begins to list out the three other discontinuities that humans had overcome in the past. First he talks about Copernicus, who made the realization that the earth was not the center of the universe, but more so a tiny part of the galaxy with so much more that is yet to be discovered within the galaxy. He then goes to Darwin, who “robbed man of his peculiar privilege of having been specially created, and relegated him to a descent from the animal world.” Finally he aims at Freud, who claims that we are not the masters in our own homes. Freud began to break down the human mind into three categories; the id, ego and superego. Our id, is our raw and animal like instincts and desires. One the other end we have our superego, which governs on rules, morals and laws. In between we have our ego, who is our conscious and negotiable part, that makes the final decision. Now Mazlish gets to his belief of what the fourth discontinuity is. Mazlish believes that humans and technology work together. In a sense that is true, however he takes it one step further, in saying that humans would not be able to function without the existence of technology. Technology is merely an addition to us, rather than a tool used to help compliment us.

  4. Scotte Ng

    The article “The Fourth Discontinuity” Bruce Mazlish goes over his own worries about the connection between humans and technology. Mazlish tells us about how humans had overcome previous barriers. The first discontinuity shown by Copernicus who explains that the belief of the earth was the center of the world. We believed that stars and the moon used to go around the earth, but earth was part of something bigger the galaxy. The second discontinuity was humans were all made from god, but Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolving or evolution. We evolved from our ancestors. Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and theories of evolution completely broke the notion of god created us. The third discontinuity is Sigmund Freud is about how humans and their minds. We all have things like superego, ego and ID. ID is our animal instincts and desires that we all have. The ego is the which is the conscious thought that makes choices. Our superego is which monitors things on rules, morals, and laws. Mazlish explains the fourth theory which is humans with technology. He believes how technology and humans start to work together. All our thoughts and things we implement them into machines. He believes how without technology we wouldn’t be able to survive without the use of technology. Technology becomes developed when humans started making things that were out of their reach where the impossible becomes possible. Humans have contributed to the evolution of technology which improves the way we think. Humans and technology are connected and both helps us grow as a whole and we become better versions of themselves.

  5. Thania Miah

    In the article “The fourth discontinuity” by Bruce Mazlish, Mazlish discusses the connection between man and machine. Before going into it he starts off by describing the other three discontinuities. The first discontinuity was shown by Copernicus, who taught that our earth was not the center of the universe but just a spec. before him we believed the earth was the center of everything. Humanity was seen as discontinuous with the natural world, our place was separate. The second discontinuity was revealed by Charles Darwin and he said that humanity wasn’t created by god but by evolution. Humanity evolved over time and humanity was made continuous with all other life on earth. The third discontinuity was introduced my Freud. He argues that his psychoanalysis was relevant to prove to the ego that he is not master in his own house but must remain content with various scraps of information that is going on in his mind. Freud showed that the human mind was not a unity of reason and it is a tripartite mind locked in struggle with one another and from that struggle we produce the curious mind. He then goes on to describe the id, super ego and ego. The id is the part of the mind that is based on animal instincts and basic desires. The super ego is the part of the mind based on rules, laws, customs and other restrictions on our place in human society. In between all that is the ego, which negotiates and is our conscious self as well as the decision maker. Finally the fourth continuity which is by Mazlish is between man and the machine. He argues that we are now coming to realize that man the machine that he makes are continuous. He recognizes that we build the machines and expand what they’re capable of us. Mazlish main point is that humanity is continuous with technology, we have evolved and with it has our technology.

  6. Goodman George

    In the article The Fourth Discontinuity MIT historian Bruce Mazlish shows how humanity is continuous with its technology, bypassing once impregnable ideas that seems absolute.The sorted problem areas, these discontinuities are the focal points where earth-shattering breakthroughs literally broke the chains accompanied with them. If we consider Ong’s argument – writing changes how we think, Mazlish agrees that we create technology that changes us and we in turn change or improve upon technology. Human beings and their technology are part of the system, which has progressed to a point where some of our digital technology is in fact very much like us in terms of thought, decision-making, etc. This idea we’re continuous with technology, they’re extensions of ourselves – constantly pushing beyond what once impossible to achieve based on was used to be irrefutable. The first discontinuity refers to heliocentricity – the now false claim the Sun resides at the center of the perceivable universe. Copernicus dispelled the myth celestial bodies revolve around our planet exclusively and that Earth was at the center of everything. A major paradigm shift was triggered changing how people think about the heavens above and where humanity stands. The second discontinuity is accredited to the father of evolutionary biology Charles Darwin who attests a species’s survival isn’t ordained by a higher power, but is the result of natural selection weeding out the strongest and most likely candidates to have offspring. His theory postulates humanity evolved over time and was continuous with other species. The third discontinuity is about Sigmund Freud and his psychoanalysis pointing out the human mind isn’t simplistic once fully understood. According to the Freudian school of psychology, a person’s tripartite – id, ego, superego – carries the core aspects of their personality. The id are animal instincts and innermost desires. The superego is concerned with self-governance, laws, and keeping ourselves in-check. The ego is all about our conscious self and the choices we make. Mazlish believes the fourth discontinuity up against is humans and technology. To sustain our continuity technology is implemented to keep moving ahead. Contributions to technology are directly the result of human intervention and need to further ourselves even more.

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