During the seventeenth century, the term “technology” was used to refer to a variety of techniques, tools, and applied arts. It later began to mean machinery, processes, and scientific progress.
Technology is used by businesses to produce and deliver products on time. It is also used to communicate ideas and information. Many businesses use it to stay competitive. However, new technologies can be harmful to individuals and groups.
In order to understand technology, it is important to know its origins. The term “technology” is derived from ancient Greek words that translate to art and speech. During the Middle Ages, technological progress was great. However, it was slow and expensive.
The Industrial Revolution, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, triggered a period of positive opinion about technology. However, a critical attitude dominated philosophical reflection on technology during the late nineteenth century. During this period, representatives of the critical attitude were schooled in social sciences and had little first-hand knowledge of engineering practice.
A third early contribution to technology theory is Aristotle’s doctrine of the four causes. In his Physics II.2, Aristotle described the four causes of an object as: “it is the cause of its production or imitating nature, the cause of its destruction, the cause of its use, and the cause of its disposal.”
During the nineteenth century, philosophical reflection on technology did not grow as rapidly as other areas of philosophy. In fact, philosophers and technologists were often too far apart to discuss foundational issues.