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By Friedrich Rapp (auth.)

Friedrich Rapp, during this magisterial and significant essay on expertise, the advanced human phenomenon that calls for philosophy of technology, philosophy of tradition, ethical perception, and ancient sensi­ tivity for its figuring out, writes modestly of the grave and ten­ tative scenario within the philosophy of expertise. regardless of the professional­ chanced on thinkers who've committed time and mind's eye and ratio­ nal penetration, regardless of the large literature now to be had, the numerous and comparative viewpoints of political, analytic, regardless of metaphysical, cultural, even esthetic commitments, certainly regardless of the sincere becoming a member of of old and systematic tools of inves­ tigation, we're faraway from a passable figuring out of the fun and sorrows, the achievements and disappointments, of the tech­ nological saga of human societies. Professor Rapp has ready this file at the philosophical realizing of know-how for a afflicted international; if ever philosophy have been wanted, it really is within the prac­ tical try and locate choices between applied sciences, to foresee hazards and possibilities, to settle on with a feeling of the possibil­ ity of pleasurable humane values. Emerson pointed out the student now not as a consultant aside, yet as 'Man considering' and Rapp's essay so speaks to we all, commercial international or 3rd international, engineers or humanists, drained or lively, apprehensive or optimistic.

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Between the latter two he introduces additional stages: irrigation, flock tending, and mercantile revolutions. Finally, beyond the Industrial Revolution (introduction of power machines) he distinguishes the current "Thermonuclear Revolution" (automation, computer technology, utilization of nuclear energy), which other authors have called the "Second Industrial Revolution" (36-43). The value of such a classification is obvious. It provides quite an appropriate and informative way of systematically considering long stretches of time.

This process is always connected with the technological, social, and philosophical prerequisites that are required for the particular form of technology to arise at all. The technological prerequisites include initial products (raw materials and energy), concrete material aids (instruments, machines, apparatuses), as well as, in a broader sense, a particular state of technological knowledge and ability. These factors pertain directly to the material world, transformation of which yields the various technological artifacts.

In particular, one needs to account for the phenomena of multiple discoveries, diffusion of inventions, and even the loss of technological skills and insights. Any corrections of this kind, however, are only modifications of the general trend which is towards ever increasing technological perfection. Granted the fact of historical diversity, technological procedures, nevertheless, always exhibit common features. While it is their concrete embodiment which determines the character of any particular era, such features make possible a supra-historical structural description of technology.

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