Thursday, April 12, 2012

Paper Proposal -- Ben Fellows

Ben Fellows
Final Paper Proposal
12 April 2012

1. Bibliography

1. Marcuse, Herbert. One-dimensional man; studies in the ideology of advanced industrial society. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964. Print.

As is stated below, I will be using Marcuse in my counterargument, giving reasons why technology is emancipating.

2. Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. Print.

I will study the aspects of Frankenstein that warn against rapid technology, as are both subtly and blatantly present throughout the novel. I will also note the recklessness present in such a novel, and use it to support my argument that rapid technology is a positive thing, as long as standard safety procedures are implemented.

3. Dick, Phillip K., Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (New York 2007).

As in Frankenstein, I will be using this novel to examine aspects of technology warned against. The difference in setting of Frankenstein and Dick’s novel will present varying ways technology is embraced and shunned.

4. Vincent, David. "The Progress Of Literacy." Victorian Studies 45.3 (2003): 405-431. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Apr. 2012.

I will be using this article to explore ways in which technology has advanced mankind for the better, particularly with allowing the world to become literate, with developments like the printing press.

5. Orlikowski, Wanda J. “The Duality of Technology: Rethinking the Concept of Technology in Organizations.” Organization Science, Vol. 3, No. 3, Focused Issue: Management of Technology (Aug., 1992), pp. 398-427.

I will be using this article to help support my argument of how technology should be used. This article examines various “definitions” of technology, and how applications of these definitions to organizational design can draw various definitions of technology together. I will also use this article to argue that when organization and technology are meshed together, it allows rapid development along with safety simultaneously.

2. Only when we take risks with technology do we make the leaps and bounds that allow advanced society. One could certainly argue that with too many risks taken, society can drive itself to extinction, however part of technology certainly involves safety. Although many of the texts we have read warn against rapid technological advancement, this swift progress that has allowed us as humans to live in society as we know it.

3. For the most part, my paper will not be in agreement with Herbert Marcuse, and as such, I will be primarily using him as a counterargument, on top of arguing with his beliefs of rapid advancement of technology. In particular, I will be arguing with Marcuse’s belief that technology imprisons its users, and instead will argue that modern technology allows users freedoms not presented to them before, and it is their choice as to how much they want to depend on such technologies.

4. On top of my argument against Marcuse, I will also be arguing for the implementation of safety procedures that are necessary in society today. For example, here at Pitt, all engineers in the department of Mechanical Engineering are required to enroll in an ethics course, as it is a constant reminder to all engineers that what they design can have grave consequences if they make mistakes. Another example of safety being put into place is even present in the more mathematical courses. In my Statics and Mechanics class, we are taught about the Factor of Safety, which requires hypothetical constructs to be made in such a way that they must support more than what they are designed to support. For example, in a recent project, our C-frame had to be designed to support a 4000 lb load, with a Factory of Safety of 1.5. This means that the C-frame did not have to support 4000 lbs, but rather support 6000 lbs. These and various other elements in modern design allow for rapid development to remain safe.


Adam said...

i'm mostly confused by this project proposal. That confusion is at least partially a matter of organization - you go through a variety of sources, presenting how you intend to use each one, without presenting a clear *overall* goal or agenda. To the extent that there is an argument, it's a very, very big one - "technology is emancipating." Anyway, that's what I get out of if it. Clearly, that's not something you can do in one essay - which I think is why I get the impression that you're arguing with marcuse, more than anything.

The problem with that is that your understanding of Marcuse doesn't seem very strong. It may be that this is only an *apparent* problem, based on the brevity and variety of the introduction. But if you are claiming generically that Marcuse is opposed to technology, you're completely wrong.

Marcuse, like Heidegger, believes that technological society presents unique problems (in terms of enslavement) along with great benefits (he says, over and over, that things are better than they were before), along with the *possibility*, no matter how difficult, of emancipation *through* technology.

In other words, I have three main concerns.

1) That you're trying to do too much, by covering everything rather than something very clear and specific.

2) That you misunderstand Marcuse thoroughly. Now, I may be wrong there, and it may be that one more class dealing with a lot of Marcuse will help. In any case, pay attention to the details of Marcuse's argument.

3) That you're putting the cart before the horse, by listing many sources and reasons for those sources, without a clear argument which demands them all in the first place.

Adam said...

As one way of re-orienting yourself toward Marcuse, reread the sections of the last chapter especially having to do with the Pacification of nature.