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Indeed, it is a well known fact that philosophy has the potency to not only determine the economic mode of production, but to catalyze the rate of technological advancement in any given country. The veracity of this standpoint is always made manifest in the fact that states that always suppress ideals such as free thinking, self determination and freedom of conscience have always been less developed, technologically. It is against this backdrop that it can be lucidly posited that philosophy and technological advancement to be inextricably integrated, so that the two are mutually dependent on each other. This postulation shall be illustrated and defended in the discussion as it unfolds forthwith.
Identifying Philosophies That Accompanied Technological Growth. Behind the technological advancements that man has continually witnessed, philosophy reigns supreme as the hotbed of scientific investigation and studies. Interestingly, although many readily divorce earlier spirituality and religion from technological progress due to the fact that venturing into the practical and the material was shunned, yet it remains a fact that philosophical standpoints held by Christian reformists such as John Calvin led technological advancements into stardom. For instance, the idea that "Work is (a form of) worship" is known to have positively contributed to the culture of hardwork. With the laborers having worked for their lords ideally as unto the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the realization of surplus capital became a reality by the capital owners.
At the time, wealth had become increasingly and selectively concentrated in the hands of the few elite, so that bigger investments which required bigger technological projects became available. This surplus capital in turn gave rise to room for the devising of new ways of overcoming the limits of using manual manpower as the chief source of labor. Partly, the need for profit maximization played a role in this above development, given that laborers were being seen as an expensive recourse to any other source of labor, due to the payment of wages and the high employee turnover.
In a different wavelength, as an ideology, colonialism is known to have played an enhancing role towards the realization of technological advancement and industrialization. With the concentration of surplus in the hands of a few, the local laborers in Europe had lower purchasing power as lower emoluments starkly and largely characterized their pay. Subsequently, the need to explore the globe to seek after colonies as sources of new markets for the surplus products which had been accrued became clear and more irresistible.
At the same time, it is important to note that in the quest for newer colonies, there was the need to also find raw materials which was needed for the nascent technological growth which had been taking place in England and Europe. It is against the backdrop of the ideals of colonialism that the First World War and World War II were fought. Indeed, technological underpinnings can never be sidestepped when analyzing the First World War and World War II, since for instance; arms race was an antecedent factor that triggered World War I. the militarization of a given is definitely the epitome of technological advancement. Britain, having made its Dreadnought, was totally offended when Germany made its battle ship as a counteroffensive.
Other schools of philosophical thoughts are known to have indirectly had a hand in the development, growth and widespread use of technology. For instance, led by Jeremy Bentham, Utilitarians postulated that a move or an action can be judged as being ethically right when it served the greatest point of happiness or good for the greatest number of people. Thus, embracing technological tools and equipment in factory and industrial setting increasingly became acceptable, even in the face of the sad fact many laborers were forfeiting their jobs to machines. Subsequently, this led to the critical striking of the relationship or equilibrium between demand and the existence and thriving of technological development.
The above development runs in a direction totally opposite to the path which consequentialists, Deontologists and the proponents of the Ethics of Care would have recommended. This is because consequentialists consider the outcome of an action so as to render it as ethically moral or immoral. On the other hand, deontologists would also have condemned technological advancement on the account that based on the basic moral law; it was entrenching misery among families as it enhanced the taking over of citizens' jobs from the laborers by machines. Thus, in a nutshell, utilitarianism as a philosophy helped in the advancement and growth of technology.
Analyzing the Causes/Effects of Technological Growth from Cultural, Scientific and Humanistic Viewpoints. Technological growth is a development that took place, having been underpinned by several factors which may be cultural, scientific and humanistic, among others. Technological advancement may be dependent on a people's total way of life. Societies which have embraced free thinking and independence and open reasoning and systematic questionings and investigation have always developed technologically, as opposed to their counterparts which have always stifled the questioning of authority and dissent.
Scharff and Dusek (22) maintain that the situation above is elucidated by the situation which prevailed in the United Kingdom and in Europe. The renaissance age is known to have critically affected and catalyzed the industrial revolution in England. The Renaissance in this case was merely a cultural movement dating between the 14th and 17th century, starting from Florence in the mediaeval era, to the rest of Europe. As a cultural movement, the renaissance encompassed: the resurgence of learning which was based on classical sources; the gradual and ubiquitous educational reform; and the development of linear perspectives in painting. To this era, the renaissance was seen as the nexus between the Modern era and the Middle Ages. Intellectual pursuits, and to an extent, together with political upheavals is known to have acted as the watershed for the renaissance age.
It can therefore be argued out that the cultural observation during the renaissance age spurred on the advancement in technological development. For instance, it is during this age that Leonardo da Vinci set up controlled experiments in medical dissection, water flow, aerodynamics and the systematic study of motion. It is also during this renaissance age that the world began to focus on the importance of mathematics, mechanical philosophy (as opposed to the Aristotelian "final cause") and empirical evidence. These above in turn made it possible for human civilization to make inroads into reputable scientific and technological fields such as physics, astronomy, biology and anatomy.
