January 8, 2010

Technique & Technology

Note: This entry is designed to gather into one place the aphorisms in which Gómez Dávila mentions technology. Gómez Dávila, in Spanish, usually uses the word técnica, rather than tecnología. I have generally translated técnica as “technology,” but the reader should keep in mind that técnica can also mean “technique.” The Spanish técnica is similar, in this way, to the German Technik and the French technique.


God invented tools, the devil machines. (#1,315)

Man's three enemies are: the devil, the state, and technology. (#921)

Traditional technology used to educate, because the mastery of it transmitted gestures integrated into a way of life; the teaching of rationalist technology merely instructs, by transmitting gestures alone. (#1,734)

Until the end of the 18th century, what man added to nature increased its beauty.
Since then, what he adds destroys it. (#2,667)

“Nature” was a pre-Romantic discovery which Romanticism propagated, and which technology is killing in our days. (#2,944)

Man no longer knows how to invent anything that does not serve to kill better or to make the world a little more vulgar. (#2,779)

Technology does not fulfill man’s perennial dreams, but craftily mimics them. (#29)

The secret force behind technology appears to be the intention to make things insipid.
The flower without fragrance is its emblem. (#2,509)

The soul becomes desiccated when it lives in a world that is almost exclusively manufactured. (#2,364)

Replacing the concrete sense perception of the object with its abstract intellectual construction makes man gain the world and lose his soul. (#2,614)

The technification of the world blunts one’s sensibility and does not refine one’s senses. (#1,537)

Mechanization is stultifying because it makes man believe that he lives in an intelligible universe. (#2,700)

The so highly acclaimed “dominion of man over nature” turned out to be merely an enormous capability to kill. (#2,968)

Dictatorship is the technification of politics. (#1,979)

Between the dictatorship of technology and the technology of dictatorship, man no longer finds a crack through which he can slip away. (#1,981)

To hope that the growing vulnerability of a world increasingly integrated by technology will not demand a total despotism is mere foolishness. (#1,982)

The man who invents a new machine invents for humanity a new concatenation of new forms of servitude. (#2,340)

The liberation promised by every invention ends with the growing submission of the man who adopts it to the man who manufactures it. (#2,531)

If we demand that the object have only the form with which it best fulfills its functions, all objects of the same species converge ideally in a single form.
When technical solutions become perfect, man will die of boredom. (#495)

The mastery which man has gained over nature only helps him to debase it without fear. (#1,553)

In order not to think of the world which science describes, man gets drunk on technology. (#720)

The individual seeks out the heat of the crowd, in this century, to protect himself against the cold emanating from the corpse of the world. (#721)

Man can construct machines capable of virtually everything.
Except of having self-consciousness. (#649)

If man ever managed to fabricate a man, the enigma of man will not have been deciphered, but obscured. (#1,126)

Let us not blame technology for the misfortunes caused by our incapacity to invent a technology of technology. (#1,244)

Rather than humanizing technology, modern man prefers to technify man. (#1,548)

The one constant in every technological enterprise is its curve of success: rapid initial rise, subsequent horizontal line, gradual fall until unsuspected depths of failure. (#2,536)

As a consequence of technological advances, the old prophets of catastrophes are giving way to the witnesses of catastrophes that were already predicted. (#1,331)

Among the inventions of human pride, one will finally slip in which will destroy them all. (#1,822)

The greater part of an age’s political ideas depends on the state of military technology. (#2,875)

Modern man fears technology’s destructive capacity, when it is its constructive capacity that threatens him. (#799)

Natural disasters devastate a region less effectively than the alliance of greed and technology. (#2,228)

Even the enemy of technology denounces its public, but trivial, outrages more than its invisible, but disastrous, destructions.
(As if contemporary man’s feverish migration, for instance, were disturbing because of traffic accidents.) (#1,442)

Brief upheavals are enough to demolish the buildings of the spirit, while our natural corruption protects technological successes. (#1,176)

Nothing guarantees man that what he invents will not kill him. (#1,216)

What is threatening about a technological device is that it can be used by someone who lacks the intellectual capacity of the man who invented it. (#292)

Technology would present fewer dangers if manipulating it were not so simple for the imbecile and so profitable for the thief. (#2,305)

Stupidity appropriates what science invents with diabolical facility. (#2,723)

The most notorious thing about every modern undertaking is the discrepancy between the immensity and complexity of the technical apparatus and the insignificance of the final product. (#2,641)

Science’s greatest triumph appears to lie in the increasing speed with which an idiot can transport his idiocy from one place to another. (#293)

To attribute an axial position in history to the West would be extravagant, if the rest of the world copied only its technology, if any form which is invented today, in whatever area, did not always appear to be invented by a Westerner without talent. (#1,874)

Just as dangerous as believing the desirable to be possible is believing the possible to be desirable.
Sentimental utopias and automatisms of technology. (#1,496)

When we suspect the extent of the innate, we realize that pedagogy is the technique of what is secondary.
We only learn what we were born to know. (#2,873)

The expert believes he is a superior being, because he knows what, by definition, anybody can learn. (#854)

The specialist, when they examine his basic notions, bristles as if before a blasphemy and trembles as if in an earthquake. (#1,950)

The technician speaks to the layman like an insolent sorcerer. (#2,149)

In order to make the technician devote all his attention to his job, industrial society, without disfiguring his skull, compresses his brain. (#1,758)

Indoctrinating experts is notoriously easy.
The expert, in effect, attributes to every emphatic dictum the same authority as he attributes to the procedures he follows. (#2,370)

His serious university training shields the technician against any idea. (#1,879)

The bourgeoisie, in the feudal framework, settles in small urban centers where it becomes structured and civilized.
With the break-up of this framework, the bourgeoisie spreads across all of society, invents the nationalist state, rationalist technology, anonymous urban agglomerations, industrial society, the mass man, and finally the process in which society wavers between the despotism of the mob and the despotism of the expert. (#2,181)

Fashion, even more than technology, is the cause of the modern world’s uniformity. (#2,972)

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