Technology has been a part of human society since its earliest days. It started with the use of natural resources to create simple tools. Fire provided food for prehistoric man, and the wheel helped humans travel around their environment. Later, the printing press and telephone revolutionized communication and reduced physical barriers to interaction. Throughout history, technology has been used for many different purposes, but not all for good. Some technology has even been used for destructive purposes, such as the development of weapons with increasing destructive power.
Although technology and philosophy are distinct concepts, the two fields are closely related. For example, experimental science depends on technology for research set-ups and data collection. Without the use of technology, modern science would be impossible to study certain phenomena. However, these two concepts should not be confused. The philosophical differences between science and technology are vast and complicated.
Philosophical reflection on technology often takes a critical approach. Many writers and philosophers have criticized the role of technology, including Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The poem Faust by Goethe is also often interpreted as a metaphor for industrial technology. In addition, industrial technology was criticized by Theodore Kaczynski, a former unpopular fugitive known as the Unabomber.
Another definition of technology is instrumental, where people can use the means of a technological system to achieve a particular end. The means used are not predetermined, but rather are influenced by human values. Technology that has an instrumental definition may be rich and meaningful.