Feelings on Technology Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Technology, Society & Politics

The role of technology in society, politics and economics: Analysis of the works of Kuhn, Rhodes, Christensen, Levy and Toulmin

The development of technology with the onset of the Industrial Revolution, capitalism, and modernism created significant changes in the culture and institutions of human societies. Where technology used to be associated with machinery and manufacturing, technology in the 20th century gradually became associated with computer technology. Scientific developments shifted from macro to micro; human power centered from physical labor to intellectual improvement/development. As civilization progressed towards modernism in the 20th century, technology has become more invasive to people's lives. Inevitably, technology has penetrated not only the science sector, but other institutions as well, particularly human society's culture, politics, and economy.

Indeed, the significant role that technology played in the culture, politics, and economy of modern society has been debated and expressed through discourses by famous philosophers and scholars on science and technology, sociology, and history. This paper discusses the main points expressed in the discourses of the following authors about science, technology, and modern society: "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Thomas Kuhn, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes, "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Clayton Christensen, "Cosmopolis" by Stephen Toulmin, and "Hackers" by Steven Levy. Kuhn and Rhodes discussed the influence and significance of technology in politics, while Christensen discussed the role that technology played in the booming computer industry and economy. Lastly, both Toulmin and Levy contemplated in their discourses the effect that technology has over human society, and how these effects influenced the nature of human thinking for the 20th century, and possibly, in the future years.

In his discourse, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," author Thomas Kuhn emphasized the almost parallel characteristics that political and scientific revolutions have with each other. In describing the nature of political revolutions vis-a-vis scientific revolutions, he stated that both stem from the same conditions, wherein extant institutions (political) and paradigms (scientific) have "ceased to function" in the way that these institutions/paradigms had initially functioned and helped initiate change in the society. Ultimately, revolutions, whether political or scientific, happen because there is a "sense of malfunction that can lead to crisis," a "prerequisite" that must be satisfied in order to initiate change and development.

Further into his analysis of scientific revolution, Kuhn asserted that in this event, "new knowledge would replace ignorance rather than replace knowledge of another and incompatible sort." In this statement, development is explicated deterministically, wherein revolution was an event where replacement occurs rather than a continuation of a previously-existing institution or paradigm. And these revolutions happen because of a greater objective or goal: political and scientific revolutions happen because they bring society 'closer to the truth,' allowing humanity to fully realize the meaning and significance of human life and existence. While political revolutions help people attain greater meaning to human existence, scientific revolutions generate the answers to the presence of human life in the world. In effect, both kinds of revolution bring about improvement and change in life.

While Khun related politics and technology based on their merits and benefits to society, Rhodes' "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" reflected the detriment that technology can cause when used for political propaganda and purposes. In the book, Rhodes highlighted the life of the scientist Leo Szilard to underscore the fact that society can make a choice to utilize technology either for political gain or social progress. The bombing of two cities in Japan, Hiroshima and…

Sources Used in Document:


Christensen, C. (1997). The Innovator's Dilemma: When new technologies cause great firms to fail. Harvard Business School Press.

Kuhn, T. (1962). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Available at: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/us/kuhn.htm.

Levy, S. (2001). Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution. Penguin.

Rhodes, R. (1995). The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Simon & Schuster.

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