For the most part, philosophers and technologists
have not been on speaking terms with one another. Since ancient Greek
times, philosophy has favored contemplation and action over production or
technical know-how. In the period of the Renaissance and for a while
thereafter, there was some attempt by philosophers and scientists to come
together. But, as later philosophers turned to questions of epistemology
or theory of knowledge, ethics or theory of moral judgment, metaphysics
or theory of ultimate reality, and other speculative issues, the old prejudice
against productive knowledge re-emerged. There was some justification
for this critique, however, since technologists were often guilty of not
reflecting on the consequences of their technologies. Their joy at
discovering and inventing new techniques often blinded them to the often
catastrophic side-effects of their work. The carnage of
human beings devoured in wars waged with terrible devices, the lost lives
of factory laborers who felt like so many industrial wheels and pulleys,
and the eclipse of more profound types of human reflection by a technical
pursuit of efficiency were but some of these effects. For this reason,
many existential or humanist philosophers, such as Martin Heidegger and
Jacques Ellul, joined a chorus of anti-technology thinkers, artists, and
writers. However worthwhile and justified these attacks were and still
are, it must be said that they often reflected the old prejudice of contemplators
against producers. People do not like and often fear what they do
not understand. Wholesale attacks against technology (as a monolith)
and rationalized fears of technical devices (technophobia) do not serve
philosophers well, especially since they benefit daily from the very technologies
they abuse. On the other hand, technologists, who wince at the thought
of asking deeper questions about techniques they seek to multiply almost
without end, are not well served by their unwillingness to "examine the
unexamined." All of this quarreling seems unreasonable to me.
One objective of this course will be to bridge the gap between those who
love to think and those who love to make. The search for common ground,
through sympathetic analysis of many points of view, will be the "single
thread" that holds this preliminary and evolving course together.
It is hoped that this course, where some assembly is required, with the
help of cooperative attempts to understand the truth, will make students
and teacher alike richer in knowledge and wiser in action. This philosopher,
for one, intends to come to a greater appreciation of the technological.
Without being sure how the bridge will turn out, we will build together.
Some themes we will explore in our reading, discussion, and student
|The Meaning of Technology
||Technology and Community
|The Meaning of Culture
||Technology and Education
|Techne in the Ancient World
||Technology and Religion
|Craft and Craftsmanship
||Technology, War, and Politics
|Industry and Production
||Technology and Democracy
|The Information Age
||Technology and Philosophy
|Technology, Work, and Leisure
|Technology, Art, and Music
|Technology and Health
|Technology and the Environment
||The Virtual Neighborhood
|Technology and Communication
||Democracy and the Internet
|Technology and Human Nature
||The New Mind
In general, you will be expected to --
Grading for this course will be broken down into
the following categories, with their corresponding values (tentative):
- acquire an email account (if you don't already
- have access to a computer with a connection
to the Internet,
- know how to use a web browser,
- read all of the assigned
- attend class almost
all of the time,
- complete your project
in a timely manner,
- participate in email discussion,
- do well on tests and quizzes,
- smile and help all the rest of us to do
- Class Presentation of Project -- 10%
- Written Version of Project -- 25%
- Finalization of Web Version of Project --
- Email Discussions -- 20%
- Tests and Quizzes -- 30%
- Participation -- 10%
- Basic Attendance
Readings will be in print and online:
Whenever possible, I will try to post in advance
outlines, summaries, or review questions of the material of the next class.
This will appear as a link along with the readings for that class.
- William B. Thompson, Controlling Technology
(Prometheus Books, 1991)
- All online texts indicated on the course
calendar. This calendar will be updated and revised frequently,
so be sure to look at it whenever you are preparing for the next class.
This will include online texts chosen by students in connection with
their oral presentations.
- Any periodical articles that I put on reserve
in the library.
- All paper handouts. I'll try to keep
most of this to a minimum.
I can't stress enough the importance of participation.
Your "input" is extremely valuable.
Attendance will be mandatory in this class, since so much emphasis will
be placed on day-to-day work and participation.
This is the single most important work you will
be doing this semester. You will be researching, orally presenting,
and eventually publishing to the World Wide Web, your account of some specific
issue dealing with the relation between technology and culture. The
purposes of this assignment will be --
Here are the guidelines:
- to increase your understanding of a specific
problem in philosophy and technology
- to improve your library and online research
- to develop your writing skills
- to gain confidence in oral reporting
- and to learn how to publish your own page
on the World Wide Web.
You may be as creative as you wish in your construction
of your Web page. You may use graphics and other enhancements.
