Had occasion to direct a student to Jacques Ellul’s work the other day to look at his idea of la technique seen as ‘the totality of methods rationally arrived at and having absolute efficiency (for a given stage of development) in every field of human activity.’* In the process of doing that, I came across these two links.
With the conclusion of that piece ending with the following:
Neither of these two options — wholeheartedly embracing the technological imperative or shunning it with anti-civilizational escapism à la Rousseau — is a fitting response to the warning of The Technological Society. We ought instead to take Ellul’s book, placed in the context of his larger work, as an appeal to walk a middle path between unrestrained technophilia and reactionary technophobia, a path we see only if we refocus on human ends, which are familial, communal, political, and ecclesial. This requires that we are willing to admit that among our vast array of technical means many fail to serve us well, that progress on this path has often little to do with innovation, and that control over our means is not simply given but something we must struggle for by confronting them with these higher than technical ends.
* Jacques Ellul, The Technological Society, trans. John Wilkinson (New York: Vintage Books, 1964), xxv.