The Philosophy of Technology


Technology is one of the fundamental phenomena of modern society. It holds together a complex web of interactions that are important to everyday life. However, the study of technology has not received the same recognition as science.

The concept of technology has its roots in ancient Greece. There is evidence to suggest that a variety of philosophers of the time viewed it as a neutral concept. In some cases, they were perhaps blind to its difference from other concepts.

Aristotle’s doctrine of the four causes is another early contribution to the field. He wrote in Physics II.8, “The four causes are the material, the mechanical, the teleological, and the magical.”

Technology as a practice is concerned with the design and manufacture of artifacts. These may be in the form of utensils, machines, or software. Artifacts are often conceived as a solution to a problem, though they may also be questionable.

An artifact is a functional and/or practical application of a piece of knowledge. One way to think about this is to identify what makes a technological feat worthwhile. For example, is a machine or a machine-like device a better alternative than a handcrafted product?

A good technology discovery process can be a difficult task. This is especially true if the technology is being discovered in a very limited amount of time and money. Nonetheless, a number of philosophers have proposed methods for making this process as efficient as possible.