Bountiful Harvest: Technology, Food Safety, and the Environment

By Thomas R. Degregori | Go to book overview

1
Technology and the Unity of
Experience

Humans strive to realize limitless potential. Unfortunately, at various stages of the development of civilization, higher achievement for some has been bought at the cost of the degradation of others. Being associated with technology was not always highly regarded. In fact, people involved with the practical arts and vocations of technology have been viewed, in the past, as inferior.

In Western civilization, ancient Athens is noted for the contempt of its philosophers for those whose pursuits were other than ethereal. Aristotle would have denied them the rights of citizenship (Aristotle 1958, 107–9). Plato would have denied citizenship to peasants, artisans, and mechanics and would not have wanted his daughter to marry one of their sons (Plato 1960, 234–35; Plato 1952, 89). The attitude toward those who worked furnaces that made the metals for Iron Age Greece was one of even greater scorn. Xenophon said those who tended the fires carried “a social stigma” and were “rightly dishonored” in the Greek cities (Farrington 1944, 28).

There were two reasons the Greek philosophers felt the way they did. Mechanical arts were unpleasant to perform and debilitating to those who carried them out. Working with fire meant “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” (Farrington 1944, 26). Given their unpleasantness, such tasks were carried out by slaves. The stigma of this association carried over to free men engaged in manual technological endeavors. No wonder that, in Greece and elsewhere, higher pursuits were preferred by those who were able to follow them.

In India at the turn of the twentieth century, scholars blamed “the estrangement of the hand from the mind for the decline of science”(Ghosh 1994, 6; Ray 1902–3, 1909). Alsop (1982) says that in the early centuries of Chinese civilization, “any work of art smelling too much of technical training, including technically skillful painting, tended to be looked down by many Chinese art theorists as being too close to artisans' work. On the other hand, a proper

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Bountiful Harvest: Technology, Food Safety, and the Environment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Technology and the Unity of Experience 1
  • Notes *
  • 2 - Technology, Industrialization, and Creativity 31
  • Notes *
  • 3 - Technology, Technophobia, and Human Welfare 61
  • Note *
  • 4 - Technophobia, Natural Foods, Organic Agriculture, Energy, Meat, and Metamorphosis 77
  • Notes *
  • 5 - Genetic Modification and Technophobia 97
  • Notes *
  • 6 - Technophobia, Pollution, Pesticides, and Ddt 127
  • Notes *
  • 7 - Reason, Romance, and Reaction 151
  • Notes *
  • 8 - Technology, Food Production, and Drinking Water 159
  • Notes *
  • 9 - Technology: Control For, or Over, Humans? 179
  • Notes *
  • References 209
  • Index 255
  • About the Author *
  • Cato Institute *
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