The philosophy of technology focuses on the relationship between action and rationality and how technology affects human behavior. Its history has a slow and complex evolution from a number of different philosophical strands. However, one academic outsider, Emile Ellul, recognized that technology was the dominant answer to human knowledge and action.
Technology’s philosophical roots are almost as old as philosophy itself. The earliest recorded testimony of its history comes from ancient Greece. Ancient Greek philosophers stressed the role of nature in the development of technology. Democritus, for example, argued that weaving and house-building had evolved from nature. This is still the oldest source of a claim that nature is the first and best teacher of technology.
Technology’s impact on society is wide-ranging. Its creation and evolution has altered the way people live, work, and interact. It has also disrupted social structures, caused pollution, and negatively affected individuals and groups. Since the 1970s, technology has received criticism for its negative impact on the environment. As a result, a major push for clean energy technologies has occurred.
There is also a growing focus on the ethical implications of technology. Increasingly, ethical reflection on technology focuses on specific technologies and phases of development, rather than general concerns about technology’s impact on society. The two trends have dramatically shifted ethical questions regarding technology, making it necessary to consider a broad range of viewpoints before making any decisions.