Horkheimer on Technology and Humanity

By Ali Yaghoubalipour and Mohd. Hazim Shah Abdul Murad.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

What is the view of Horkheimer on technology and humanity? This paper tries to explain the merit and demerit views of Horkheimer on technology and humanity.
If we focus on the view of Horkheimer, we can see that the multidiscipline of political economy, social psychology, history and philosophy are all integrated together. Horkheimer’s aim is to save modern mankind (society) from technological domination. He was the first person to talk about “irrational organization” of society in Frankfurt School. He criticized modern rationality as domination in humanity. Modern rationality dominates society by technology whereby technology is used as an instrument to dominate humanity. Technology is directly related to power in modern mankind. Horkheimer criticized the principles of modern philosophers (rationalism, empiricism and positivism) because their theories were related to domination on humanity and nature by technology.
Horkheimer’s experience belonged to the World War II period. Namely how technology created atom bombs to kill thousands of people. Also, capitalists possessed technology in enslaving humans’ minds. Technology, in Horkheimer’s view is that it enslaved humanity (society) due to modern rationality. His criticism is pessimism on technology but it is also awareness for us.
Although his criticism is important on technology and modern humanity (society), technology is still considered as part of our history and it is our experience in society. Technology is related to subjectivity and objectivity. It is also an instrument that can be integrated inside humans.
Technology belongs to humans because humans themselves create it. We cannot stand outside of our creation but we can only say that humans misuse technology in society. We should try to understand the uses of our inventions. But, we cannot reject technology totally though. Technology has several kinds of forms during history. Technology gives meaning to our life and society.

Keywords: Horkheimer, Technology, Humanity, Critical Theory

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.65-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 590.528KB).

Ali Yaghoubalipour

PhD Student, Department of Science & Technology Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I am Ali Yaghoubalipour from Iran. I studied Bachelor of Philosophy at University of Allameh Tabatabaiee in Iran. I continued to study Master of Philosophy at Pune University in India. Currently, I am a Phd student in Philosophy at University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My research topic for Phd is ‘A Comparative Study of the Philosophy of Social Science of Karl Popper and Frankfurt School’.

Dr. Mohd. Hazim Shah Abdul Murad

University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Dr. Mohd Hazim Shah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies in Science from Manchester University, England, a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the London School of Economics, and a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh, U.S.A. In 1993 he was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of History & Philosophy of Science, University of Melbourne, Australia. From January to June 2008 he spent his sabbatical leave at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, as a Visiting Scholar. He is currently a Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, University of Malaya, where he teaches the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. He has been the Deputy President of the Malaysian Social Science Association since 2000. His research interest includes theoretical studies on science and culture, and comparative epistemology.


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