Andrew Feenberg

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Andrew Feenberg, for a critical philosophy of technology: The manuscript P2P and Human Evolution uses Andrew Feenberg's take on the philosophy of technology, which allows one to accept the determining influence of technology, as a locus for social struggle, without falling into any technological determinism. His work his well worth exploring. (comment by Michel Bauwens)


Profile from his website:

"Andrew Feenberg is Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology in the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University. He has also taught at for many years in the Philosophy Department at San Diego State University, and at Duke University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, the Universities of California, San Diego and Irvine, the Sorbonne, the University of Paris-Dauphine, the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and the University of Tokyo. He is the author of Lukacs, Marx and the Sources of Critical Theory (Rowman and Littlefield, 1981; Oxford University Press, 1986), Critical Theory of Technology (Oxford University Press, 1991), Alternative Modernity (University of California Press, 1995), and Questioning Technology (Routledge, 1999). A second edition of Critical Theory of Technology has appeared with Oxford in 2002 under the title Transforming Technology. Heidegger and Marcuse: The Catastrophe and Redemption of History is just out (Routledge 2005). Translations of several of these books are available. Dr. Feenberg is also co-editor of Marcuse: Critical Theory and the Promise of Utopia (Bergin and Garvey Press, 1988), Technology and the Politics of Knowledge (Indiana University Press, 1995), Modernity and Technology (MIT Press, 2003), and Community in the Digital Age (Rowman and Littlefield, 2004). His co-authored book on the French May Events of 1968 appeared in 2001 with SUNY Press under the title When Poetry Ruled the Streets. In addition to his work on Critical Theory and philosophy of technology, Dr. Feenberg has published on the Japanese philosopher Nishida Kitaro. He is also recognized as an early innovator in the field of online education, a field he helped to create in 1982. He is currently working on the TextWeaver Project on improving software for online discussion forums under a grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education of the US Department of Education."



Feenberg's philosophy of technology

From the Wikipedia:

"Compared to his predecessors in philosophy of technology, such as Martin Heidegger and Jacques Ellul who have a dystopian view of technology, Feenberg's view is positive even though critical. For Heidegger and Ellul technology affects people's life but is for the most part beyond their control. For Feenberg technology and society influence each other. He separate himself from the instrumentalists who view technology merely as instruments which are within human's full control.

Feenberg's primary contribution to the philosophy of technology is his argument for the democratic transformation of technology. From his book Transforming Technology,

"What human beings are and will become is decided in the shape of our tools no less than in the action of statesmen and political movements. The design of technology is thus an ontological decision fraught with political consequences. The exclusion of the vast majority from participation in this decision is profoundly undemocratic" (p.3). Feenberg provides the theoretical foundation for this idea through the Critical Theory of Technology which he develops over three books: The Critical Theory of Technology (1991) (re-published as Transforming Technology: A Critical Theory Revisited [2002]), Alternative Modernity: The Technical Turn in Philosophy and Social Theory (1995), and Questioning Technology (1999). The basis of Feenberg's critical theory of technology is a concept of dialectical technological rationality he terms instrumentalization theory. Instrumentalization theory combines the social critique of technology familiar from the philosophy of technology (Karl Marx, Herbert Marcuse, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Ellul) with insights taken from the empirical case studies of science and technology studies. Applications of his theory include studies of online education, the Minitel, the Internet, and digital games."



  • Lukacs, Marx and the Sources of Critical Theory (Rowman and Littlefield, 1981; Oxford University Press, 1986)
  • Critical Theory of Technology (Oxford University Press, 1991), later republished as Transforming Technology (Oxford University Press, 2002), see below.
  • Alternative Modernity (University of California Press, 1995)
  • Questioning Technology (Routledge, 1999).
  • Transforming Technology: A Critical Theory Revisited (Oxford University Press, 2002).
  • Heidegger and Marcuse: The Catastrophe and Redemption of History (Routledge 2005).
  • Between Reason and Experience: Essays in Technology and Modernity (MIT Press, 2010).
  • The Philosophy of Praxis: Marx, Lukács and the Frankfurt School (Verso Press, 2014).
  • Technosystem: The Social Life of Reason (Harvard University Press, 2017).