Technological determinism: contours of a concept
Technological determinism, which in essence is the concept meaning that ‘technology determines history’, has its roots in eighteenth-century Enlightenment. It has manifested itself against various political backgrounds as the idea of the development of human power in overcoming nature and anti-revolutionary forces, as well as a view of technology as a method of political salvation. The approaches of various thinkers are categorized by Bimber as being either normative (corresponding to a soft determinism), nomological or one of unforseen consequences. During the twentieth century a number of writers (among them Ellul) have expounded pessimistic and even fatalistic views on the effects of technology. Ironically, they have thus done much to enhance the image of technology as a force in society. Both those who view technology positively and those who are intensely sceptical about its influence accord it an active, even autonomous role in the development of society. However, a third view is both possible and imperative, namely that technology and its development are part of both our freedom and our responsibility, and that it must therefore be controlled and utilized as part of our stewardship of God's creation.
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