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The Technological Self

Dr. Mark Zlomislić

The word technology comes from the Greek word techne which means
art or skill. Techne are the principles or methods employed in making
something. In Greek tekton is a carpenter or a builder. In Greek arche tekt is
one who builds something not yet on earth. An architect builds from the
source. To do this requires technical skill. The English word technical comes
from the Sanskrit word Taksan, the Latin texere which means to construct or
to weave. The word technical is also traced back to the Old High German
word Dehsa which means axe or hatchet.
The first technologists were ones who invented axes, hatchets and
stone tools and carved out their world. Do not think that these pre-historic
peoples were different from us. The world we live in is a result of their
innovation and thinking. With our technology we carve out a world that they
began carving for us. They carved their world with axes and we carve our
world with lasers, electronics and fibre optics .
A technicians is one who has acquired the necessary skills, techniques
and details of an occupation. A technician is one who knows the technique or
the way in which something is done. Such techniques however useful are
one-sided if they do not have wisdom and compassion as a basis.
Without reflection, that is without critical thinking and philosophy our
societies become technocracies. A technocracy is a society managed by
technical experts who are usually supported by big business which has an
agenda of control. Witness Microsoft or Apple. Windows is the dominant
operating system and everyone seems to have the attention drawn to their
Let’s not say “technology is to blame”. Technology is neutral. It is
neither good nor bad. The one using technology can either be enslaved or
liberated; can either remain ignorant or awake. Philosophy teaches us that
we can be real human beings or operators of machines who end up
becoming machines.
From a philosophical point of view technology colonizes space in
terms of agriculture, mining, engineering etc. It takes space and fills it with
non-natural items. Technology reduces time to the instant in terms of
communication mediums such as the telegraph, the telephone, the television
and the internet.
Technology is a prosthetic. In other words technology is something
which is added to the flesh. It is an artificial devices that places us in-front of
a new world. The Greek word for prosthetic is Prosthen, prosthetikos which
means before, in front of. Pros means near or infront and Thetic or Thetikos
means to lay down or fit or ready for placing.
The question is: what does technology lay down? What things does it
make ready and for what purpose?
New technologies introduce new terms to our language. Thousands of
word have been added to our language having to do with technology such as
telephone, television, telegraph CD VCR, binary digit, software, fibre optics,
front wheel drive, window of opportunity, quark, Walkman etc. Old words
take on a new meaning. For example to burn means to make into ashes yet
burning a CD means recording data.


But this same computer becomes the center of our world. Philosophers such as Heidegger and Lyotard have shown that we have lost control over the technology we use. now takes all of our time. It controls us to the extent that we are controlled by the very thing we have invented. Philosophy teaches us that we can be real human beings or operators of machines who end up becoming machines. New technologies such as writing create a knowledge monopoly. This simply means that the benefits and deficits of a new technology are not distributed equally across all cultures and peoples of the world. draft and calculate. We have difficulty in unplugging ourselves from the technology matrix that has been created by industry and sustained by advertising. But at what point do we draw the line? Lyotard argues that relying on technology may cause our species to become in-human. Those who know how a particular technology works accumulate power against those who have no access to this specialized knowledge. to write. We rely on machines to keep us alive. By this he simply means that we have forgotten how to be human. A new technology changes everything. We use it to communicate. it especially changes what it means to be human. 2 . With our knowledge we invent a computer. to draw. human beings are the only beings who allow their inventions to control them. As far as I know. The computer that promised us to be given more free time. Heidegger’s word for this loss of control over the technology we create is en-framing.