Chapter 30 ~ “The ‘Vita Activa’ and the Modern Age” by Hannah Arendt September 17, 2009Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR.
Tags: 5369, Arendt, Carter, Philosopy of Technology, Technology, Theories of Technology
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In her essay, Arendt argues for a three-part division of human activities: labor, work, and action, in which (at least it seems this way from my reading) that action is the most important because it is “the only activity that goes on directly between men without the intermediary of things or matter, corresponds to the human condition of plurality, to the fact that men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world” (352). Arendt examines these parts within four realms: social, political, private, and public, and asserts that for the most part, action dwells within the public realm. Despite the hierarchical structure of these three parts (where action seems to be most important and work is the least important, Arendt does state that all three parts are intrinsically connected to birth and death.
As Arendt seems to move through her essay and discuss labor, work, and action, I couldn’t help but wonder how close Arendt’s thoughts are with other writers we’ve read thus far. On the one hand, humans seemed to once be full of contemplation, but over the years has moved more toward work and labor, their need to know more, to do more, which makes me wonder if humans are – once again – dependent on technology, especially the creation of it and in particular, the “art” of creating it. And just as I begin to believe this is the point, I get to page 357 and read the following: “It is a matter of historical record that modern technology has its origins not in the evolution of those tools man had always devised for the twofold purpose of easing his labors and erecting the human artifice, but exclusively in an altogether non-practical search for useless knowledge” (357).
So, is technology or the man’s creation of it for non-practical gains? What is considered “useless knowledge”? Can useless knowledge bring about practical gains?
First question ~ not sure. However, I know (though I can’t list) there has to be forms of technologies that were created through trial and error, through mistakes, through a “stumble into.” If that’s the case, perhaps those technologies had “no gains” in the beginning and became practical after their creation.
Second question ~ again, not sure. There is knowledge that isn’t applicable to certain situations; there is knowledge that doesn’t instantly become practical, but I don’t believe that knowledge to be useless.
Third question ~ definitely. I think asking, “What can we do with this information” can always aid us in finding practical uses for knowledge.
Tags: 5369, Carter, Habermas, Huxley, Philosopy of Technology, Technology, Theories of Technology
Chapter 44 ~ “Technical Progress and the Social Life-World” by Jürgen Habermas
From Jürgen Habermas, Toward a Rational Society: Student Protest, Science and Politics (1970)
Habermas uses Aldous Huxley’s Literature and Science, to examine the relationship between science and literature and how science fits within the social life-world.
Essentially, Huxley sees two separate cultures, that of literature and science.
Literature is private, subjective, and makes statements that can’t be repeated by others. Literature deals with the nuances of a person’s world – all the things that occur from the moment of birth to the time of death.
Science, on the other hand, is public, contains intersubjectively accessible experiences and can be expressed in a formal language that, through general definitions, can be made universally valid. Science doesn’t concern itself with the life-world as literature does. It is not based on culture or ego. It’s not about the ordinary language of social groups and socialized individuals. It looks at structures and regularities.
Through his separation of literature and science, Huxley juxtaposes the social life-world and the worldless universe of facts, and for Huxley, knowledge is the key to embed science and its information about the worldless universe into the life-world of social groups. Knowledge is power and because science is true and exact, it is the knowledge; therefore, it wields a lot of control and power over people. For Huxley, the world would be better if literature assimilated “scientific statements… so that science can take on ‘flesh and blood’” (530).
What Huxley fails to mention and Habermas does add is that the sciences enter the social life-world through the technical exploitation of their information.
For Habermas, only as technological knowledge (knowledge that would aid us in our power for technical control) can scientific knowledge infiltrate the action-orienting self-understanding of social groups.
[aside: But are social groups primarily action-oriented? Doesn’t that also include the need to understand things – whether you plan to do anything with the knowledge?]
When scientific knowledge is communicated as technological knowledge to the social life-world, it can become a “part of practical knowledge which gains expression in literature” (531).
