Technology and Society in Habermas’ Early Social Theory: Towards a Critical Theory of Technology beyond Instrumentalism
Keywords:Habermas, Feenberg, Winner, Critical theory, Philosophy of technology, Technical rationality
Jürgen Habermas is not often thought of as a philosopher of technology. After presenting his early critique of technocratic consciousness, I will contend that the main problem of Habermas’ conception of technology lies in the conflation of “technology” with “technical rationality”. Feenberg criticizes Habermas’ position for implicitly depoliticizing technology. By developing a distinction between “technology” and “technique”, I will argue that Habermas’ position does not exclude a critical theory of technology. The emergent picture will combine Habermas’ emphasis that technology is more than a historical project with Feenberg’s optimism on the possibility of an emancipatory reorientation of technology.
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