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The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology download epub

by Langdon Winner


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Langdon Winner (born August 7, 1944) is Thomas Phelan Chair of Humanities and Social Sciences in the .

Langdon Winner (born August 7, 1944) is Thomas Phelan Chair of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. Langdon Winner was born in San Luis Obispo, California on August 7, 1944. in 1973, all in political science at the University of California, Berkeley. Social Constructivism: Opening the Black Box and Finding It Empty," Science as Culture, Vol. 3, part 3, no. 16, pp. 427–452.

In this book, Langdon Winner presents a philosophical description of the position of those who oppose the paramount place technology has taken in society. Central to Winner�s argument is his observation that technology is inherently political. He presets two ways in which this is so. The first, which is rather unconvincing, is that a piece of technology can be used as a means of political coercion. He cites the fact that Robert Moses designed the overpasses on the parkways around New York City to be so low as to prevent buses from using them. This ensured that low-income people could not live.

University of Chicago Press, 2010 M07 15 - 214 pages. Langdon Winner is professor of political science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the author of Autonomous Technology. The questions he poses about the relationship between technical change and political power are pressing ones that can no longer be ignored, and identifying them is perhaps the most a nascent 'philosophy of technology' can expect to achieve at the present time. The Whale and the Reactor is the philosopher's equivalent of superb public history. Bibliographic information.

Winner does frame the thesis of the book as such and every chapter begins with a tease that the topic might actually be explored in some academic fashion. What you get, however, is a long-winded rant from a very narrow perspective of a white, privileged, older male american. His main argument is that everyone just knows that life was better I was looking for a book that would take a deep dive into ideas of "appropriate technology" and how we should define the goals of technological innovation.

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Preface Acknowledgments I. A Philosophy of Technology 1. Technologies as Forms of Life 2. Do Artifacts Have Politics? 3. Techne and Politeia II. Technology: Reform and Revolution 4. Building the Better Mousetrap 5. Decentralization Clarified 6. Mythinformation III. Excess and Limit 7. The State of Nature Revisited 8. On Not Hitting the Tar-Baby 9. Brandy, Cigars and Human Values 10.

Read unlimited books and audiobooks on the web, iPad, iPhone and . Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry.

Read unlimited books and audiobooks on the web, iPad, iPhone and Android. Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things. The Existential Pleasures of Engineering.

"The questions he poses about the relationship between technical change and political power are pressing ones that can no longer be ignored, and identifying them is perhaps the most a nascent 'philosophy of technology' can expect to achieve at the present time."—David Dickson, New York Times Book Review"The Whale and the Reactor is the philosopher's equivalent of superb public history. In its pages an analytically trained mind confronts some of the most pressing political issues of our day."—Ruth Schwartz Cowan, Isis

Comments: (7)

