order to get what I want” type, resorting to technology is of itself sufficient. But when the question is: “What is it good for me to want”, namely when the choice is among different purposes, then the need to have a criterion for choosing which is founded on a value judgment category is a must. No form of technological progress will ever be able to provide me with a value criterion on the basis of which I can choose my life plan.
It is therefore easy to understand the scope of the deception that the myth of technology is spreading: it induces people to believe that the advancement of technical and scientific knowledge is sufficient to solve all choosing-related problems. And ultimately that any issue can be solved by waiting. Instead we know that this deception leads to an unquestionable outcome: one’s whole life is led without purpose and without meaning.
b.The Myth of Axiologic Individualism
The second myth is that of axiologic individualism, that is to say the position that denies the basically relational nature of the individual.
It is well-known that the culture of modernity has encroached on the relational foundation of values, which have taken on an increasingly private and optional dimension. The most macroscopic consequences of this is the increasing loss, in the global society, of relational assets, that is to say of those assets in which the identity and the motivations of those who interact are essential elements in order for the asset to confer the advantage that one can expect from it, as occurs with services for people. Instead of relational assets there is a supply and demand for status assets, those assets that are useful for the status they create, for the relative position one can occupy on the social ladder as a result of holding or using such assets. Now while in relational assets the presence and relationship with the other is cooperative and reciprocal (all the partners to a friendship enjoy the advantages of friendship), the essential characteristic of the status asset is the competition for the “status”.
And what are the most conspicuous effects produced by status competition? One effect is consumerism: since what counts is the relative level of consumption, status competition prompts people to consume more than their neighbours; the other effect of consumerism is the systematic destruction of relational assets (think of the growing solitude in which consumerism is experienced in our towns). The result of the two effects is that, beyond certain levels of consumption, any increase in spending on material goods will not increase “happiness”.
c.The Myth of the Homo Oeconomicus
This myth can be described as follows: since the behaviour of human beings is prompted solely by individual interest, the only way to ensure a social order where there is freedom and efficiency, is that of intervening on the patterns of incentives for individuals.
But the use of incentives in the educational process has devastating effects. The main reason is that somehow an incentive-based system always conveys the idea that there are no good reasons for doing what someone has been asked to do, and therefore his support must be “purchased”. And indeed, incentives are a form of exchange, albeit sui generis.