Edited By Pilar Sánchez-Gijón, Olga Torres-Hostench and Bartolomé Mesa-Lao
← xviii | 1 →DEBBIE FOLARON
In spite of the almost casual and nonchalant manner in which it is used, the modern word technology has long and venerable roots. It is most often, and quite properly, cited as hailing in its origins from the Greek τεχνολογία, a composite of τέχνη (téchnē) and -λογία (-logía), which refers to the study of a craft, skill or art. While its etymology is useful to some extent, in reality, the word has acquired a rich variety of social and cultural associations that have gradually been formed through the multiple pleats of local histories and contexts across the globe. Nonetheless, despite the heterogeneity in the word’s history, there are common conceptual threads that run through the diverse tapestry of its manifestations. In turn, these threads provide us with a manageable framework for discussion. Technology refers not only to the bare-bones definition of ‘non-natural objects of all kinds manufactured by humans’, but also to the environments and systems needed for these objects to emerge materially, to the knowledge and know-how required for their functioning, and to the forces of all of these elements, which combined – and with human input – are necessary to accomplish output tasks that human endeavour alone would be incapable of achieving. In other words, technology refers to the combined forces that extend human capacities (Kline, 2003). The philosophical, historical, scientific, technical and general academic study of technologies has largely relied on descriptive and utilitarian approaches throughout its collective history of reflecting on their...
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