Notes on Technology and the Moral Order

By Alvin W. Gouldner; Richard A. Peterson | Go to book overview

Foreword

Professors Gouldner and Peterson have had the audacity to examine basic philosophic problems with the instruments of modern statistical analysis. These problems are no less than the factors that set the character of human action; the relative importance of the technological aspects of life as against the ethical. If the results are not conclusive, they are titillating; and the promise that such an approach holds should be welcome to all who have endeavored to grapple with social philosophy on the grand level rather than be content to labor in the vineyards.

The audacity is both intellectual and moral. The intellectual boldness lies in facing those areas of moral philosophy in which there already exists a vast, erudite, and inchoate literature. It is an arena where the greatest minds have sought answers, even though these are yet unfound. It is an act of supererogation merely to enter into this field of enquiry.

The audacity is also moral. For the world inhabited by the philosopher and the humanist has always remained alien to that of the scientist. We may be certain--and there are evidences in the wording throughout the essay that the authors themselves are certain--that the very effort will be met by criticism from both sides. For the attitudes of scholars being what they are, there is little doubt that many in each camp will feel that their own approach to discovering the ultimate verities is, in some indefinable way, sullied by the contaminating influence of the other's. The hard-headed scientist will assert that these are soft, undefinable problems; the humanist will assert that violence is done to man's noble conceptions by the very effort to catalog and count--let alone manipulate arithmetically.

-xi-

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