Habermas adds that “only when information is exploited for the development of productive or destructive forces, can its revolutionary practical results penetrate the literary consciousness of the life-world: poems arise from consideration of Hiroshima and not from the elaboration of hypotheses about the transformation of mass into entergy” (531).
[aside: does how it (the scientific-now-turned-technological knowledge) makes the world work, how we as a society come to be, how we’re connection, disconnected come into play in this? Or would studies of that nature be more likely to be found within literature as opposed to science? The idea that we would only be concerned with information that answers the questions WHAT CAN IT HELP ME DO…and…HOW/WHAT CAN IT HELP ME DESTROY seems quite constricting.]
This brings us to a question posed by Habermas: “How is it possible to translate technically exploitable knowledge into the practical consciousness of a social life-world?”
[aside: Couldn’t help but to think of recent conversations – in and out of class – in which we were talking about The Matrix and Lost and other forms of popular culture. There is so much HEADY stuff that only a select few know through study and everybody might know or might not know. It’s important to be able to reach people where they are and provide understanding. These days, I’m having issues with words like “practical” because it seems like for the most part, they are used to mean “put to use,” as in ACTION. Is “understanding” a part of the practical consciousness, too? Sometimes, I want information merely to understand how the world works. I don’t plan to do anything with the knowledge, but understand it and open my eyes more to the world around me.]
This question sets Habermas to ask yet another question: “How can the relation between technical progress and the social life-world, which today is still clothed in a primitive, traditional, and unchosen form, be reflected upon and brought under the control of rational discussion?”
[aside: Considering it’s been nearly 40 years since the publication of this work, I wonder if we’re still clothed in a primitive, traditional, and unchosen form. And “unchosen” meaning what? We got what we were birthed with? We are what we are, what we are?]
And unlike before, where literature had to learn to infuse itself with science to become “flesh and blood,” now science must learned to integrate itself into a world in which “a rational discussion that is not focused exclusively either on technical means or on the application of traditional behavioral norms” are demanded (531).
It seems, in essence, that science has to make concession to literature and realize the world is more complex than knowledge and application.
This idea that scientific knowledge was a source of culture caused a separation between universities and technical schools because technical schools were not influenced by theoretical guidance.
Chapter 42~ “Three Ways of Being-With Technology” by Carl Mitcham September 13, 2009Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR.
Tags: 5369, Carter, Heidegger, Mitcham, Philosopy of Technology, Technology, Theories of Technology
Chapter 42~ “Three Ways of Being-With Technology” by Carl Mitcham
From “From Artifact to Habitat: Studies in the Critical Engagement of Technology” (1990)
Mitcham begins his essay by revealing a question to which there is no clear answer: in the relationship between humanity and technology, which is primary?
Instead of falling into one of two camps on that issue – humanity controls technology or technology exerts “profound influences on the ways we live” (490) – Mitcham outlines three ways in which humanity is “being-with” technology.
Mitcham pauses to acknowledge Heidegger, who in his work Being and Time (1927), discussed the notion of “being-with.” However, whereas Heidegger sees “being-with” as “an immediate personal presence in technics,” Mitcham also sees social being-with activated through ideas, which can “become a language or logos of technics, a ‘technology’” (491).
Because it may not always be possible for people to articulate or even be aware of this idea of being-with technology (and as a result, they cast it aside), Mitcham offers a “grounding” of sorts by discussing his three ways in which humanity may be-with technology: ancient skepticism, Renaissance and Enlightenment optimism, and romantic ambiguity or uneasiness. By looking at these three ways, we can perhaps begin to see how difficult it is to “live with modern technology and its manifest problems” (491).