Oveley
Pretty thin. In the first chapter, for instance, the author takes 25 pages to write about an idea that can fit in two lines: that technology isn't a thing it itself that develops autonomously and that the kind of technology societies get rather depends on what these societies are - and that whatever technology they do get ends up shaping them in turn. Winner appears to be writing for an audience for whom his arguments would be completely new - if you are the kind of person for whom they aren't, just read some Heidegger. Or, if you're looking for some more exotic suggestions, maybe volume 5 of Eric Voegelin's collected works, "Modernity Without Restraint." Or Hans Blumenberg's "The Legitimacy of the Modern Age." Or some Karl Lowith. This here is an example of contemporary sociological writing: one in which the author is so battered by academia's consistent rejection of his or her ideas that he qualifies them to within an inch of their life. Just say it already!
Ariurin
A really interesting read on the ideological apparatus of technology. The intersections with modern political rhetoric and shifts from Keynes to neoliberal economics illustrate the conditions through which Silicon Valley tech companies and lifestyles have emerged. It is a brief, insightful read that draws from critical theory as well as hints at later developed network theories and infrastructure studies.
For people interested in STS, history of communications, media studies, and political economy this is an excellent and essential read.
Kanal
A popular morning radio broadcast here in Detroit has a great bit periodically entitled this, "Stop and think about it." Winner passionately writes with this theme in mind when it comes to technology.
As technology as we now know it seems steamrolling always into new area never ventured and most react with "can't stop progress," this book delivers the good gift of "we'd better start, stopping and thinking more carefully about it." The "it" is the impact of technologies upon society.
Discussions of risk analysis, tradeoffs, environment and ecology, and of course, economics and politics and social sciences and philosophy are all here.
I came away at times frustrated with the critique going on which didn't truly provide great alternatives, but certainly one obtains from reading this profitable work the valuable premise, i.e. shouldn't we be engaging more seriously in setting limits on technology?
Stem cells, and medical technology regarding life & death issues have clearly pushed the technological envelope to the breaking point for all of society. Engage with this subject. This book is good place to enter the dialogue.
Laizel
Loved it!
Vut
In this book, Langdon Winner presents a philosophical description of the position of those who oppose the paramount place technology has taken in society. Central to Winner�s argument is his observation that technology is inherently political. He presets two ways in which this is so. The first, which is rather unconvincing, is that a piece of technology can be used as a means of political coercion. He cites the fact that Robert Moses designed the overpasses on the parkways around New York City to be so low as to prevent buses from using them. This ensured that low-income people could not live in the communities adjacent to these parkways which was a political aim of Moses. Now Moses used technology in this case but since technology represents the means by which things are done in the world, this seems to have been inevitable.
Winner makes a much more convincing case for his second form of politics in technology. Any technology requires a compatible environment to work in to achieve maximum efficiency. People who benefit from a specific technology will through political means strive to change society to achieve this compatibility. Specific technologies carry their own political imperatives.
Now in itself the co-evolution of society and technology is not necessarily harmful to human society. Modern technology requires and educated work force and hence drives a political imperative for an educated middleclass population. The needs of technology and a beneficial state of society are compatible in this case. However Winner does not see it this way. He sees technology as an independent force for change that will indifferently discard traditions and social structures that are incompatible with it. Reading his descriptions of society, one realizes that Winner appreciates what could be called the �darkness of society� in analogy to the �darkness of god.�
The darkness of god is the sense of ineffable mystery when one contemplates the power and intentions of god. The magnificence of god is tied to the fact that he is infinitely good and beyond human comprehension. His ineffable mystery provides comfit to his believers. In the same way, Winner wants to find a sense of belonging in society. He objects to the technological view that society is a purely instrumental means of achieving some desirable end. For his society is the thing that gives meaning. Depriving it of this renders the individual helpless and alone.
Winner attempts to understand why others do not see society in this way. In particular he tries to understand why people are quite willing to adapt themselves and their society to the needs of technology. Winner sees that this acceptance of technological change has brought prosperity but cannot see how shallow economic prosperity is preferable to a stable meaning-giving society. Hence the Whale and the Reactor of his title.
What Winner seems to miss is that while technology has political imperatives, as he correctly observes, it is also subject to political imperatives. There is no monolithic thing called technology. Rather there are various technologies that all compete to fit into what would best be called a ecosystem of technological and societal arrangements. Successful technologies then must be aware and adapt to the needs of the larger ecosystem of society. Societal and technological arrangements co-evolve and a successful arrangement must be sensitive to larger needs outside of itself.
This co-evolution is best done in a open educated affluent society that is tolerant of change and divergent views. Technology rather than being a straightjacket requiring conformity from members of society is a slave to society�s needs. It will be By fostering an open educated society it creates the conditions that foster the dignity of the individual. The very political imperatives that control technological development are the reasons why people are willing to adapt to technology. They adapt in an open educated way that provides frees them from obsolete constraints while emphasizing long held beliefs of individual dignity and freedom.
The movies �Modern Times� and �Metropolis� show technology in the way it is viewed by Winner. Technology is shown as an over-powering force that indifferently shapes mankind to its needs. However the dystopias presented in these movies and seen by Winner has not come about. Society has become more open. Society has become freer with the political changes driven by technology.
Winner decries the lack of meaning and tradition he sees around him. To him meaning comes from society and change eliminates meaning. For others, meaning comes from an eternal process of which change is a part. Meaning is not fixed but a continual striving for understanding. Technology is accepted because it is part of that process. Technology is then part of an ineffable darkness by which mankind evolves its meaning.
This is a book well worth reading. Winner's views have wide consonance in society. His feeling of unease in the face of technological change is shared by many. There is a wide gulf in understanding between those who share Winner's view and the bulk of society which finds that its beliefs are compatible with technological change. This gulf can be seen by the mutual incomprehension on both sides of the globalization debate. I disagree with Winner's views and find his view of technology as political incomplete. However he masterfully describes the issues that a5re driving these worldwide protests. Most of these protests are inarticulate expressions of an emotional horror at the loss of meaning. Winner provides us with an insightful analysis of the issues that is clear and thoughtful.
This is a book well worth reading.
The Whale and the Reactor: A Search for Limits in an Age of High Technology download epub
Engineering
Author: Langdon Winner
ISBN: 0226902110
Category: Engineering & Transportation
Subcategory: Engineering
Language: English
Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1st edition (1989)
Pages: 216 pages