For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Critical theory of technology: An overview"

by Feenberg, Andrew (2008)


What makes technical action different from other relations to reality? This question is often answered in terms of notions such as efficiency or control, which are themselves internal to a technical approach to the world. To judge an action as more or less efficient is already to have determined it to be technical and therefore an appropriate object of such a judgment. Similarly, the concept of control implied in technique is “technical” and so not a distinguishing criterion. There is tradition in philosophy of technology that resolves this problem by invoking the concept of “impersonal domination” first found in Marx’s description of capitalism. This tradition, associated with Heidegger and the Frankfurt School, remains too abstract to satisfy us today but it does identify an extraordinary feature of technical action.

Key Passage

According to Heidegger’s history of being, the modern “revealing” is biased by a tendency to take every object as a potential raw material for technical action. Objects enter our experience only in so far as we notice theirusefulness in the technological system. Release from this form of experience may come from a new mode of revealing, but Heidegger has no idea how revealings come and go.  (p.32)


Feenberg, Heidegger, Marx, Frankfurt School, Technology, Critical Theory, Technical Action


Technology, On Heidegger

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