The thought that technology is bad but necessary or technology is necessary but dangerous; these thoughts manifest themselves in early Western philosophy. Bending to technology, according to ancient skepticism, could result in a person denouncing faith and nature, could sway a person from moderation (the first thing Socrates believed a man should possess), and could keep a person from transcendence because he would be “of the world.” Being-with technology then, during this time, was “an uneasy being-along-side-of and working-to-keep-at-arms-length” (494).
Major shift from ancient skepticism. Whereas in ancient skepticism, the burden of proof was on those who favored technology; in enlightenment optimism, the burden of proof is on those who oppose technology. The goodness found within technology, for this segment, seems to come from the notion that God has given us the OK to use technology and because of this, any misuse of the technology is an accident. Man, formed in the image and likeness of God, are meant to be creators; as such, it’s better “to pursue technological action, never mind the consequences. Art plays a major role in this “movement.” Technology is seen as a virtue because our action toward it stimulates human action and increases sociability, and it [technology] is truer than abstract theory.
Romanticism represents the first self-conscious questioning of modern technology. Its notion is “technological intention, that is the will to power, should not be pursued to the exclusion of other volitional options – or that it should be guided by aesthetic ideals” (498). Elements that constitute this period’s framing of technology include:
- Technology is an aspect of creativity, and at times, the use of it makes man move away from other endeavors
- Technology brings forth new material wealth, but tends to eliminate social affection
- Imagination and vision are more important than technology, scientific knowledge, and reason
- Artifacts [aside: the tools?] are part of the process and can reveal the sublime.
In the end, romanticism’s ambiguity and almost wishy-washiness toward technology has probably been its main hindrance and has hurt its ability “to take hold as truly viable way of life” (503)
Chapter 31 ~ “Doing and Making in a Democracy: Dewey’s Experience of Technology” by Larry Hickman September 7, 2009Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR.
Tags: 5369, Carter, Dewey, Hickman, Philosopy of Technology, Technology, Theories of Technology
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From “Philosophy of Technology” (1989)
This work of Hickman’s focuses on John Dewey and his thoughts on technology.
We first learn of Dewey’s thoughts of a mislocation of technology brought on by his philosophical predecessors, such as Aristotle and Plato, who had attempted to move technology from the hands of the artisan. The result of this was the “stunting of the growth of science and social inquiry as well” (371). Both Plato and Aristotle placed artisans in the “lowest rung of sociopolitical hierarchy” and Dewey believed part of the reason was their attitude toward the mutability found within technology.
In regards to the modern sciences, Dewey saw the actual “doing” by practitioners, but what he failed to see was any thought behind what the practitioners were doing. For him, there need to be the action as well as the understanding of the action.
Dewey had his critics.
Desmond Lee disagreed that the Greeks’ overall opinion of artisans hindered technological advancement and used 17th century England – with its technological growth and loathing of the artisans – as proof. For Lee, the Greeks were too busy being philosophers and tying science to philosophy instead of seeing that philosophy looked to understand and science looked to change. With Galileo, asserts Lee, we get the untying of science from philosophy. For Dewey, there must be both the understanding and the talk of change.
In analyzing the new science of the 17th century, Dewey noted that there was a gap “between what the new science said it was doing and what is was actually about” (371). A new spirit also followed the science as technology moved – during this time – into practical experimentalism. However, the metatheory – the understanding – did not move forward.
The metatheorists of this time, erroneously to Dewey, believed science was grounded in practice, “that is, in a transaction with the growing body of tools and artifacts that made the new science possible” (371). Contemporary theorists, erroneously too, continue in this line of thinking. [aside, seeing threads connect with other readings – instrumentality; technology as a means to an end, a practice; disconnect between science and thought, the HOW and the WHY. It’s not a thing that just happened.]
What Dewey argued, and which became his most important contribution to the discussion of science and technology, was “inquiry into materials such as that practiced by Galileo precedes and conditions inquiry of a more conceptual variety. It also informs its methodology, and terminates its activity in further concrete application” (371). Just because a craftsman cannot articulate (or even conceptualize) his using of tools to create things does not mean that a methodological gap does not exist between the craftsman and the work. [aside, I think the two enterprises are the craftsman and the work.]
