Quasitheological interpretation of J. Ellul, Neo-Marxist interpretation...

2.14. Quasitheological interpretation of J. Ellulus

The French philosopher Jacques Ellul (1912-1994) turned to the analysis of the phenomenon of technology, being impressed by the works of Karl Marx, who paid much attention to the bundle "capital - technology". However, unlike Marx, Ellul decided that the main content of modern society is not capital, but technology. As a universal social force, technology becomes our environment, which completely replaced nature: "What matters is the Technique". If the phenomenon of technology is not realized, then it is impossible to resist its expansion. In this case, everything is subject to technology: politics, art, and everyday life. To neglect the study of technology is dangerous, since the lot of people then is not liberation, but enslavement. People are doomed to live in the technical world, but it can be adapted to our aspirations, which are expressed as follows:

1) Help third the world;

2) refusal to use power;

3) development of people's abilities;

4) a sharp reduction in working time;

5) saving any time.

As we see, Ellul puts forward a number of requirements that have a social, political and economic nature. The development of technology is compatible with them, therefore the philosopher considers possible the release from technology as a blind force, which supposedly inevitably enslaves people. There is no need for demonization of technology: it is much more important to understand the possibilities of development of a person living in an anthropogenic epoch. But what is the highest criterion of human authenticity? Eclul does not find it in Marxism. In this regard, he refers to Christian theology, according to which "God is love."

Theological, neo-Marxist and neo-anarchic ideas coexist peacefully in the work of Ellul, but in the final analysis, the first of them concentrated in the concept of divine love is given priority. According to the interpretation of Ellly, the Bible, as well as any other work, deserves criticism. In particular, it is not true that life on Earth can not become a paradise for people. But in any case, the principle of love remains in force.

In his reasoning, Ellul manages with the concepts of social sciences and theology, and, in fact, does not reach the concepts of technical sciences. As a result, his refrain "What matters - so is the Technique". begins to sound somehow muffled. The support of the world is, after all, not a technique, but concepts of social knowledge, and not necessarily scientific. Once again, the interpretation of technology is devoid of meta-scientific content.


1. G. Ellul, following the idea of ​​Marxism, seeks to fit the technique into the social context.

2. At the decisive moment J. Ellull turns to theology, but passes by the potential of the sciences.

2.15. The neo-Marxist interpretation of T. Adorno, G. Marcuse and E. Finberg

In the XIX century. there was no economic and political movement that would concentrate its attention on the phenomenon of technology to a greater extent than Marxism. Karl Marx laid the foundations of the philosophical tradition that extends to our days, so it is necessary at least briefly to outline the main milestones of its long development.

Historical excursion

Karl Marx (1818-1883) is widely known as the founder of the materialist understanding of history, according to which the "way of producing material life determines the social, political and spiritual processes of life in general". The mode of production includes production relations, which correspond to a certain stage in the development of their material productive forces. Productive forces include the material and subjective factors that in modern society are represented in the most developed form by science.

Here we are forced to point out the inadequate consistency of Marx's views. All our attempts to present his views in a consistent manner did not lead to decisive success. This was not done in the works of other authors. It is not clear that Marx stands in the first place - whether the economic economy, or technology, which includes the means of labor. Many of his conclusions speak for the first solution, because it's no accident that he positions himself as an economist. Nevertheless, when Marx characterizes the productive forces, he in every way emphasizes the paramount relevance of the mechanized technique. However, technology is invented and driven by a person, therefore, personal factors are more important than real-technical factors. But recognizing this, the very materialistic understanding of history will have to be questioned, for personal factors are spiritual. At the same time, in Marx's views there are such provisions that, when combined into a system, do not contradict each other:

1. Technique - one of the most important factors in the life of society, the relevance of which is constantly growing.

2. Under capitalism, the use of technology is directed at the intensification of human exploitation.

3. Under socialism, technology promotes the harmonious development of the personality.

In the XX century. Marxism became the subject of research both in the Soviet Union and in the West. In the USSR, the criticism of Marx's views was forbidden, and therefore the contradictions in the views of the classic were not overcome in the works of Soviet authors. In the West, Marxism was assessed in a more relaxed manner. In this sense the most important was the Frankfurt School, , directly created for the further development of Marxist views. In fact, this is a variant of neo-Marxism.

Interpretation of the nature of technology by representatives of the Frankfurt School. When characterizing the Frankfurt School, the first and second generation of its representatives are usually singled out. The leaders of the first generation were Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) and Theodor Adorno (1903-1969), the second - Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) and Jurgen Habermas (born 1929). All these authors, with the exception of Horkheimer, sought to determine the social status of technology. Their decisive idea was that in the sphere of technical activity the critical mind, which is necessary for the free development of the personality, but the instrumental one, dominates. Because of this, the technique is secondary.

Theodore Adorno emphasized that "technology is neither the primary social essence, nor humanity, but only something derivative, a form of organizing human labor." He believed that scientists, including technologists, because of the specialization of labor, do not see society as a whole. Therefore, they, as well as scientists of all other specialties, are able to characterize technology only one-sidedly, inevitably coming into conflict with humanism. The way out of this situation, he never found.

