What is the relation between understanding and control? Ever since Francis Bacon set out the project of Western science, knowledge and power have been joined at the hip.
Conrad Waddington describes science as the joining of the control of the material existence which was at first the province of the technician or craftsman, and the understanding of the philosopher. (The Nature of Life, p.13) The bulk of Michel Foucault's work concerned the relationship between "savoir" and "pouvoir."
Control is one of the benefits of the epistemological and technological benefits of the scientific paradigm. Yet is knowledge always control? For Norbert Wiener, the theoretician of cybernetics, "the present time is the age of communication and control."
In Lived Time, Eugène Minkowski described two attitudes towards the future: activity and expectation. In the mode of activity the individual goes towards the future in control of events, while in the mode of expectation the future comes toward the individual. These two contrasting modes were taken up by Walter Lippman in 1914, who contrasted Drift and Mastery.
Activity as opposed to passivity, mastery over drift, all these characteristics can be described as "the masculine style of control and manipulation." For feminist critics, central to the notion of masculinity is its rejection of everything that is defined by a culture as feminine and its legitimated control of whatever counts as the feminine. (Harding, p.55) What it means to be a man is, in part, to share in masculine control of women.
Active control also characterize the technological society of the west as what Lewis Mumford called the megamachine. For Mumford, The secret of mechanical control was to have a single mind with a well-defined aim at the head of the organization, and a method of passing messages... (to)the smallest unit.
For Freud, the control of objects and of nature is an expression of the instinct of destruction, or death instinct. Its expression is accompanied by a high degree of narcissistic enjoyment, as it presents the ego with a fulfillment of the latter's old wishes for omnipotence. (Civilization and its Discontents, p. 68) (see also superego as an agency of self-control.
Who is to control whom in regards to which aspects of life? (cf biopower and societies of contol.) see also top down / bottom up for the praise of "fast, cheap, and out of control." Both the praise and the blame heaped upon globalization is that it is out of control. See also discussions of technology as out of control.