Dewey claimed that from the 17th century to the 19th centuries, philosophy failed to properly locate technology because they were still tied to old ways of thinking, such as truth, demonstration, and certitude.
From here, Hickman discusses nature and the modern period’s and Dewey’s thoughts on it.
For the modern period, nature was a vast machine; Dewey rejected this notion.
Even removing the metaphor of world-as-machine, people grappled with how to discuss machines and their relationship to them We learn that a machine can be contemplated as…
— something finished, and its workings discovered and admired;
— something complete but in need of occasional repair; or
— something ongoing, unstable and provisional, as a tool which is utilized for enlarging transactions of self and society with environing conditions.
“Only with the third that there comes to be genuine transaction with nature, awareness of such transaction, and inclusion of that awareness in the metatheories of science” (372).
Here, democracy comes into view with the essay. During the modern period of science, the US was founded, and many of the founders and framers of the US’ democracy were themselves artisans, craftsmen. They were practitioners of a religious faith that saw God as artisan. To Thomas Jefferson, the establishing of government was an experiment, one in which modifications would be necessary for generations to come.
“For government, as for nature, contemplation had been replaced by examination, and that in turn by experimentation whose goal was constant attention to possibilities of adjustment and amelioration” (373).
In deciding where to locate technology, Dewey believed that the only place it could go was alongside science and social thought. In his view, technology shared qualities with science and social thought and also fostered qualities that could help them.
For Dewey, technology was more than just a means to an end, an instrument. It is, in part, “responsible for the prestige enjoyed by science” (374); it can also be “the buffer between the forces of anti-science and those of science” (375).
Tags: 5369, Carter, Heidegger, Mumford, Philosopy of Technology, Technology, Theories of Technology
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From “Myth of the Machine: Technics and Human Development” (1967)
Chapter One: Prologue
Mumford begins his prologue discussing how fast
Within a century, the world has transformed drastically, mostly due to the impact of the mathematical and physical sciences upon technology and our move from empirical, tradition-bound technics to an experimental mode.
These changes have altered the human personality, and if the world continues in the pace it’s going, more alterations loom ahead – From that “loom,” I sense a concern that this could happen from Mumford.
Mumford sees the change of man (in regards to his relation with technics) as one that has gone from primeval man who crafted tools and weapons in order to do things (achieve “mastery over the forces of nature”) to a man who has disconnected himself from his “organic habitat” (343).
This new “megatechnics” (which I’m assuming is man as master who is disconnected from nature) will lead to a new automatic world in which man will be “passive, purposeless, and machine-driven.”
Mumford’s purpose is to question the assumptions that arose due to the present (1967) notion that scientific and technical progress are treated as ends in themselves.
Before starting upon his purpose, he does state is disagreement with Marx (that material instruments of production are the central place of human development) and with Teilhard de Chardin who projects a future in which all the possibilities of human development will come to an end.
Mumford wants to start with insight into the historic nature of man, but it’s hard to do so because the history has been puffed up with the moral superiority and the lack of discussion regarding human limitations and technical possibilities [aside, a lot of our readings touch upon this idea]. He decides to review the stages of man’s emergence from its primal beginnings to the present.
Many issues arise for Mumford.
We wrongly place tools as a central part of man’s survival, and we tend to substitute tools and machines for technology.
We dismiss other vital components of technics, like the role of containers, and even fail to mention the other animals who have their own innovations in this regard. In fact, if we truly looks at man pre-Homo sapiens, he would not compare with other species if technical proficiency alone defined intelligence. Man as “tool-using animal” has skewed the path of human development.
For Mumford, “…there was nothing uniquely human in tool-making until it was modified by linguistic symbols, esthetic designs, and socially transmitted knowledge. At that point, the human brain, not just the hand, was what made a profound difference” (345).
