Philosophical Framework for inquiry

Essay by: Muhammad Hozien


This page is based on a reading of the Following text:

F. Ferre, Philosophy of Technology (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1995). ISBN: 0-8203-1761-6.

INQUIRY: n. 1. The act of inquiring. 2. A question; a query. 3. A close examination of a matter in a search for information or truth.

Philosophy is defined as a sustained effort to wonder critically about comprehensive issues. The philosophical wondering here is meant to be critical in a careful and disciplined sense. It is a sustained way of wondering that is both comprehensive and critical.

The comprehensive here is that its scope is comprehensive. It includes epistemology, the study of knowledge in general; axiology, the study of what is valuable and of value; metaphysics, the study of what is real.

Philosophy is critical wondering, not only is it comprehensive in its questioning, but it is also critical in its methods. It has consistency, coherence and adequacy, both conceptual and empirical. Parts of a theory must not cancel each other to produce irreconcilable differences, it must posses a logical consistency as well as logical coherence in which there is no unresolved contradictions.

Technology is defined as the practical implementation of intelligence. Further technology is not "empty handed", nor is it "done for its own sake", or is "in the head" only and it is not "blind."

There is a reciprocal relationship between science and technology, since it is through science that technology advanced. It is also true that science has advanced through technology.

Artifact is defined as a product of intelligence. It could have artistic value so long as it has a practical use to it. Artificial is defined as something that is opposed to natural. It is also defined in varying degrees of artificialness. For example an urban skyline is more artificial than a farm landscape. A farm, with its rows of well-groomed and lined trees, is more artificial than a Forrest is.

Naturalness is defined in terms of the opposite of artificial. It is something that is independent of intervention of intelligence. I have a problem with this definition. I consider beaver dams as natural. If the beaver population of North America decided to build dams across the Mississippi to stop it from flowing this would be artificial and therefore unnatural.

Nature is defined as all that exists apart from the artificial, all that exists in the evolving universe of space and time, and all that develops according to its kind without outside interference.

Is the Alien, in the Movie Alien natural or unnatural? Are the borg, the communal cyborg menace in Star Trek the next generation, natural or artificial? What is natural or artificial in the latest Star Wars movie?

Philosophy of technology simply put is philosophy dealing with special area of interest. Since technology is all pervasive in our environment it is worthy of study. Technology and epistemology are related, as is technology and science. A key question is extent to which scientific knowledge is an artifact of our technology, namely instruments and techniques. Technology and axiology are also related. As the technology that we create is based on our values. Technology extends our power. Aristotle pointed out that one could only deliberate about what is within one's power to do. Therefore we will be faced with issues that were never faced by earlier generations. It is philosophy that can be used to ponder on these issues as they arise.

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Essay by: Muhammad Hozien


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