Technology is usually understood as having a primarily practical concern with altering the world, while science has a cognitive concern with knowing it.(see tech philos) In this sense, technology is more a "knowing how" than a "knowing that." (following the distinction made by Gilbert Ryle.)
But technology is not "applied science." Practices often come before formalization in science. Contemporary historical revision suggests that "science owes more to the steam engine than the steam engine owes to science." (Rachel Laudan, ed. The Nature of Technological Knowledge, p.9) The science of thermodynamics developed by Sadi Carnot arose as an interpretation of the work cycle performed by the invention of the steam engine, as developed by Newcomen, Watt, and Trevithick.
Martin Heidegger suggested a similar inversion of the science-technology relation when he claimed that: "Because the essence of modern technology lies in enframing, modern technology must employ physical science. Through so doing the deceptive illusion arises that modern technology is applied science." See tool.
A primary theme in discussing technology would be that the separation between knowing and altering is not clear-cut. (cf. control) Francis Bacon suggested that science should both intervene and represent. (see Ian Hacking)
A more balanced but narrower account of science as both theoretical and experimental deals with the technologies (eg. instruments) of science. This focus on the instruments describes the basis for a move away from unmediated perception in the development of a paradigm of technologically mediated science, that recognizes the role of scientific instruments to enhance perception and constitute new perceptual objects.
For the Greeks, techné was a practical rationality governed by a conscious goal. (see instrumentality ) Michel Foucault calls a techné a "practice" or a savoir-faire , that by taking general principles into account would guide action in its time, according to its context, and in view of its ends. Plato distinguished between two types of techne : one that consisted mainly of physical work and another that was closely associated with speech. Thus the use of technology to refer to literary and social practices stresses that they are knowledge-producing tools. (see Carl Mitcham, in Bugliarello and Doner, History and Philosophy of Technology, pp 172-5) In this sense, one can talk of material technologies, literary technologies, and social technologies. One very important dimension of social technologies is their reproducibility. Bureaucracies, discourses, disciplines, etc. all serve to enable this automatic reproducibility. Is it accurate to speak of "knowledge technologies?" (as opposed to information technologies) Would one have to draw the line at "truth-technologies"?
Daniel Bell uses Harvey Brooks' definition of technology as "the use of scientific knowledge to specify ways of doing things in a reproducible manner." (in The Coming of Post-Industrial Society) Bell sees the novel and central feature of post-industrial society as the codification of theoretical knowledge and the new relation of science to technology. He describes the new "post-industrial" society" as run by "intellectual technology" (based on mathematics and linguistics) which uses algorithms (decision rules), programming (software), and models and simulations. (Forward 1999, p. xvii.) Bell demurs at speaking of "knowledge technologies", because he believes that knowledge is a form of judgement. Manuell Castells describes the new " informational mode of development" as resulting from the rise of the informational paradigm and its convergence with capitalist restructuring. For Castells, it is not enough to call the new informational mode of development "post-industrial." This does not do justice to the new historic era, and would be like calling industrial society "post-agrarian."
Does "technology" refer to an autonomous phenomenon with its own dynamic, what the Futurists described as "an unhaltable trend to constantly accelerating change," or does it refer rather to an ensemble of instruments wholly subservient to human will and needs? In other words, can technology be controlled, or has it become autonomous and out of control? And if it is controllable, how, and under what authority? (see Langdon Winner)
The issue of the control of technology can be framed by Freudian theories of the instincts, such as those developed in Civilization and its Discontents. For Freud, the evolution of civilization presents the struggle between Eros and Death, between the instinct of life and the instinct of destruction, as it works itself out in the human species. (p. 69) Thus, "the diversion of primary destructiveness from the ego to the external world feeds technological progress, and the use of the death instinct for the formation of the superego achieves the punitive submission of the pleasure ego to the reality principle and assures civilized morality." (Marcuse, Eros and Civilization, p.52)
For technology as an extension of the body, see body image, prosthesis, and tool. see also embodiment
"Technology abstracts from the manifold connections that things, events, processes, and actions have to historically shaped and culturally specified forms of life, and views them only under the aspect of their utility."Human creations that alter or manage what is construed to be the natural environment are defined as instrumental.
We should distinguish technology from technics, and technics from techniques. Technics refers to any human activity employing artifacts to attain some result within the environment. It is essentially specialization. Technics is the general object of a history of techniques. Is all investigation and knowledge technical? Technology becomes a techno-logy that would constitute a theory of the evolution of technics. Marx outlined a new perspective of this kind.
Heidegger distinguishes techné / poesis from instrumental technology. Both Marcuse and Ellul equated technology with calculative, "rational" techniques which dominate both culture and nature. For Ellul, " technique transforms everything it touches into a machine." (The Technological Society, p.4). and "has become the new and specific milieu in which man is required to exist." (p.10) (see also geometry)
Relation of technology to culture:
Technology has been associated with universality. Modernization has been equated with Westernization. The "Western Projet" (initially linked to geopolitics but now synonymous with ideology) led the West to develop a techné in relation to instrumentality that takes over, arrests, or enframes what it desires to manipulate or contain. (this is Heidegger's Gestell -- the global development of modern technics, and, as such, the completion of metaphysics) This enframing finds it expression in the modern Bestand, "standing reserve" or "resource well" (versus the originary relation of techné to Poesis as bringing forth, revelation, truth, being, or essence)For Heidegger, in "The Question Concerning Technology," The essence of technology is not technological. It is always historically informed not only by its materiality, but also by it political, economic, and social context, and thus always both co-constitutes and expresses cultural values. Technology is never merely "used," never merely instrumental. It is always " incorporated" and "lived."
