By Friedrich Rapp (auth.)

Friedrich Rapp, during this magisterial and demanding essay on know-how, the complicated human phenomenon that calls for philosophy of technology, philosophy of tradition, ethical perception, and historic sensi­ tivity for its realizing, writes modestly of the grave and ten­ tative scenario within the philosophy of expertise. regardless of the professional­ came across thinkers who've committed time and mind's eye and ratio­ nal penetration, regardless of the big literature now to be had, the various and comparative viewpoints of political, analytic, regardless of metaphysical, cultural, even esthetic commitments, certainly regardless of the sincere becoming a member of of ancient and systematic tools of inves­ tigation, we're faraway from a passable knowing of the fun and sorrows, the achievements and disappointments, of the tech­ nological saga of human societies. Professor Rapp has ready this document at the philosophical figuring out of know-how for a stricken international; if ever philosophy have been wanted, it truly is within the prac­ tical try to locate possible choices between applied sciences, to foresee hazards and possibilities, to settle on with a feeling of the possibil­ ity of satisfying humane values. Emerson pointed out the coed no longer as a expert aside, yet as 'Man considering' and Rapp's essay so speaks to we all, business international or 3rd international, engineers or humanists, drained or lively, anxious or optimistic.

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Any corrections of this kind, however, are only modifications of the general trend which is towards ever increasing technological perfection. Granted the fact of historical diversity, technological procedures, nevertheless, always exhibit common features. While it is their concrete embodiment which determines the character of any particular era, such features make possible a supra-historical structural description of technology. In the first place, technological action is always tied to ideological presuppositions, such as a certain world view and a corresponding state of technical knowledge.

To avoid unnecessary complication, we consider here only present-day usage; for the historical development of the concept of 'technology', cf. 2). In the narrow sense, we understand 'technology' as 'technique' - a certain procedure. This refers in the simplest case to a learnable skill, such as the technique of driving a car, playing the piano, or skating. Complex processes which are the result of collective action, however, are also rule-governed and goal-oriented and thus dependent on a certain technique.

All classical machines, which consist of an energy source, transmission mechanism, and a particular operational apparatus, nevertheless, are still controlled by man. (3) With the automated machine, the application of cybernetic principles of control and regulation renders largely superfluous even the control function supplied by man. We are not THE CONCEPT OF 'TECHNOLOGY' 29 dealing here with perfect automata since control and decisionmaking is still determined by a program which is of human design.

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