In and Out of Control: Self-Augmenting and Autonomous Technique
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Martin Heidegger and Jacques Ellul propounded substantivist accounts of technology which rejected the received instrumentalist view of technology according to which only the ends to which technologies are applied can be evaluated. In opposition to instrumentalism, they claimed that modern technology involves a displacement of non-technological values or (in Heidegger’s case) other ways of relating to Being. The theory of technical autonomy that Jacques Ellul sets out in The Technological Society is distinguished from Heidegger’s brand of substantivism, however, in providing a non-transcendental, naturalistic account of the conditions under which technique displaces non-technical values in modern societies. I show how Ellul’s theory resolves into two components – 1) a theory of the essence of technique given in terms of the notion of efficiency and 2) a theory of the conditions for autonomy - and set out some criticisms of Ellul’s essentialism by way of an analysis of the concept of efficiency. I argue that component (2) is incompatible with his essentialism because it is committed to techniques being replicable across different contexts of use. I then use Jacques Derrida’s notions of iterability and generalised writing to develop a theory of technical replicability which accounts for the historical particularity of techniques and for their mechanism-dependent replicability. I support this account of technical iteration by showing how it allows explanatory connections to be made between specific mechanisms of technical replication and the fragile cultural forms or phenomenologies they support. I then use it to reformulate Ellul’s theory without its essentialist commitments and claim that the background assumptions of the resultant theory are sufficiently weak to render it plausible. However, while this supports certain aspects of Ellul’s original thesis, I argue that the modified theory no longer implies a hegemonic role for technique. While technical process may be self-augmenting and uncontrollable (much as Ellul describes it) there are no grounds for claiming that it prescribes a particular set of values.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Alessandro Tomasi (2009). Technological Paradigm in Ancient Taoism. Techné 13 (3):190-205.
Gary Grant Gray, Perceptions of Jacques Ellul's Educational Technique in a Modern Career-Focused M.B.A. Program.
Miguel Quintanilla (1998). Técnica y cultura. Teorema 17 (3):49-69.
Kevin Healey (2011). The Role of Prophetic Critique in Clifford Christians's Philosophy of Technology. Journal of Mass Media Ethics 25 (2):121-138.
Daryl J. Wennemann (1991). Desacralization and the Disenchantment of the World. Philosophy and Theology 5 (3):237-249.
David Lovekin (1982). Giambattista Vico and Jacques Ellul: The Intelligible Universal and the Technical Phenomenon. [REVIEW] Man and World 15 (4):407-416.
Jacques Ellul (2010). Pt. II: Considering the Autonomy of Technology. The Autonomy of Technology. In Craig Hanks (ed.), Technology and Values: Essential Readings. Wiley-Blackwell.
Jim Gerrie (2008). Three Species of Technological Dependency. Techné 12 (3):184-194.
Jacques Ellul (1964). The Technological Society. New York, Knopf.
Iain Thomson (2000). What's Wrong with Being a Technological Essentialist? A Response to Feenberg. Inquiry 43 (4):429 – 444.
Vincent Punzo (1996). Jacques Ellul on the Technical System and the Challenge of Christian Hope. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 70:17-31.
Frédéric Rognon (2008). Ellul lecteur de Kierkegaard: La réception de l'œuvre kierkegaardienne dans la pensée de Jacques Ellul. Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 64 (2/4):1181 - 1206.
Hans Oberdiek (1990). Technology: Autonomous or Neutral. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 4 (1):67 – 77.
Andrew Feenberg (2000). Constructivism and Technology Critique: Replies to Critics. Inquiry 43 (2):225 – 237.
Philip Brey (2008). The Technological Construction of Social Power. Social Epistemology 22 (1):71 – 95.
Added to index2012-01-09
Total downloads72 ( #19,011 of 1,099,023 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #58,097 of 1,099,023 )
How can I increase my downloads?