Ed Appel's blog

Drama of a Technological Society

Let me start with a few general comments on this essay and maybe get into more detail in a later post.

Mike Hubler's piece on the intersection between Jacques Ellul and KB on technology is brilliant. It rewards a careful reading. I highly recommend it.

One thing Hubler emphasizes that stood out for me is the ambiguity inherent in the agent-agency "inversion" he speaks of, the way in which technology, construed as "obviously" an agency in our gadget-overloaded world, is, it seems, in the saddle and riding humankind at an incredible gallop; and yet, at the same time, the fluidity of the pentadic terms and concepts can just as easily render "technique" as agent in a straight agent-agency correspondence, with the symbol-using/misusing animal as the tool of his or her machanized creations. Hubler makes the ambiguity clear, with supportive references to passages in Burke. In fact, he employs Burke's own descriptions to nicely justify that kind of agent-agency construction, with the machine as autonomous slave-driver and pentadically named as such. His central use of Burke's dramatism as a way of more explicity rhetoricizing Ellul's half-century-old critique of our modern infatuation with the machine is thus appropriately nuanced and pellucidly parsed.