What was uniquely human was man’s use of his body and “a brain capable of scanning a wider environment and holding all the different parts of his experience together” (346).
Mumford argues that with man’s overdeveloped and overactive brain, man was able to not only assist in his survival needs but also to use his body and his mind for more cultural outlets…a notion that some have disputed or argued against. [aside, What is wrong with being cultural? Seems like a lot of people want to place man in the same box that Heidegger talked about. If technology is the means to an end, then man is simply a tool that makes the technology work. He doesn’t have thoughts, beliefs, values, morals, rituals. He’s a machine that works machines to produce things.]
Mumford latches onto this thought of mind and culture as he asserts “that at every stage man’s inventions and transformations were less for the purpose of increasing the food supply or controlling nature than for utilizing his own immense organic resources and expressing his latent potentialities, in order to fulfill more adequately his superorganic demands and aspirations” (347).
Mumford introduces us to the “megamachine,” the men who collectively came together to perform tasks inconceivable of the time (and even now).
[aside, interesting to see Mumford move from “secured a corpselike obedience” (348) to megamachine’s ultimate products in Egypt (tombs, cemeteries, and mummies), to his question “If this association with inordinate power and productivity with equally inordinate violence and destruction a purely accidental one?” (349). My response, though pessimistic probably, would be no, it’s not an accident. Considering who ran the megamachine (men who derived their power and author from a cosmic sources with a “divine command and ruthless military coercion”) and how those within the machine were not truly men because they were “created” to be devoid of self and social aspects and to see their work as for the greater good, I could definitely see some violence and destruction being played out.]
And through this ritualistic work, the work began to replace “religious ritual as a means of coping with anxiety and promoting psychal stability in mass populations” (349-50). The repetitive work also seemed to work as a means of self-control. [aside, not surprised in the least. Can only imagine the urges, thoughts, fears, concerns, wants that percolated in the mind while doing such excruciating labor. To numb all the other human engines that couldn’t thrum, one – I’m assured – numbed those engines, controlled their urges and thoughts with the task at hand.]
Mumford jumps from early civilization back to the present and states, “This unconditional commitment to the Megamachine is now regarded by many as the main purpose of human existence” (350).
We are now, Mumford asserts, bound to reexamine the last several centuries to not only discuss the ideological foundations of the whole system, but also to “explain why the whole process of technical development has become increasingly coercive, totalitarian, and – in its direct human expression – compulsive and grimly irrational, indeed downright hostile to more spontaneous manifestations of life that cannot be fed into the machine” (350).
For if man’s manipulation and manufacturing of tools is the moment of his development, why are we now in a place where man has become an automaton and is the passive mover for the technology?
To bring balance to man, science, and technology; Mumford suggests a move toward a liberation from work. Man needs play and man needs serious responsible work. With “more educative, mind-forming, self-rewarding work, on a voluntary basis, the most salutary contribution of a life-centered technology” may be formed (351).
Chapter 23 ~ “The Question Concerning Technology” by Martin Heidegger September 6, 2009Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR.
Tags: 5369, Carter, Heidegger, Philosopy of Technology, Technology, Theories of Technology
NOTE: This is the longest response I’ve written thus far primarily because I struggled with this piece on so many levels. I read it twice and what you read below are the summarization of notes I took while reading; I did try to synthesize them so that they made sense. Must conclude with following statement: I’m still lost.
Heidegger asserts early on that by questioning technology, we create a free relationship to it; in order to obtain this free relationship, we need to pursue the essence of technology and not what is technological. When we see technology as “neutral,” we become blind to it; as such, through deep questioning and reflection, Heidegger sets upon a course that strives to answer the question how do we relate to technology: what do we think about it, how do we imagine it, how does it connect with our lives.
