Want to discuss "The Technological Society", by Jaques Ellul?


(Lucas Weeks) #1

After the discussion over here, a number of us have purchased The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul and have started reading it. Here is our reading schedule, for anyone who is interested in reading along with us:

  • Week of January 20 - pages 1-73
  • Week of January 27 - pages 74-146
  • Week of February 3 - pages 147-219
  • Week of February 10 - pages 220-292
  • Week of February 17 - pages 293-365
  • Week of February 24 - Done

And if you’re reading along (@projanen, @jtbayly, @connell), please post your thoughts here!


(Joseph Bayly) #2

Regarding technological advance, I found this article fascinating about the Luddites:

Also, the conversation about it on Hacker News was instructive.

I post this here because Lucas and I were talking by phone about the “inevitability” of advance on various fronts, including the areas of surveillance and automation taking away (even) more jobs.

It turns out the Luddites were not as backwards and irrational as I thought.


(Lucas Weeks) #3

Well, I think I’ve gotten to page 160 or thereabouts in Ellul. He’s obviously brilliant, and you’ll learn a lot of you’re willing to slog through it.

I’ve decided that a better bang for your buck is Neal Postman’s Technopoly. Postman has clearly read Ellul and is downriver of the Frenchman, so you can tell when he’s building on Ellul. But Postman’s book is much shorter and much denser than Ellul’s.

I also took the time to listen to CS Lewis’ extended essay titled, “The Abolition of Man”. I think it’s crucial to read as the backdrop for these discussions. While Ellul was a Christian, Postman certainly was not, and he comes at the topic with an enlightenment mentality. Think old-school liberal. So Lewis provides helpful analysis that Postman leaves out.

I do plan to continue with Ellul, but not until I finish Postman.

Further thoughts are welcome. This is a difficult topic! :flushed: