Matas Bytautas


In the 21st century, rapidly developing technologies and their integration into social life have created a new type of reality: virtual reality generated by information technologies. This new technological phenomenon, which differs from the other technical creations produced by humanity, belongs to a different plane to the familiar physical one. We are not talking about a technical product that has acquired a new quality, but about a new layer of reality that has formed in which the speed, features, possibilities and impacts of processes are very different from technological processes in familiar physical reality. This “otherness” implies that earlier technical criticism, which addressed various dehumanising aspects, is not enough to critically evaluate the new technological reality.
The question therefore arises of whether it is possible to formulate a critical point of reference that serves humanitarian purposes from the one side and allows new qualitative changes to be appreciated from the other.
The structure of productive character, a concept elucidated by Erich Fromm, is analysed to achieve this aim. This concept is a means of expressing humanism as a value, acting as a starting point from which the new technology-formed reality can be assessed.
The structure of productive character reveals to us is that it is the position of classical humanism as value (human purpose is the development of one’s potential) and that it combines inner mental qualities with one’s social environment without attributing the determining role for any of these aspects.
The opportunity to form this kind of character by Fromm is, first, to do practice in which a person, through awareness, transforms forces that are irrational and have an influence on him or her. The result is that this person is free from the forces that stopped the individual from realising him or herself. Secondly, to transform his or her social life, when, instead of passive existence determined by a mechanised societal order and computers, the person chooses active self-realisation. Special groups of people are helping this shift to happen. When, through these means, a person has finally formed the structure of productive character within him or herself, then the main value and orientation of that individual’s life is the further development of their potential – the results of which will be integrated into social life.
Based on this model of productive character as a point of reference, it is possible to assess technological reality independently from its changes. This point of reference is oriented to principles of human development, which is why an assessment of these new technologies is possible.
However, the use of the model of productive character as a reference point for assessing technological reality doesn’t mean that the practical realisation of humanism as a value position is possible, because this process is inseparable from a subject’s substantive self-transformation.


humanism, character, social technology, value

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236