For those of you who have experience in authoring Web pages, this will probably
present no problems. For others of you who have never done anything
like this before, I will do considerable "hand-holding" and help you get
set up with templates (ready-made pages you can just type your report into)
and everything else you need to make an attractive page. You may use
any html authoring program you wish, but I would especially recommend two
simple and free (for personal use) software programs: Dida
(the freeware version of DidaPro, which is shareware) and Arachnophilia
(Careware). Also, if you already have some understanding of HTML,
you might want to use Netscape's Composer (Editor), which comes with Netscape.
In addition, you might have access to Adobe Pagemill, MS Front Page, or
Front Page Express (free version), AOL Press, or any one of a number of
excellent programs. I will introduce you to some of these programs
as time permits.
- You may choose your topic from the list
of proposed topics below, or you
may develop your own topic. You will be expected to meet with
me to discuss what you would like to do and how best to go about doing
it. We will also work out together the scheduling of your in-class
presentation. This consultation should take place before the deadline
for choosing topics.
- Bibliographies must be submitted by the
date indicated on the calendar. These should include both print
and online sources. Be sure to give the full URL or Internet address
for each online source. Also, indicate with an asterisk those
online sources which will be most useful for the class to read in advance
of your presentation.
- You will be expected to draw up a short
outline or summary of the main points of your presentation, so that
I can post it online or make print copies for the class. You should
meet with me in advance of your presentation, so that I can post required
readings and duplicate outlines, summaries, etc.
- You will present your report as scheduled
on the course calendar. Your presentation may include short multimedia
clips such as videotapes or computer slide-shows (MS Powerpoint or Corel
Presentations). However, this use of multimedia should not overshadow
your oral presentation. Individuals should make their presentations
short (no more than ten or fifteen minutes) and should leave time for
class questions and discussion.
- The next stage of this process will be writing
your final essay. The body of your work (apart from endnotes and
bibliography) should be no less than eight pages and no more than twelve
pages double-spaced. Do not use quotations from your sources;
rather, do your own thinking and put the matters in your own words.
If you are closely paraphrasing from a text, relying heavily on what
someone else has said, or simply describing the thrust of an author's
argument, make it plain where the idea came from and be sure to provide
an endnote that properly references the author's work. Remember
that your final work will be made available to the whole world on the
Internet. We might even hear from some of the authors you have
- The final stage will be to combine your
essay and your bibliography and to format them for publishing on the
Internet. The body of your essay will have to be single-spaced
(four to six pages) and will be followed by endnotes and bibliography.
You will be expected to create and verify links for your online sources.
This final HTML (Web) document should be submitted to me on disk in
MS-DOS format. Ideally, it should be submitted to me as soon as
possible after your oral presentation, so that together we can go over
any changes in content or style that have to be made. In
the end, your published work will be available for everyone to use and
Automobiles and Society
Gene Technology, Human Nature, and Society
Technology and the Visual Arts
Technology and Music
Technology and Literary Art
Electronic Texts, Print Publications,
and Human Communication
Human Nature, and Society
and Human Thinking
Industrial Technology and the Environment
The Year 2000 Problem
Technology and the Environment
Technology, Medicine, and Medical Care
Technology and War
Technology, Human Rights, and Privacy
Technology and Education
Technophobia and Technophilia
Reality, Human Nature, and Human Society
Internet, Politics, and Democracy
Technology and Law
Technology and Labor
Technology and Women
After each class discussion (beginning with the
third class meeting of the semester), you will be expected to email me ()
a short response with comments and questions about the issues we have talked
about that day (some topics will be assigned). Try to use a few good
paragraphs to reflect upon and grapple with some of the important problems
raised. I will selectively respond to many of your contributions and,
hopefully, heap praise upon your effort and add some ideas to those you
have been able to come up with. We will post many of these messages
online, so that students can respond to other students' comments.
I will post my own comments alongside yours. If you do not have access
to a reliable email account at Loyola, you might find it useful to use one
of the many free email services on the World Wide Web, e.g., Hotmail, Yahoo,
Tests will include a mid-term, a final, and a number
of short quizzes.
Go to Course Calendar
Bibliography and Online Resources
Direct inquiries and comments to:
Copyright © 1998 - 2000 Gordon
This page last updated 10/14/12
Please note: These philosophical commentaries,
though still in process, are the intellectual property of Gordon L.
Ziniewicz. They may be downloaded and freely distributed in electronic
form only, provided no alterations are made to the original text.
One print copy may be made for personal use, but further reproduction
and distribution of printed copies are prohibited without the permission
of the author.