Han and Roman Attitudes Toward Technology

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During the era of classical civilizations, the Han dynasty and the Roman civilization were among the most important forces in the world. These two civilizations had large influences on the world and had elaborate views on various advancements like in politics, art, and religion. However, one of the most important advancements that both civilizations embraced was technology. Within these civilizations, many people had different attitudes toward technology. Their views differed because of various factors such as social classes, government positions, and political placement. While the government officials believed technology had positive effects on society, they still believed it should be improved. The upper class philosophers and political leaders also had ambivalent views toward technology depending on which civilization they came from.

Government officials favored technology but some believed that it could be improved in many ways. According to them, some types of technology should be further developed. This was seen when a Han government official wrote a request to local officials to create water conservation offices for flood prevention. He gave details on how it should be organized like scheduling waterway inspections and hiring workers experienced with the “ways of water.” As demonstrated there, this Han government official believed that the water conservation office would be very beneficial for flood prevention which proves that he favored technology. Huan Guan, another Han government official gave his elaborate views on the iron tools used to make salt and iron. He says that the tools made by individual families had better quality than the ones given by the state to use, “..often crude and not very functional..” He claims that ever since the government took control of the salt and iron trades, the tools dropped in quality which resulted in inflation of salt and iron prices. He believes that the tools manufactured in the past had much better conditions...
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