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A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology by Vincent F. Hendricks, Stig Andur Pedersen, Jan Kyrre Berg Olsen Friis

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Chapter 22

Introduction: Philosophy and Technology

VAL DUSEK

The field of philosophy of technology as a branch of professional philosophy is relatively recent. It is only some three decades old as a flourishing specialty. Traditional branches of philosophy, such as metaphysics and ethics, are almost two and a half millennia old. Philosophy of science as a specialized brand of technical philosophy, by contrast, stems from the second and third decades of the twentieth century. During the nineteenth century a number of scientists, primarily physicists, wrote works specifically dedicated to the philosophy of science. Despite the importance of technology to human life and society throughout human history (and, indeed, prehistory), there has not been a continuous tradition of the philosophy of technology. There have been sporadic major contributions to the field among the classical philosophers. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle discussed the crafts, expertise and techne.

Socrates and Plato contrasted the concrete and effective knowledge possessed by craftspeople with the spurious claims to knowledge of ethical and political matters on the part of politicians of the day. On the other hand, Socrates and Plato contrast the narrow, concrete and specialized craft knowledge with the comprehensive wisdom pursued by genuine philosophy. Socrates and Plato considered ethical and political knowledge, when achieved, as genuine theoretical knowledge. Aristotle also contrasted theoretical with practical ...

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