He first looks into defining technology to find its essence, “what” the thing is. In doing, we learn that two definitions prevail: technology is a means to an end and technology is human activity. Heidegger states these are one in the same because the “means” and the human activity are both human activity. As such, both a means and a human activity are called the “instrumental and anthropological definition of technology.”
Everything that we think about technology comes from its instrumentality; the instrumental condition of technology makes us hunger to master it, to wrangle it, to control it before it slips from human control.
From here, we are given a distinction between “truth” and “correctness.” Although it may be correct to define technology in this way, we still do not know what is “true” about technology, and it’s that truth will “brings us intil a free relationship with that which concerns us from its essence” (253).
We must seek the true (the essence) by way of the correct (what it is).
For Heidegger, this means understanding the term “instrumental,” which leads him into a discussion on the question of causality.
This brings Heidegger into a discussion that defines “means” and ties it to the question of causality, which springs forth a whole new discussion on what does it mean to say “cause”? Short answer: responsibility and indebtedness. But it’s important to note that Heidegger wants us to look at these words through an earlier lens. A lot of his essay hearkens back to earlier time, as if we as a culture has lost the basic ideas and tenets of that time, making life and our world more complex and tedious and exhaustion when perhaps we really didn’t have to.
In taking the four causes from philosophical doctrine and fashioning them into ways of being responsible, Heidegger seems to move us away from a notion that I’m sure a lot of people have had in regards to technology: we are the creator, the center to which is all comes into being. By looking through Heidegger’s lens of responsibility, we seem to become assistants as opposed to creators.
In essence, our roles as assistants help bring-forth a thing and unconceal it, which makes way for revealing.
He uses the example of the chalice to show us this transformation. Several components, from the silversmith to the silver itself, assist in the bringing-forth of the chalice, in the unconcealment and revealing of it as a chalice.
From this point, I take from this that Heidegger is creating a new way to look at technology. There is instrumentality, but there can be something else.
To get to that something else, Heidegger returns to the word we’ve been separated from for a while: technology.
We learn that “technology” derives from the concept “techne,” from which he reveals to things: techne refers to both manufacturing and to the arts, and the word “episteme” is connected to it.
Having stated this, Heidegger states that “techne” is a kind of knowing that goes beyond just human activity and getting things done.
If technology derives from techne, then technology, too, moves beyond instrumentality.
Hence, technology become a way of revealing.
And the revealing that finds its way into modern technology is one of a “challenging.”
Here, Heidegger illustrates a comparison between older forms of technology and modern technology. In older forms, nature was used but not taken and stored for future use; however, in modern technology, we – in essence – pillage our natural resources, not to use just for today, but to store. Everything in the modern world becomes a “standing-reserve,” meaning everything is – actually to go back to instrumentality – a means to an end. As Heidegger states, an airplane is not seen solely as an airplane but as a means to travel.
And because we seem to be stuck in viewing technology as an instrumentality, not only is the technology a standing reserve, but also we become standing reserves as well because everything – including us – is working and moving and doing toward a particular “end.”
As such, nothing controls anything, but humans lose a lot of their freedom because they do not see the errs of their ways.
So, now, humans have seen technology as a means to an end and because we are on this course, we aren’t free, and we actually believe we have “master” nature and technology.
To Heidegger, this is a part of “enframing,” in which we compartmentalize our notions of things into neat little boxes of understanding. And by placing everything in these boxes, we are able to “master” it.
To create that free relationship to technology, humans must open themselves to the essence of technology. If we don’t open ourselves and embrace technology’s essence, then we can potentially become like those things we claim to master: “standing reserve.” And that if our beliefs and our actions continue to spiral out of control, we will become blind to everything around us, a notion Heidegger stated at the beginning of his essay.
Heidegger doesn’t offer just a fatalistic view, however. He does state that we can realize that we are – like technology, like the world in general – in a moment of revealing, and as such, we are not creators and controllers of nature or of technology.
Chapter 22 ~ “Social Constructivism: Opening the Black Box and Finding It Empty” by Langdon Winner September 2, 2009Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR.
