By Friedrich Rapp (auth.)
Friedrich Rapp, during this magisterial and important essay on know-how, the complicated human phenomenon that calls for philosophy of technology, philosophy of tradition, ethical perception, and old sensi tivity for its figuring out, writes modestly of the grave and ten tative scenario within the philosophy of expertise. regardless of the professional stumbled on thinkers who've dedicated time and mind's eye and ratio nal penetration, regardless of the big literature now on hand, the numerous and comparative viewpoints of political, analytic, regardless of metaphysical, cultural, even esthetic commitments, certainly regardless of the sincere becoming a member of of historic and systematic equipment of inves tigation, we're faraway from a passable knowing of the thrill and sorrows, the achievements and disappointments, of the tech nological saga of human societies. Professor Rapp has ready this document at the philosophical realizing of expertise for a bothered global; if ever philosophy have been wanted, it truly is within the prac tical try to locate possible choices between applied sciences, to foresee risks and possibilities, to decide on with a feeling of the possibil ity of pleasant humane values. Emerson pointed out the coed no longer as a consultant aside, yet as 'Man considering' and Rapp's essay so speaks to we all, commercial international or 3rd international, engineers or humanists, drained or lively, anxious or optimistic.
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Even at this, it still remains an open question as to how these (divergent) goals can be detennined in a mass society and established without an institutionalized procedure. The Marxist theoretician Wolfgang Harich, in sharp contrast, THE PHILOSOPHY OF TECHNOLOGY 19 argues for an ascetic system of distribution imposed by an efficiently organized state that is equipped with dictatorial powers. Such a state must reverse· the already advanced destruction of the environment and avert the threat of a world-wide crisis of food supplies.
Granted the fact of historical diversity, technological procedures, nevertheless, always exhibit common features. While it is their concrete embodiment which determines the character of any particular era, such features make possible a supra-historical structural description of technology. In the first place, technological action is always tied to ideological presuppositions, such as a certain world view and a corresponding state of technical knowledge. To these theoretical prerequisites we must add the element of commitment (motivation) required to channel technological potential in a certain direction.
One theorem states, for example, that it is impossible to build a perpetuum mobile. Similarly the second law of thennodynamics excludes the possibility that any electrical transfonner or combustion engine can ever achieve 100 per cent efficiency. Other examples of limiting theorems concern the propagation of physical effects with the velocity of light (Einstein), the measurability of microscopic processes (Heisenberg), and infonnation transfer through a given channel (Shannon) (cf. 5, 14-16). The historical development of the sciences and the course of the history of technology show that our knowledge of the laws of nature so far has always been imperfect; however, at least in the modem age, a continuous progress in knowledge can be seen.
Analytical Philosophy of Technology by Friedrich Rapp (auth.)