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The Buddha in the MachineArt, Technology, and the Meeting of East and West$
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R. John Williams

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300194470

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300194470.001.0001

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Technê-Zen and the Spiritual Quality of Global Capitalism

Technê-Zen and the Spiritual Quality of Global Capitalism

(p.174) 7. Technê-Zen and the Spiritual Quality of Global Capitalism
The Buddha in the Machine

R. John Williams

Yale University Press

This chapter examines the notion of technê-Zen: a discourse premised on the supposed commensurability and mutual determination of Zen Buddhism (including all of its related Taoist notions and techniques of spiritual and aestheticized practice—in short, its technê) and the possibilities of an organic and holistic form of rationalist technocracy. In analyzing the discourse of technê-Zen in Robert Pirsig's novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, its historical origins, and its ongoing role in the networked global capitalist systems we live with today, this chapter advances two main arguments: first, whereas Pirsig posits technê-Zen as a discursive rupture from the dissident “spirit of the sixties,” his book can be more correctly understood as both a continuation and an acceleration of a discourse of “cybernetic Zen” already well under way in the 1950s and 1960s; second, the forms of technê-Zen developed in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance have come to occupy an especially privileged space in the technologically saturated realms of network capitalism and particularly the corporate management theories that currently dominate international business practice

Keywords:   technology, cybernetics, Zen Buddhism, Pirsig, Alan Watts, counterculture, Orientalism, computer history, management studies, total quality management, Tron, Disney, Apple

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