Tags: 5369, Carter, Philosopy of Technology, Technology, Theories of Technology, Winner
You get a sense that Winner, overall, isn’t too big of a fan of social constructivism. Although his article does offer points where social constructivism shines, a large portion of his article criticizes the use of social constructivism as a means to do philosophical studies on technology.
Winner begins his article posing several questions about philosophers: what do they need to know about technology, what kind of knowledge do they need to know, and how much knowledge. He suggests, perhaps, one could dedicate all her focus on a specific field, becoming an expert, but this would be too limiting. He suggests one could study different types of technology within a scholarly mode, “drawing upon existing histories and contemporary social studies of technological change as one’s base of understanding.”
He poses yet another question: “Where does one go to learn what one needs to know to write confidently about philosophy and technology?”
The importance of location comes up in his essay, location whether it be in the mind or in actual location. He mentions feminist writers who gave attention to the home, the office, and the hospital.
These musings, questions draws Winner into his praises of social constructivism. A major aim of social constructivism is to look at the reality of technology and its history; “we need to look very closely at the artefacts and varieties of technical knowledge in question and at the social actors whose activities affect their development” (234). Winner agrees with social constructivists that “to find more precise, detailed descriptions and explanations of the dynamics of technical change is a goal well worth pursuing” (235).
In addition to this, Winner also sees positives in social constructivism’s “calling into question the sometimes highly arbitrary distinctions between the social sphere and the technical sphere” and that they have helped “debunk the idea that new technologies spring full-born from the work of ‘great men’,” something that is touched upon in Pinch and Bijker’s work, too (236).
Despite these positive traits, Winner does see problems with social constructivism, particularly in its narrow perspective. To him, social constructivism “disregards important questions about technology and human experience, questions very much alive in other theoretical approaches” (237). Four main issues arise for Winner: 1) total disregard for the social consequences of technical choice, 2) social constructivists’ favored conception of social process, 3) its disregard of “the possibility that there may be dynamics evident in technological change behind those revealed by studying the immediate needs, interests, problems, and solutions of specific groups and social actors” (238), and 4) lack of anything resembling an evaluative stance or anything in regards to moral and political implications that could help people judge the technology.
Although social constructivists have opened the black box, for Winner, not only is the box empty, but social constructivists fail to provide any “general position on the social and technological patterns under study” (241).
Chapter 21 ~ “The Social Construction of Facts and Artifacts” by Trevor J. Pinch and Wiebe E. Bijker September 2, 2009Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR.
Tags: 5369, Bijker, Carter, Philosopy of Technology, Pinch, Technology, Theories of Technology
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Pinch and Bijker contend that the study of science and the study of technology can benefit from each other, and one way to do this is through social constructivism.
First, Pinch and Bijker outline three bodies of literature in science and technology studies: sociology of science, the science-technology relationship, and technology studies.
In regards to the sociology of science, they primarily looks at the emergence of sociology of scientific knowledge, in which “the actual content of scientific ideas, theories, and experiments” (221) are the subject of analysis – far removed from previous studies that regarded “science as an institution” (221). With this lens, researchers can “understand the processes of the construction of scientific knowledge in a variety of locations and contexts” (222).
Looking at the science-technology relationship, Pinch and Bijker note the attempt to separate technology and science on analytical grounds, something that seems to be an ongoing theme. I have read several times about science being about the discovery of truth and technology being the application of truth, in essence, becoming second to the powerful science. But what the authors realize, and I agree, is that it’s nearly impossible to separate technology and science.
Several points are made in their discussion on technology studies; one point they made I found very interesting was that studies seemed to show a linear, progressive, successive growth with technological devices as opposed to showing the failures as well. By doing this, I would think the outcomes would make people believe that 1) all technological advances are successful (and solely because of the innovator) and 2) there’s no need to explore failures in order to make things better.
