Freud and Postman on technology

Topics: Petroleum, Technology, History of technology Pages: 4 (1387 words) Published: March 27, 2014

It may be hard for an individual to look at an object such as a tomato and think of that tomato as a technology. When one looks a little closer, they may notice that the tomato is extremely large, has very shiny skin, and shows no signs of parasite damage. After gaining an understanding that the tomato may be a genetically modified organism, a “GMO”, it is easier to look at the tomato as a technology that is altering the way we farm, control insects, and feed the world. That tomato will have implications on the environment, the people who consume it, and the business world that is in charge of its distribution. When one takes all of the aspects of technology into consideration, it is easy to see how Sigmund Freud and Neil Postman adopt an ambivalent stance relative to technology in their respective essays Civilization and its Discontents and The Judgment of Thamus.

In The Judgment of Thamus, Postman writes, “it is not always clear, at least in the early stages of a technology’s intrusion to a culture, who will gain the most by it and who will lose the most” (Postman 12). This statement by Postman shows his belief that in the beginning stages of newly introduced technology, the technology itself is neutral. If technology itself is neutral, it is the users of the technology, the skeptics, and the environment who will ultimately predict the winners and the losers. Let’s think about the automobile for an example and the effects that it has produced on our world thus far. Such positives may include countless jobs for assembly line workers, abilities to travel long distances with relative ease, improved perceived social status, and a certain cultural uniformity within certain societies. Negative elements stemming from the automobile may include irreversible damage caused to our environment from the oil and fuel that is necessary to run the automobile, an increased segregation of classes based on the social status that certain automobiles carry, and also the...
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