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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 17, Issue 1, Winter 2013

Extending Feenberg: Toward the Instrumentalization of the Critical Theory of Technology

Andrew Feenberg
Pages 7-24
DOI: 10.5840/techne20131712

The Mediation is the Message
Rationality and Agency in the Critical Theory of Technology

Critical theory of technology brings technology studies to bear on the social theory of rationality. This paper discusses this connection through a reconsideration of the contribution of the Frankfurt School to our understanding of what I call the paradox of rationality, the fact that the promise of the Enlightenment has been disappointed as advances in scientific and technical knowledge have led to more and more catastrophic consequences. The challenge for critical theory is to understand this paradox without romantic and anti-modern afterthoughts as a contribution to a progressive worldview.