Pinch and Bijker finish their essay but exploring the two methods they wish to employ: Empirical Programme of Relativism (EPOR) and Social Construction of Technology (SCOT).
EPOR, which is particularly conducive to the study of scientific controversies, has three aims: 1) interpretive flexibility, 2) describing of social mechanisms that limit interpretative flexibility, and 3) relating “closure mechanisms” to the wider social-cultural milieu.
SCOT, though not as established as EPOR, seems to break away from other traditions to examine the technological artifact in a non-linear way, thus becoming a multidirectional model.
In the end, for Pinch and Bijker, I can see that social construction is an important computer to their vision of studying technology. Situations and people do influence “norms and values,” do help to construct meanings to things. Why would we think any differently about technology?
Chapter 20 ~ “A Philosophical-Anthropological Perspective on Technology” by Arnold Gehlen August 31, 2009Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR.
Tags: 5369, Carter, Gehlen, Philosopy of Technology, Technology, Theories of Technology
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“…the necessity for technology derives man’s organ deficiencies.”
In the beginning of Arnold Gehlen’s article, Gehlen expresses the notion that to live, man needs to build an environment that is suitable for his survival. Because of this, technology becomes not only the tools used to build said environment, but also the skills needed to create the tools.
Using Kapp’s concept of “organ projection,” Gehlen moves next to illustrate how we then interpret the tools man uses; there are three types:
–Organic substitution or replacement
–Organic strengthening or improvement.
Like others we’ve read for week one, Gehlen points to a shift that occurred in the 18th century between tools and man’s purpose in using said tools. Pre-18th century, tools were a means to an end. Post-18th century, tools become part of the building of an abstract reality for man.
This article does, like other readings before it, makes me think of human freedom and ethics. In discussing technological development to date, he uses a law formulated by Hermann Schmidt, in which Schmidt sees the “objectification of human” work as a process that passes through three phases that concludes with the intellectual contribution of the subject (man) being dispensed with by technological means.
Are we at a place where we no longer control technology?
If there’s still hope to control it and to find some form of moral ground to do so, how do we go about controlling it?
Are we truly free living in a technological world in which we seem to be spiraling with loose footing?
I don’t know.
Chapter 19 ~ “What is Technology” by Stephen J. Kline August 31, 2009Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR.
Tags: 5369, Carter, Kline, Philosopy of Technology, Technology, Theories of Technology
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Anything thing, action, process, method, and system can be slapped with the word “technology.” The term is even used symbolically for working procedures, and according to Stephen J. Kline, this kind of defining not only brings chaos to technology, but it also keeps us from three important views: 1) how we understand innovation, 2) how we can communicate across Snow’s culture gap, and 3) how we understand the way in which we humans make our living on the planet.
In order to define “technology,” Kline suggests we classify it into its usages and then label the usages so that we have a solid, common framework to begin discussions. In his classifying, Kline comes up with four usages:
1) Hardware (or Artifacts) – those things made by man and that do not occur naturally on earth
2) Sociotechnical System of Manufacture – those things (illustrated as a system), to include manufacturing equipment and people, used to manufacture a hardware (or artifact, like bicycles or blue jeans)
3) Information, Skills, Processes, and Procedures for Accomplishing Tasks – the knowledge, technique, know-how, or methodology
These first three represent what we commonly know as “technology”; however, the fourth usage is important in “understanding human implications of technology in ways intended by much public discussion.”
4) A Sociotechnical System of Use – these systems “form the basis of what we do with the hardware after we have manufactured it.” These systems, with the use of hardware and people, complete tasks that would be impossible for man to do without the system.
Without number 4, there would be no need to make hardware.
Thus, Kline argues that “sociotechnical systems of manufacture and sociotechnical systems of use form the physical bases of all human societies past and present.” This notion would seem to debunk those scholars, researches, etc. who pin these advancements on the “high-tech age.” For Kline, all of our existence has been a part of technology.