According to Drengson (125), scientific advancements are also responsible for the spread of technological advancement. This can be seen in the reality of history. After the aforementioned renaissance, agrarian revolution took place in between the 17th and 19th centuries, with the realization of the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries being the culmination of this chain reaction. Industrial revolution, being characterized by major changes in manufacturing, transportation, mining and agriculture eventually paved way for technological advancements in Britain, then Europe, north America and ultimately, to the rest of the world.
This above is because the need to increase productivity in the factories found efficiency as the most important value and rule to apply. Thus, the need for mechanical tools and equipment became adopted as the best recourse to manpower by factory owners, engineers and industrialists. It is in respect to this development above that a lot of technological advancements were made in the second half of the 18th century. For instance, after the Spinning Jenny was introduced by Samuel Crompton, the steam engine came along as James Watt's invention in 1775, thereby enabling the pumping of water away from mines, while serving as a better source of power, compared to manpower.
At the base of the philosophy that has been being used by scientists as the main cause of technological advancement is empiricism. Empiricism in philosophy as a theory of knowledge asserts that knowledge can only come through the sensory experience. This is to the effect that evidence and experience remain the most important values in the formation of ideas, as opposed to tradition and innately held ideas. This is also opposed to rationalism which tends towards reasoning and incorporates innate knowledge.
Conversely, humanistic viewpoints are known to have been peddled as an explanation to technological development. Although historians have never come to a consensus on the definition of humanism, yet, humanists have always asserted the genius of man, as wells as the unique and the extraordinary capabilities of the human mind. Apart from the assertion on the importance of the civic humanism as the best way of ensuring tractable governance, humanists believed in the need and feasibility in efforts towards the achieving the transcendence into afterlife with a perfect life and body. Humanism believed that this value was best achievable through education. The main purpose of the humanism has been the creation of the universal man whose person totally integrates physical and intellectual excellence, so that this man is able to function competently and honorably in any situation or position, virtually.
From the above development, it is easily deducible that humanists set the stage for the realization of technological advancement. Particularly, the emphasis on the genius of man, as wells as the unique and the extraordinary capabilities of the human mind is known to have spurred on the exploitation of the human mind and logic. It is these which have continually formed the basic of science. Science catapulted industrial and technological advancement.
As a side note, it is interesting to note that the humanist conjuring of attaining the transcendence into afterlife with a perfect life and body and the creation of the universal man whose person totally integrates physical and intellectual excellence, so that this man is able to function competently and honorably in any situation or position forms the basis of transhumanism (or posthumanism). In spite of the ethical, philosophical and legal controversies as well as the accusations of playing the hubris of man, transhumanism is indeed the highest form of technological advancement which may ever be known to man. Herein, it is imperative to take to stock, the fact that technological growth and development is not only limited to the factory, the chemical, the mechanical and the industrial, but on the contrary, it is a construct large enough, even covering biological technology. It is against this backdrop that there is biological engineering as a facet of biological technology (Ihde, 34).
The effects of technological growth and advancement are pervasive and readily perceptible, with the effects harboring both negative and positive attributes. Through technological advancement, globalization has taken full throttle and shape, thereby rendering the world one global village. This is because, apart from the political pacts and international law and diplomacy, technological advancement allows for the decoupling of time and space which exist between body polities. It is against this backdrop that economic liberalization and international trade can be felt as being in total effect. This is especially the case when technological advancements in the IT sector are considered. Through advancement in the IT sector, e-learning and ecommerce have materialized, making the instantaneous exchange of ideas and goods and services a possibility.
At the same time, technology has helped improve the quality and longevity of human life. It is through technological advancement in the field of modern medicine that cures to certain diseases and vaccines to illnesses such as poliomyelitis, smallpox, bacillus, and others have been found. It is still through technological advancement that drought, pest and disease resistant farming has been introduced as the corrective mechanism to the problem of food shortage and famine (Balakrishnan, 76).
Nevertheless, there are several side-effects which accompany technological advancement. In the book, the MacDonaldisation of Society, Ritzer (45) argues that because of technological advancement for instance, is the creation of consumer workers. This happens when consumers are tricked into being unpaid employees as they perform the work that was traditionally being done by the company. This is exemplified in the salad bars, the ATMs, the pumping gas facilities and the automated phone menus. Among other disadvantages, technological advancement has witnessed the taking over of man's work by machines, thereby leading to the worldwide perennial problem of unemployment.
Conclusion: Personal Support and Reasons for the Personal Standpoint Taken In respect to the above argument, the humanist approach in the explanation of technological advancement remains the most cogent and credible. This is because; at the center of technological growth and industrialization is the genius of the human mind, its ability to conjure ideas and to work towards the attainment of these ideas. Without the human mind, the human civilization would be archaic and bereft of any technological advancement if at existing.