Alternative Modernity: The Technical Turn in Philosophy and by Andrew Feenberg

By Andrew Feenberg

During this new selection of essays, Andrew Feenberg argues that conflicts over the layout and association of the technical structures that constitution our society form deep offerings for the longer term. A pioneer within the philosophy of know-how, Feenberg demonstrates the continued power of the serious idea of the Frankfurt tuition. He calls into query the anti-technological stance normally linked to its theoretical legacy and argues that expertise comprises possibilities which may be built because the foundation for another type of glossy society.Feenberg's serious reflections at the rules of J?rgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse, Jean-Fran?ois Lyotard, and Kitaro Nishida shed new gentle at the philosophical research of expertise and modernity. He contests the known belief of know-how as an unstoppable strength responsive in simple terms to its personal inner dynamic and politicizes the dialogue of its social and cultural construction.This argument is substantiated in a chain of compelling and well-grounded case stories. via his exploration of technology fiction and movie, AIDS study, the French adventure with the "information superhighway," and the japanese reception of Western values, he demonstrates how expertise, while subjected to public strain and debate, can include moral and aesthetic values.

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Ideology was supposed to be exhausted; the emerging "Great Society," proclaimed by Lyndon Johnson, was to be justified by its success in delivering the goods. At that point, the critique of technocracy, already adumbrated in Fëdor Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, was transformed from a conceit of a few literary intellectuals into a mass cultural phenomenon. Science fiction had long articulated the fear of technocracy in stories depicting the horrors of life in a perfectly rationalized society.

Thus, however responsive they may be in other respects, those in charge of our Page 6 technical destiny meet few serious obstacles to reproducing their technical power in their relations with consumers. In my earlier book I followed the lead of the many historians and sociologists for whom the assembly line exemplifies the biasing of design by powerful interests. The history of the deskilling of the labor process under capitalism, which culminates in a production system in which workers are controlled by machines, points to the essential role of design in providing an objective basis for the class structure.

In the case of French videotex, a computer network installed on the scale of an entire nation through the distribution of millions of free terminals (the famous Minitel) was intended primarily to give access to information; users' interest in communicating with each other was ignored. In each case public interventions, by AIDS patients in one and network users in the other, significantly altered the systems to accommodate excluded interests. Now Food and Drug Administration Page 7 regulations and experimental designs are in flux as medicine gropes toward a new approach that recognizes the demands of dying patients.

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