The definition of technology has been the subject of considerable philosophical debate. Technology was a relatively denigrated topic in Western philosophy until the early modern period, as a result of the unfavorable distinctions—dating to ancient Greece—between techne (craft knowledge) and epistēmē (theory or science). “Technology” most commonly refers to manufactured things: artifacts, handiwork, devices, and machinery (Kline 1985, 215). The term “biotechnology,” coined in the twentieth century, refers to the manufacture or gainful modification of organisms, tissues, and life processes. Examples of biotechnology range from plant breeding to genetic engineering. Some scholars broaden the category of technology to include technics: technical skills, methods, and routines. More broadly still, others consider technologies to be “sociotechnical systems of use,” defined by Stephen Kline as “combinations of hardware and people” brought into being “to accomplish tasks that humans cannot perform without such systems—to extend human capacities” (1985, 216).

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