The Technological Society Critical Context - Essay

Jacques Ellul

Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: Nonfiction Masterpieces)

Ellul’s work falls within the genre of studies that criticize the nature of modern technological society. Aldous Huxley, who introduced Ellul to the United States in conversations at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara in 1959-1960, said that Ellul’s work made the case he had tried to make in his Brave New World (1932). Ellul’s path-breaking analysis of the impact of technique on all aspects of society spawned a host of related studies in the two decades following the publication of his book in the United States. Fritjof Capra’s The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture (1982) offers a penetrating critique of Cartesian-Newtonian thought, focusing particularly on what he calls the mechanistic view of life. Mihajlo Mesarovic and Eduard Pestel’s Mankind at the Turning Point: The Second Report to the Club of Rome (1974) argues, as does Ellul, that unbridled economic and technological invention are straining the carrying capacity of the world.

Ellul emphasized the threat posed to the natural environment by technique. His warnings in this area have been echoed by countless other authors, including David Ehrenfeld, whose The Arrogance of Humanism (1978) criticizes technique’s confidence that progress is inevitable and that man can surmount any and all natural barriers to technological development. His criticism of technique is based upon his Christian faith. In...

(The entire section is 459 words.)