More on Technology Critic Jacques Ellul

More on Technology Critic Jacques Ellul

July 23, 2012 10:57 am 0 comments

Doug Hill explains Ellul’s work on technique and its influence on Ted Kaczynski and (indirectly) Kevin Kelly:

So, what are Ellul’s ideas on technology? His most central point was that technology has to be seen systemically, as a unified entity, rather than as a disconnected series of individual machines. He also argued that technology is as much a state of mind as a material phenomenon, in part because human beings have been absorbed into the technological complex he called “technique.”

Ellul defined technique as “the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity.” While technique isn’t limited to machines, machines are “deeply symptomatic” of technique. They represent “the ideal toward which technique strives.”

These quotes hint at Ellul’s conviction that technique has become almost a living entity, a form of being that drives inexorably to overtake everything that isn’t technique, humans included. The belief that humans can no longer control the technologies they’ve unleashed – that technique has become autonomous – is also central to his thought. “Wherever a technical factor exists,” he said, “it results, almost inevitably, in mechanization: technique transforms everything it touches into a machine.”

Full Story: The Society Pages: The Unabomber’s Favorite Philosopher (and Mine)

Previously: Jacques Ellul, Technology Doomsdayer Before his Time

Compare and contrast with: The Discipline Of Do Easy

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