Technology has become a major force in our culture and economy. It is used by most of us every day. From our smartphones to television sets, technology is a key tool in communicating, entertainment, and advertisements. The Internet allows people to exchange information around the world, and it has also revolutionized the way Americans receive news.
For a long time, philosophical reflection on technology was dominated by the critical stance. Many representatives of the critical stance were schooled in the humanities and had little experience in engineering practice.
A nascent interest in the philosophy of technology emerged during the Renaissance. This was driven in part by the increasing appreciation of human creative efforts.
The era of the industrial revolution saw great advances in technology. Some of the earliest examples of these innovations include the wheel and the printing press. However, this progress was slow.
By the late nineteenth century, philosophers of technology had largely shifted from the critical stance to a more neutral perspective. During this time, the concept of ‘technology’ was not necessarily synonymous with’science’.
Until recently, there was little in the way of comprehensive works on the philosophical aspects of technology. As a result, these discussions have been scattered across the literature.
One of the earliest sources for a more comprehensive look at the subject is Heraclitus. His writings provide a historical overview of appreciations of technology.
Another early contribution to the discussion is Aristotle’s doctrine of the four causes. He wrote in Physics II.2, “In this regard, a useful technology is a tool that can be made to do something that is not possible with the natural tools.”
Throughout history, there have been many technologies that have made our lives more convenient, as well as some that have hurt us. From the invention of the wheel to the introduction of nuclear weapons, technology has had a hand in shaping the world.