Philosophy of Technology


Generally speaking, technology is a process that uses knowledge and math to reach a specific practical goal. However, the term can also refer to the products of such an endeavor.

The first known testimony on the philosophy of technology comes from ancient Greece. Aristotle wrote in Physics II.2, “A technology is something which catches on to exponentially scale its behaviour.” This is a broad concept that applies to many areas of human activity.

Technology can also be defined as an activity which changes culture. New technologies can be useful or harmful. They can be used for peaceful purposes, but they also have a significant impact on the environment. The new technologies can also disrupt social hierarchies.

Aristotle’s doctrine of the four causes is one of the early contributions to philosophy of technology. The doctrine is rooted in the idea that technology imitates nature. Democritus, an ancient Greek philosopher, suggested that house-building imitated nature.

A key aspect of the philosophy of technology is the notion that technology must be purposeful. To be purposeful, it must serve a practical goal. Moreover, technology must be purposeful and specific. This means that the technologist has to decide what constitutes a problem before solving it in a particular way.

The early twentieth-century notion of appropriate technology applies to situations that require centralized infrastructure or imported skills and parts. It also refers to situations where new technologies are not desirable.

The concept of technology has been used in literature such as A Clockwork Orange, Brave New World, and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The criticism of new technologies has also been prevalent since the 1970s.

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