Technology is the total collection of any methods, skills, techniques, processes, or even creative ideas used in the achievement of specific goals, including scientific research or in the manufacturing of particular products or services. The study of technology and especially technology research is known as the science of technology. There is much debate as to what constitute technology. Often, it is placed into different categories including information technology, machine technology, cognitive technology, physical technology, and social technology.
As defined by Max Schatzberg in his introduction to the subject, technology is “the combination of existing procedures and devices for a particular purpose with new or derived ones.” He further defines technology as the result of the application of science and the application of art and aesthetics, with an aim toward a social effect. In his discussion of the history of technology, he follows the argument of Karl Alfred Jung, who viewed human beings through the lens of an analytical category, rather than as individual entities. This paper will therefore consider the broad range of technological aspects that define the analytical category of technology.
According to Schatzberg, technology is determined by the combination of different cultural approaches to a given problem. This means that the technological definition cannot be merely the product of one cultural field or practice, but is instead dependent upon the interpretation of cultural information and the effects that these cultural information have on technological systems. Schatzberg’s broadening of the cultural perspective allows him to include aesthetic, literature, technical arts, and other forms of social thought and creativity. According to him, technology is the collection of various human practices and systems, which when studied collectively are shaped by the specific interests and needs of the people using them. This then suggests that technology is a socio-cultural phenomenon, which is influenced by a diversity of cultural practices and perspectives, which in turn are affected by other socio-cultural factors.
The term technology was first used by American psychiatrist and philosopher Kurt Goldstein during the early twentieth century. He used the term to define certain techniques and procedures used in scientific experimentation, such as those used by bacteriology and genetics, and used in engineering, such as those employed in aerospace and defense. However, in his book The Demystification of Technology, Goldstein substitutes technology for biology and medicine, and thus his ideas are regarded as a radical rejection of traditional approaches to technology. According to him, technology is determined not only by its usefulness to man, but also by the social and cultural impact it has upon the society in which it is used.
The most influential thinker in the early history of the development of the analytical category of technology was Jules Chabot, who is considered to be the father of the modern metallurgy. As he developed his concept of machines, he included all the important developments in technologies up to the present day, such as gunpowder and steamboat propulsion. However, since he considered all these technologies relative, he failed to classify them into a particular category, thus leading him to develop the idea of the dynamic category of technologies. In his book Theoria E Combinatori, Chabot separates the concepts of art and science, making them into two independent and distinct categories. His ideas have inspired many artists, including Leonardo da Vinci.
Karl Menninger is another important thinker of the early twentieth century. He was a pioneer in the studies of technology. In his Science and Technology Studies, Menninger presents his theory of social science as a distinct field separate from engineering, which he classifies into a single unified field. According to Menninger, science is concerned with the objective reality, whereas social science considers the subjective perspective. As opposed to the views of several twentieth-century thinkers, Menninger maintains that social sciences should not limit themselves to economic, technological, or political concepts, as these concepts are incomplete without an account of culture.
Furthermore, Williamauld, volume II of his Studies on Industrial Efficiency, emphasizes that technology is a learning process, which needs constant improvement. Furthermore, he distinguished between the two concepts, ‘technical progress’ and ‘efficiency improvements’. He believed that technological progress is based on the accumulation of scientific knowledge, through scientific methods, which are objective, independent, and testable, on the other hand efficiency improvements are based on changes in technique, on changes in production methods, on changes in methods of distribution and on changes in modes of payment. Thus, according to Williamauld, knowledge and skills are the foundation of progress, and technology, in his view, is merely an expedient to overcome certain practical problems.
Finally, the term technology was not taken from any one individual. It was adopted by several philosophers, includingeenth-century French thinker Descartes, whose major works include those concerning reason and mind, where he discusses various issues, including those concerning technology. Later, German philosopher Galileo, who did significant contributions to the development of modern science, used the term, in his discourse on the moon and the stars, in order to explain the movement of the heavenly bodies.