Western technological change can be described as a " feedback loop" between society and technology, each driving the other, to produce what Deleuze and Guattari call assemblages, or machinic phyla. A very different relation occured in China, where technological inventions, such as clocks, gunpowder etc. were not part of an overall project (of domination) In Marxian analyses, the means of production (eg Capitalism or Statism) are distinguished from the means of development. (eg agrarian, industrial, or informational) (see Manuel Castells, for example) While modes of development have their own logic, they are historically subordinated to social relationships of production, experience, and power. For Marx, the speeding up of technological progress is part of the "laws of motion" of the capitalist mode of production. Thus the greatest invention of the nineteenth century was the invention of the method of invention. The process of technological change became quick, conscious, and expected.
According to Wolfgang Schivelbusch, "Technology is an expression of external domination: by means of technological constructs (machines) nature's powers and materials become disciplined to produce cultural. i.e.economic achievements. The social rules are constructs designed to serve internal domination: they structure the individual in such a way that he fits into the social context and performs constructively within it."(pp 168-9)In this sense, critical thought can address technology as a wide-range of practices of domination -- including technologies of writing, technologies of the self, (se e subject) and technologies of gender. (ref. Teresa de Lauretis)
(The interchangibilities of the metaphors of machine and organism, depending on the values attached, can be seen in G.E. Stahl's descriptions, in 1706, of an unharnessed river as a mechanism and one mastered by human industry as an organism. Stahl, an early contributor to the revival of vitalism in the eighteenth century, sees the mechanical as subject to chance as opposed to the organic, which is organized.)
What is relation between technology and war?
Warfare has been the most fertile area for technologically deterministic accounts, a famous example being Lynn White's account of the stirrup in Medieval Technology and Social Change. White describes the introduction of the stirrup in the eighth century as enabling "shock warfare" that uses the inertia of both rider and horse to inflict wounds, rather than weapons wielded by the unstable rider unable to transfer forces back to the horse. According to White, it was Charles Martel's genius to recognise the potential of the stirrup and to promote a warrior class, able to engage in this expensive form of warfare, using lands confiscated from the church. Thus the stirrup appears to be the key to explaining Feudalism.
White's account is not completely deterministic, for he claims that "a new device merely opens a door; it does not compel one to enter." (p28) Still, his primary explanation of Feudalism and the knightly class, is directly linked to the introduction of the stirrup, and the Norman conquest of Britain at the battle of Hastings a direct result of the fact that although the Anglo-Saxons were aquainted with the stirrup, they had not sufficiently transformed their methods of warfare in terms of it. (p36) The cultural forms and patterns of thought of feudal Europe are in harmony with the style of mounted warfare, and as White points out, "It is impossible to be chivalrous without a horse." "The man on horseback, as we have known him in the past millenium, was made possible by the stirrup, which joined man and steed in a fighting organism. Antiquity imagined the centaur; the early Middle Ages made him master of Europe."
(According to Daniel Bell, it is increasingly difficult to understand technological change in terms of single, major innovations, and it is even more difficult to trace the multiple effects. "It is clearly quite different to trace the effects, say, of the plough on medieval agriculture or the stirrup on war than the interacting ways that automobiles, trucks, railroads, ships, and airplanes change a transportation system." (The Coming of Post-Industrial Society, Foreward 1999, p. xxxiii, n.)
For Mumford, the army is the standard model of the megamachine.
Technology and Time:
"In its attempt to subdue time's flux by harnassing the future predictably and reliably to the present," (technology)" tends to 'domesticate' our experience of time." (L. C. Simpson, Technology, Time and the Conversations of Modernity, p.9)For Marshall McLuhan "the 'message' of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs." Does technology as enable becoming? cf. Prigogine / Stenger, D+G etc.
For Marx, "Production not only creates an object for the subject but also a subject for the object." (Grundisse, p.92)
"There may be a "knowledge" of the body that is not exactly the science of its functioning, and a mastery of its forces, that is more the ability to conquer them: this knowledge and this mastery constitute what might be called the political technology of the body."(eg. punishment)."What apparatuses and institutions operate is, in a sense, a micro-physics of power." (Foucault, Discipline and Punish, p 26) "The history of this "Microphysics" would then be a genealogy or an element in a genealogy of the modern "soul." Foucault also refers to the technologies of the self as " biopower" -- the power of normativity over the living organism.
Is it important to make a distinction between embodied technologies, that are isomorphic with perception, and hermeneutic technologies, which are specialized as "readings"? How much can we learn from Nietzche's typewriter? (or from William Gibson's?)Processes of interiorization both of social rules, (eg Norbert Elias' study of The Civilizing Process) and of technologically caused stimuli. (Simmel, "The Metropolis and Mental Life")
Reyner Banham: "It may well be that what we have hitherto understood as architecture and what we are beginning to understand as technology are incompatible disciplines. The architect who proposes to run with technology knows now that he will be in fast company, and that, in order to keep up, he may have to emulate the Futurists and discard his whole cultural load , (italics added) including the professional garments by which he is recognised as an architect. If, on the other hand, he decides not to do this, he may find that a technological culture has decided to go on without him." (Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, pp 329-330)
Technology as a mode of thinking that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. becomes autocatalytic. This is perhaps a disavowal of the will-to-power that gives rise to technologies, an espression of the essential ambiguity of technology in use. (see prosthetic)