Science Fiction and the Essence of Technology Term Paper by Shaad

Science Fiction and the Essence of Technology
An analysis of Martin Heidegger's theories regarding the essence of technology and an exploration of how science fiction deals with technology.
# 144800 | 2,679 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2009 | BD
Published by on Oct 08, 2010 in Philosophy (Science) , Literature (General)

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This paper examines how science fiction explores the nature of technology. It starts by pointing out that the bulk of science fiction is populist, and therefore propagates the naive view of technology. This is where technology is seen as a mere instrument to satisfy human needs, and the paper shows how the instrumentalist view corresponds with the Darwinian concept of unending progress. The paper then introduces Heidegger's critique of instrumentalism, which says that instrumentalism overlooks the essence of technology as "enframing" human existence. The paper then explains why Heidegger calls technology "revealing" and why instrumentalism represents a challenging of nature, as opposed to the traditional view of technology which appeases nature. The paper then highlights the prescience of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", which explores the essence of technology so accurately. Other examples of science fiction that explore the essence of technology in the Heideggerian sense, such as Isaac Asimov's robot stories, Karel Capek "Rossum's Universal Robots" and Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" are also discussed.

From the Paper:

"The modern genre of science fiction is by and large defined by its celebratory approach to technological advance. In this way it embodies the ethos of the Enlightenment, which Condorcet had expressed through the notion of the "infinite perfectibility of man". From this point of view technology is a mere means to an end, and the end in question here is the full realization of the potential of material man. From the Industrial Revolution onwards technology becomes more and more a conscious aspect of man's life, and the conscious concept of "technology" is as a tool by which man imposes his control over nature. Despite being the general perception, the opposite perception, that technology unleashes horror onto the world, has also been entertained all along. This is the perspective of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, arguably the very first science fiction novel. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • apek, Karel. R.U.R. (Rossum's universal robots). Translated by Claudia Novack. New York: Penguin Classics, 2004.
  • Heidegger, Martin. Basic writings: from Being and time (1927) to The task of thinking (1964). New York: Taylor & Francis, 1978.
  • Lederer, Susan E; Elizabeth Fee, Patricia Tuohy. Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature. Rutgers University Press, 2002.
  • Sanders, Steven. The philosophy of science fiction film. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2007.
  • Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Collector's Library, 2004.

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