Technology is a term that describes the use of tools, physical objects, and software in order to produce something faster, better, or cheaper. It is often used in conjunction with science. The word “technology” can also refer to the activities that shape culture.
There are two basic branches of philosophy of technology: one deals with the nature of things, and the other focuses on the ways in which they are created. Both of these approaches are related to the wider perspective of social sciences and humanities.
The early themes of ancient Greece were reflected in the philosophy of technology. The first was that technology imitates nature. Democritus’s theories of house-building and weaving, for example, were considered to be examples of technology imitating nature. However, Aristotle believed that technology is not simply an imitation of nature. He argued that it is the application of knowledge to practical goals.
In the twentieth century, the concept of appropriate technology emerged. It is a theory about which technologies are suitable for certain situations, and which are not. This can be useful for making decisions about new technologies. It involves comparing the criteria for various technical, economic, and environmental criteria. For instance, a company that uses a high-end smartphone may gain a competitive edge over a company that uses analogue photography.
The idea that technology is a means to an end is often a strong point of view for technologists. They view their work as a problem-solving process, and see the creation of new technologies as a way to solve a particular problem.
However, the notion of technology as a means to an end can be misleading. There is often a significant societal ramification of new technologies, and the way in which they are used can have deep ramifications for individuals, groups, and society.
For example, the Internet and other forms of communication have disrupted social hierarchies, and facilitated political oppression. Furthermore, new technologies have been accused of having negative impacts on the environment, and have been criticized for their impact on people’s health and well-being.
The second strand of the philosophy of technology is that of the humanities. It traces its roots to the ancient Greek philosophers. The doctrine of the four causes, or the ‘four causes’, is one of the early contributions to the philosophy of technology. It was written by Aristotle in Physics II.8, and it has remained an important source for discussions about metaphysics of artifacts.
In the end, the branch of philosophy of technology that focuses on the nature of things, and on the way in which they are created, is most important. This is because this approach is continuous with the overall perspective of the humanities. The development of technology is a complex and step-by-step process, which consists of a series of stages. Each succeeding stage tests the underlying ideas and generates a more complicated understanding. Each step thereby gains researchers’ confidence.
A third strand of the philosophy of technology is that which aims to understand the design and creation of artifacts. This includes the field of engineering. The process of designing tools and systems uses the results of scientific research to help solve a specific problem. The goal is to find a method to achieve a purpose, such as providing entertainment, making document creation easier, or making tasks more efficient.