Herbert Marcuse approached the evaluation of technology and science with the measures of their increasing rationality. Following the sociologist Max Weber, he argued that rationalization leads to the bureaucratization of society, i.e. The exploitation potential is concentrated in the rationalization itself. In this connection, technology and science become independent forces, become forms not so much of knowledge as of ideology, subordinating all spheres of life to themselves. The drama lies in the fact that it is impossible to abandon technology, and as a result, a destructive principle is formed, which is expressed in the inevitability of the enslavement of man and nature by technology. But is there a way out of this situation? Hope is mainly due to the dialectic of the development of society, where constructive forces are inevitably intertwined with deconstruction.

To the extent that consciousness is determined by the needs and interests of society, it is "unfree"; to the extent that the existing society is irrational, consciousness becomes free only in the struggle against it in the name of the highest historical rationality. "

Such a response to Marcuse did not satisfy Jurgen Habermas, who timed to the 70th birthday of his older friend the book "Technology and Science as" ideology " (1968). His main idea is that the communicative mind, realized in discursive practice and considering the desirability and fruitfulness of certain norms, overcomes the possible repressive nature of technology. There is no need to abandon the technical mind: it is enough to put it in a subordinate position in relation to social norms. Later, in his numerous publications, Habermas began to associate the institution of social norms with discursive ethics. Thus, Habermas characterizes the technical mind as instrumental, but softens this interpretation by affirming the possibility of harmony between the instrumental and communicative mind.

The interpretation of the nature of technology by North American authors. Turning to the analysis of the neo-Marxist trend in the North American region, primarily in the US and Canada, we will see that even here criticism of technology is in high esteem. Many authors are developing the philosophy of technical science in the neo-Marxist spirit, in particular, Marx Vartofsky (born 1928), Robert Cohen (born 1923), Andrew Finberg (born 1943). Of particular interest are the numerous works of the Canadian-American philosopher of technique Andrew Finberg. As a basis for the analysis, we decided to select one of his recent works with the characteristic title "Heidegger and Marcuse: Catastrophe and the Atonement of History" (2005).

Theoretical development

Andrew Finberg is looking for ways to liberate modern society from the imposed global technological determinism, from which it seems like not to dodge. Fruitful ideas on this subject he finds in Heidegger and Marcuse. Martin Heidegger insisted on the need to preserve all the wealth of the world, which in no case should be impoverished. The technical world needs to be transformed in such a way that it resembles the world of art.

Herbert Marcuse eventually went in the same direction. In 1969, he proposed an aesthetic theory of the human sensory world, while "aesthetics" was understood by them not so much as the achievement of sublime emotional affects, but rather as a love of life, involving an indefinite eroticism. Finberg resolutely joins Marcuse: deliverance is not science, but the pursuit of a wealth of life experience, the incompleteness and imperfection of which drives man to move forward.

It should be noted that within the framework of neo-Marxism, two ways of overcoming the plagues of anthropogenic civilization were outlined. According to the first of these, deliverance comes from aesthetics (T. Adorno, G. Marcuse). Under the second approach, the person's liberation is connected with ethics (Yu Habermas, K.-O. Apel). Finberg from the second path is denied, because ethics tends to universal principles that lead to impoverishment of life.

Theoretical development

In the shortest form, the theory E. Finberg is as follows:

1. Technical factors are inseparable from social ones, and the latter are the most relevant ones.

2. When interpreting the technique, one should use the historical method, taking into account the different direction of the evolution of technology.

3. Technology requires a democratic social order.

4. Technical artifacts should be considered not only on their own, but also in the horizons of aesthetics and ethics, i.e. metatheory.

5. The wealth of the sensory world is represented primarily in aesthetics, and not in ethics that gravitates toward the conceptual order of science.

6. The aestheticization of the sensory world of man, the subject of anthropogenic civilization, is a coveted lighthouse in its life vicissitudes.

Numerous arguments were put forward against the neo-Marxists. The most common are the following three. First, in no country in the world has the Marxist program led to the desired successes. Secondly, it is a social utopia. Thirdly, aesthetically oriented researchers are accused of irrationalism. These accusations are followed by counter-arguments. The first argument is rejected insofar as the overwhelming majority of neo-Marxists present themselves not as supporters of communist regimes, but as critics of modern capitalist society professing the ideals of globalism. The accusation of utopianism is also refuted, for there is no alternative to the criticism mentioned above. The reproach in immorality is also not accepted. E. Finberg, for example, notes that he is not against the institution of social norms, but against their absolutization in ethical theories.

Note that Marxists and neo-Marxists can not escape the temptation of metaphysics. The researcher, focusing on meta-science, examines the range of problems of interest to neo-Marxists, as follows. Consider, on the one hand, technical sciences, and on the other - social disciplines. Let us single out their concepts, and then determine to what extent they contribute or hinder social and technical progress. In this case, the program of further actions becomes quite obvious. The curse of universal rationalization disappears by itself.


1. Marxists tend to view technology as a social phenomenon, believing that if it is distorted, then technology becomes an ideology.

2. To avoid the transformation of technology into an ideology, it should be given an ethical or aesthetic appearance.

thematic pictures

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)