Individual Rationalism and Technological Rationalism

In many researches done in recent decades, theorists and other scholars have tried to demonstrate that human responses tend to deviate from the performance deemed normative according to various models of rational judgment and decision making. Individual rationality is therefore ways by which individual persons are able to analyze different situations and be able to make their own decisions and Judgments without any external influence. It can be compared to the type of lives people used to live during the pre-industrialization era. In this era, the main means of production was home based and in small scales where people were used to manufacture their food, clothes among other utilities.
 Technological rationalism is a mechanism that is usually associated with the industrial revolution where technology and new machines replaced the home based industries. Some theorists have argued that it the one which promoted modern development though it has weakened the human capacity over time which is quite critical.

Comparison and contrast between Marcues article and Forsters book
In the book The machine Stops Forster tries to describe a world in which almost all the society has lost the ability to survive on the earths surface and hence decided to live below the ground. Each person therefore decides to live alone and in isolation with all their spiritual and bodily needs met by the omnipotent universal Machine. Travel is allowed but its quite unpopular since its not necessary. The book dwells on two main characters namely Vashti and her son Kuno. The two live on the opposite sides of the world. Kuno tries to persuade his mother to endure a journey to his cell. He pleads with Vashti to stop being disappointed with the sensitized mechanical world. All the humans in the book come up with a kind of religion in which the machine is worshipped and they forget that it was them who invented the same machine. (Forster 321) The machine finally collapses and its civilization ends. The book tries to raise a concern that in the 20th Century man was in peril since he was depending more and more on technology for his survival without realizing that it was himself who created it. Its similarity with the article by Marcues is that they both dislike the effects that modern technology has befallen upon mankind. Marcues on the other hand tries to explain how the advent of technology has managed to destroy the previous and old-fashioned social structures of individual rationality and replaced it with technological rationality. (Forster 330)

On the other hand, the two books differ in that, in The machine Stops Forster tries to depict humanity as total dependants and worshipers of technology which is not the case as in Some Social Implications of Modern Technology which say that though is dependant on modern technology, he can still be able to find ways of including these modern technologies and come up with better ways liberating himself and ensuring that he lives in peace and harmony.

Summary of Some Social Implications of Modern Technology by Herbert Marcues

Herbert Marcues in his article titled Some Social Implications of Modern Technology tries to argue on the role of technology in modern industrial societies. In this article, he describes the historical decline of individualism from the bourgeois revolution times to the rise modern technological advancements. He claims that individual rationality was won in the struggle against regnant superstitions and also irrationality.

    According to the critical social theory developed by him, science and technology can be viewed as instruments of political and social domination. He also spoke of the technological a priori of the scientific and technical rationality that tend to project nature as potential instrumentality. Technological rationality homogenizes and harmonizes people and nature into neutral and inert objects that are subject to manipulation.

    Rationality is without difficulty co-opted by political and economic power. Science and technology however merely function in the service of social control. They could also be transformed to serve different ends, such as freedom, individuality and creativity. In the article, Marcues argues that technological rationality tend to undermine traditional individual rationality which stands for autonomy. It does this by employing efficiency as a lone standard of the efficiency notion to induce people to accept standardization, mass production, mechanization and bureaucracy. Marcues consequently argues that, appeals to enlighten and inform self interest and autonomy is viewed as progressively appealing, old fashioned and irrational in the face of technological rationality which makes compliance to seem quite reasonable and protest on the other hand seem unreasonable. (Mercuse 43)

    At around the mid 20th Century, political powers like fascism, state capitalism, and state socialism developed ostensibly rational and even pleasurable means of social control which integrated persons into a homogenous society. This resulted in the formation of a one dimensional society. Such a society is what eroded the capacity for individuality, practical resistance and critical thinking. Marcues however maintains that the same impersonal rationality which made individualism to become unnecessary could be collected to achieve positive results rather than repress human capacities.

    Technological rationality could also be used as an instrument to promote democracy, individuality and autonomy. Marcues is however pessimistic about the prospects and prediction for that transformation since the technological apparatus tends to include all opposition, he also maintained that it was principally possible. (Mercuse 57)

    Marcues continues to argue that the advanced and progressed industrialized societies are fond of employing science and technology to serve the existing systems of production and consumption and claimed that the technological reality required transformation itself if it were to lead to real human liberation, it could remain value neutral. His analysis of the role of science and technology in the manipulation of human needs through marketing, advertising and mass media was also extended. In order to increase productivity and dominate human and nature, the scientific and technical aspects of the society must be used. This will aid in creating a one dimensional individual who is readily conformed to a society that contributes in limiting freedom, stifles creativity, imposes false needs and co-opts all resistances. (Mercuse 63)

    Finally Marcues expresses hope that the society will one day develop technologies meant for the pacification of the struggle for existence. This will aid in reducing suffering and promoting peace and happiness. To develop these technologies he adds will require a political reversal.  In addition to that, a far-reaching and major shift from existing capitalistic mode of production is required to generate a new science and technology that would become the instruments of liberation and not domination. The new technologies will also bring new modes of energy sources, cooperative production, management and societies. On the other hand, the new science of liberation would serve the interests of freedom and will also help in satisfying the genuine and legitimate human needs.


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