Living in the Labyrinth of Technology

Living in the Labyrinth of Technology

Weight 0.00 lbs
By Willem H. Vanderburg
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2005
World Rights
550 Pages
ISBN 9780802048790
Published Jun 2005
Online discount: 15%
 $47.95    $40.76
ISBN 9780802044327
Published Jul 2005
Online discount: 25%
 $101.00    $75.75
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442659483
Published Feb 2015
Online discount: 24%
Full purchase $44.95

From the very beginnings of their existence, human beings have distinguished themselves from other animals by not taking immediate experience for granted. Everything was symbolized according to its meaning and value: a fallen branch from a tree became a lever; a tree trunk floating in the river became a canoe. Homo logos created communities based on cultures: humanity's first megaproject.

Further symbolization of the human community and its relation to nature led to the possibility of creating societies and civilizations. Everything changed as these interposed themselves between the group and nature. Homo societas created ways of life able to give meaning, direction, and purpose to many groups by means of very different cultures: humanity's second megaproject.

What Das Kapital did for the nineteenth century and La technique did for the twentieth, Willem H. Vanderburg's Living in the Labyrinth of Technology seeks to create for the twenty-first century: an attempt at understanding the world in a manner not shackled to overspecialized scientific knowing and technical doing. Western civilization may well be creating humanity's third megaproject, based not on symbolization for making sense of and living in the world, but on highly specialized desymbolized knowing stripped of all peripheral understanding.

Vanderburg focuses on two interdependent forces in his narrative, namely, people changing technology and technology changing people. The latter aspect, although rarely considered, turns out to be the more critical one for understanding the spectacular successes and failures of contemporary ways of life. As technology continues to change the social and physical world, the experiences of this world 'grow' people's minds and society's cultures, thereby re-creating human life in the image of technology. Living in the Labyrinth of Technology argues that the twenty-first century will be dominated by this pattern unless society intervenes on human (as opposed to technical) terms.

Willem H. Vanderburg is the founding director of the Centre for Technology and Social Development and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto.

Introduction: Where Are We Going with Technology?

Part One: Disconnecting from and Reconnecting to the Earth and the Gods

I Industrialization as 'People Changing Technolo&: Disconnecting from and Reconnecting to the Earth
1.1 Revisiting the Process of Industrialization
1.2 The Technology-Based Connectedness of Society
1.3 Living with Materials
1.4 Living with the Economy
1.5 Living Together Socially
1.6 Living Together Politically
1.7 Living with the Law
1.8 Disconnecting from and Reconnecting to the Earth
1.9 Some Implications
2 Industrialization as Technology Changing People': Disconnecting from and Reconnecting to the Gods
2.1 Symbolization and Cultural Moorings
2.2 Symbolization and the Life-Milieu
2.3 Culture as the Symbolic Basis for Individual Life
2.4 Culture as the Symbolic Basis for Collective Life
2.5 Industrialization as Cultural Unfolding
2.6 New Cultural Moorings
2.7 Religion, Morality, and Art
2.8 The First Generation of Industrial Societies
3 Living with New Moorings to the Earth and the Gods
3.1 Serving Technology
3.2 On Becoming Human Resources
3.3 Technology and the Human Journey
3.4 No Detached Observers

Part Two: Disconnecting from and Reconnecting to Experience and Culture
4 People Changing Technology: Severing the Cultural Moorings of Traditional Technological Knowing and Doing
4.1 Transcending the Limits of Technological Traditions
4.2 The Destruction of Technological Traditions
4.3 Parallel Modes of Knowing
4.4 The Technological Knowledge of a Society
4.5 A Discontinuous Change in Technological Knowing and Doing
5 Scientific and Technological Knowledge in Human Life
5.1 Scientific Education and Culture
5.2 Contemporary Technological Doing Embedded in Culture
5.3 Contemporary Technological Knowing and Doing in Relation to Culture
6 Adapting to the New Technological Knowing and Doing
6.1 The Emergence of Universal Technology
6.2 Living with a New Economy
6.3 Living in a Mass Society
6.4 Living with a Limitless Politics
6.5 The Intellectual and Professional Division of Labour and the Poverty of Nations

Part Three: Our Third Megaproject?
7 Technique and Culture
7.1 The Disenchantment of the World Revisited
7.2 The Invention of Universal Knowledge
7.3 Rationality and Industrialization
7.4 Logic, Artificial Intelligence, and Culture
7.5 On Creating a New Concept
8 Human Life Out of Context
8.1 The Technical Approach to Life
8.2 Sport
8.3 Education
8.4 War
8.5 Commercial and Political Advertising
8.6 Organization
8.7 Agriculture
8.8 Living with the Technical Approach to Life
9 From Experience to Information
9.1 The Roots of the Information Explosion
9.2 Homo Znformaticus and the Information Society
9.3 Technique and Industry
9.4 The Price to Be Paid
9.5 Living with Information
10 Remaking Ourselves in the Image of Technique: Culture within Technique
10.1 Technique as Phenomenon
10.2 Technique as Life-Milieu
10.3 Technique as Consciousness
10.4 Possessed by Technique?
10.5 Technique as System of Non-sense
10.6 Technique as Collective Person
10.7 Living with Non-sense

‘An important contribution to the ongoing debate about where current events are leading us, Living in the Labyrinth of Technology is dense with profound, disturbing, and often surprising insights and connections. Vanderburg’s writing is excellent – clear and refreshingly conversational – and he performs an important role in pulling together Jacques Ellul’s ideas about technology and technique and updating Ellul’s conclusions to the present at a time when the downside of technique seems to be accelerating.

Stuart Dreyfus, College of Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

‘Willem H. Vanderburg’s work is highly regarded by many, but Living in the Labyrinth of Technology is surely his most important book. Vanderburg compellingly explains how daily life in modern society has evolved to become routinely blind to the forces of authoritarianism and conformity. We learn, painfully, not only how the everyday of modern life fails to question the meaning or ethics of its constructed reality, but why. The book’s disturbing explanation cannot comfort readers, but it does offer the chance to reflect on our cultural drift and, just possibly, to realize the need to resurrect normative purposes for our being. A major work.’

John Byrne, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware