The development of a technology follows a systematic process. Each step validates the idea, tests it against reality, and increases the researcher’s confidence. But as the stages advance, the process becomes increasingly complex. This is especially true for promising early technologies, which often reach a “death valley” phase in the middle of development, requiring sustained effort.
Philosophy of technology
Philosophy of technology deals with the character of technology and its role in society. It has several branches and focuses on such issues as the ethical implications of technology, the relation between human beings and technology, and the political aspects of technology. It emerged as a separate field of philosophical inquiry during the second half of the nineteenth century, and today encompasses as many approaches as there are philosophical traditions. Its main goal is to analyze the social roles of technology.
The history of philosophy of technology is nearly as old as philosophy itself. Some of the earliest recorded testimony about the subject dates back to ancient Greece. There, four prominent themes emerged. The first of these themes was the idea that technology learns from nature. Democritus, for instance, claimed that humankind first discovered weaving and house-building by imitating nature. Another early source of the idea that nature is the ultimate source of knowledge is Heraclitus.
Technology and its subfields have a long and varied history. They began as a domain of construction and knowledge used by humans to improve their lives. However, as technology developed, it also became a subject of philosophical reflection. In the 20th century, technology has become a central part of human life, and philosophers have begun to look at the ways that technology affects human beings.
There are many subfields of technology, with each developing a unique and distinctive set of skills and knowledge. For example, a psycho-pharmaceutical substance can improve a person’s mental capabilities. Another example is genetically altering a human embryo to prevent genetic disorders.
Its contributions to philosophy of science
A number of contemporary philosophers have developed an interest in the philosophy of technology. These include Jean Baudrillard, Albert Borgmann, Andrew Feenberg, Langdon Winner, Donna Haraway, Avital Ronell, Brian Holmes, Carl Mitcham, Gilbert Simondon, and Paul Virilio.
The two fields of philosophy have had many constructive interactions and have generated new analyses of technologies. While these approaches have not been studied by the broader community, they have received intense interest from specialized circles. These communities share a common interest in alternative conceptions of technology and science.