Culture, Analysis, and Technics in German Engineering


Culture, Analysis, and Technics in German Engineering

Technology is the collection of any methods, techniques, processes, and skills used in the achievement of specific objectives, for the creation of new products or services, or in the performance of existing projects, such as scientific research. There are numerous fields of technological development. In business, technology can refer to any of the following: new product development, new processes developed for producing, or new information management and communication systems developed for specific purposes. In education, technology is also used in the fields of instructional design, technical writing, educational communication, and other related fields.

Schatzberg’s Thematic Map is a useful tool for identifying conceptual extensions of traditional explanatory approaches. Thematic maps have been widely used both in teaching and research settings. Specifically, the term technology is used to refer to a number of phenomena that are considered to be associated with Schatzberg’s (1990, cited above) Techne cognitive modeling. Thematic maps have been used to explain a number of diverse issues, including: communication technology, computer technology, industrial technology, engineering technology, manufacturing technology, information technology, and interpersonal technology.

Technology and applied science can be viewed through the lenses of several philosophers, most prominently Aristotle. In the Analesipta, Aristotle referred to the technology as the means by which we can master the elements of body, soul, and mind. He further suggested that there are four distinct types of technology, which include natural, formal, human, and technical. According to Aristotle, technical objects are those that are developed by human hands. Specifically, Aristotle contends that there are four types of technological systems: Practical, Efficient, Egoic, and Artificial.

In his classic study, Thealogy of Technology, schatzberg distinguished between two fundamentally different concepts, which he labeled mechanics and metallurgy. According to Aristotle, technology pertains to “the art and science of causing things to be done,” while metallurgy refers to “the art and science of creating and using metals.” Schatzberg further explained that a distinction should be made between technological systems that produce efficient results and those that do not.

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, German engineers began to apply the term technology to describe their field of endeavor. For example, the German industrialist August Becker repeatedly cited the term technology during his lengthy diaries. However, Becker did not use the term for an extended period of time, whereas other industrialists such as the engineering genius von Siemens used the term extensively in both his writings and talks.

In discussing Becker’s concept of technics, Rorty makes three primary points. First, he notes that Becker distinguished between two fundamentally different conceptions of technology, the analytical category and the constructional category. Secondly, he noted that Becker rejected the idea of a single analytical category, opting instead for a multiple dependent conception of technology. Lastly, he suggested that his notion of technics might best be described as a cultural approach to understanding technology. I would agree with both of these arguments.