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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 12, Issue 3, Fall 2008

Jim Gerrie
Pages 184-194

Three Species of Technological Dependency

One can find from a survey of the work of three prominent philosophers of technology in the late twentieth century, a very different kind of metaphor for describing the powerful, but not fully determinative influence that technology has on our lives. These three theories each centre on a concept I call "technological dependency." The most prominent exponents of technological dependency are Marshall McLuhan, Herbert Marcuse and Jacques Ellul. Although there are similarities between their descriptions of the phenomenon of dependency, their discussions of this phenomenon are focused around very different sub-metaphors for describing the nature of the dependency. McLuhan portrays our relationship with technology as capable of becoming a form of addiction or habit, Marcuse portrays it as a form of bribery, and Jacques Ellul portrays it as a form of religious cultism.

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