On the detachment of technique

Studies in Philosophy and Education 12 (2):165-177 (1993)
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Abstract

In this paper, I analyze the notion of technique and a phenomenon, or practice, that I call the detachment of technique, or DT, for short. I argue that the technique of a significant human activity, such as thinking or teaching, is always embodied in persons and must be understood in relation to the context of ends that provides the technique whatever intellectual and moral authority it may have. With the use of two extended examples — one from Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Player Piano, and the other from the critical commentary of Harry Broudy — I explore the consequences of detaching the formal or mechanical aspects of technique from its traditional context of ends. DT and expert systems, the most advanced form of DT, are shown to distort the technique and destroy the traditions of significant human activities. I also explore DT as a technique that is informed by the tradition of technological rationality. The most serious problem of DT is that when technique is detached from the traditions of significant human activities, it is also separated from the educational process whereby intelligence is developed.

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