on May 10, 2001
Andrew Feenberg's analysis of technology is profound and liberating.In his theory Feenberg incorporates ideas and insights from Heidegger, Marcuse, Foucault and Habermas among others, but goes beyond them in elaborating an original view. Dr. Feenberg sees technology as value-laden but humanly controlled and develops a historical concept of the essence of technology that incorporates philosophical, social and scientific perspectives. Convincing arguments are made for not viewing technology as a multiplicity of devices separated from the social sphere. "The technical always already incorporates the social in its structure."(Feenberg, 210) This means that devices could be designed to incorporate technical and environmental aspects that would enable liberation and life promoting values, instead of domination. In other words, technology is not autonomous and deteministic, it is possible, through design, to change its social, normative character. The book is clearly written and well organized, easy to read in the beginning, more demanding toward the end. But the chapters are organized to enable the reader to successfully get through the book, which includes many examples and detailed explanations. This book is a synthesis of philosophy, history and social thought. At the end of the book you are no longer the person you were before, and your view of technology will be forever changed. You begin to see possibilities where you thought none existed, and connections between things that you never dreamed of! I just finished reading it, and plan to read it again, soon!
on October 18, 2000
Andrew Feenberg is the currently most prominent and productive philosopher in the area of technology and politics. He is an extraordinarily well-read and cosmopolitan thinker. He has made original contributions both to technology studies and political theory. And he has fashioned a viable and hopeful philosophy of the left. Feenberg is also a fine craftsman. He writes easily and lucidly. His book is well-constructed and carefully argued. Feenberg does not hesitate to lay bare the skeleton of his argument in clear and helpful charts. His book has an extensive bibliography and an instructive index. And he uses lay-out devices to keep the line of argument before his readers. _Questioning Technology_ is eminently teachable. However, it deserves wide reading and discussion beyond the classroom as well.