Share
Explore BrainMass

Rothenberg's Account of Technology

Please provide assistance getting started on the following assignment. Please help developing strong, valid points on this topic so that I can write a good essay. I need to:

1. Summarize Rothenberg's account of technology as the extension of humanity into the world.

2. Explain what Rothenberg means when he says " As humanity has gained more confidence in the promise of technology, nature itself has appeared to us in increasingly technical terms. It becomes harder to conceive of it as any kind of goal anymore (105). Does Rothenberg offer any suggestions for how we might try to re-conceive nature and our place within it? Also, explain how you would assess Rothenberg's claims. Be sure to support claims with good reasons.

Solution Preview

Remember that I can only give you ideas from the book. Given what you've said, the book in question is Hand's End: Technology and the Limits of Nature. I can only give you a thumbnail sketch. What I have here is more than enough to focus your thoughts and get you thinking.

Summarize Rothenberg's account of technology as the extension of humanity into the world:
Technology derives from human need and struggle. It is an extension of the human person and hence "natural" to humanity. It is the expression of an imperfect humanity "oppressed" by a cold and uncaring natural world. The big distinction that holds the whole book together is between "techne" and "logos". The former refers to the crafts that create technological objects, while logos refers to the objective structure of the world. Rothenberg spends much time on the Greeks because they developed and focused on the question of logos. Logos is abstract; techne is not. It makes logos visible and tangible. It shows, in real, physical form, how the universe is constructed.

The reason why this distinction is so central is that our views on how the universe works derive from how our own technologies work. This is (to an extent) the basic thesis. Speculation does not give knowledge. Technology does. When something like a bow and arrow work and do its job, it is easy to think that the rest of the world works in that kind of a way (force and release). Models of the universe derive from the nature of the technology dominant at the time. The more technology is organized and connected, the more we are prone to see the cosmos as a unit.

Here's the concept - technology follows nature. It takes its origin from the natural world. But it takes natural forces (what we can observe in the natural world) and amplifies it. Nature "hints" at certain things that the human mind can grasp and then improve upon. Meaning then develops due to the usefulness of things. Meaning and language derive, therefore, from how technology works to make our lives easier. Meaning comes from the extension of human reason and action into (and from) the natural world (7). Hence, the real argument here is that human communication and science reflect how technology has affected out own minds and self-images.

There are two general concepts of technology in this book:
- The first is the extension of the body (cf page 31) - these are all machines that enhance some bodily function. Cars make our bodies move faster than our feet. This is easy enough.
- The second is the extension of thought, this is about extending our own consciousness. These include computers, since it extends the reach of the brain. The use of computer memory might be a way to enhance our own mental memory. The final goal (or so it seems) is to create a planet that functions as one single brain, with each part instantaneously in communication with every other. This would be the ultimate intention of the human person into nature.

Remember, ...

Solution Summary

The solution examines Rothenberg's account of technology.

$2.19