Technology: Emerson and Nye

Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Technology, Human Pages: 3 (1221 words) Published: February 27, 2013
Can you possibly imagine living in today’s society without technology? Most would say that life would be so difficult to live in without having the technological assistance to satisfy them. Ever since the human race came into existence, we have strived to invent tools that can be used in our daily life in order to comfort and relieve us. Even the smallest things require some sort of technology. For example in order to talk to someone outside your immediate vicinity you use a phone. It’s come to the point that people depend on it. The irony is man believes that since they built technology they automatically have control over it. However, our dependency on technology is so overwhelming that we lose our control over it. Ralph Waldo Emerson clearly states this in his poem “Ode, inscribed to W.H. Channing. David E. Nye’s essay, on the other hand, presents the history of the advancement of technology that humans face. To be specific, Nye uses cases that involve Japan’s culture and traditions, Marx’s point of view of technology, the Victorians dilemma with technology, and many other examples to convey his complicated opinion of technological determinism. Although both historians present varying thoughts about this idea of technological determinism, I personally agree with Emerson on that humans are not capable of controlling their own innovations at this point in today’s world. When analyzing Emerson’s poem, one can notice how he uses many metaphors to convey his opinion. For instance, he uses the “chattel” and “thing” as a metaphor of technology and this is ironic because both technology and the chattel are commonly thought of as possessions. Hence, it is controlled and owned. But, he goes on to say “Things are in the saddle and ride mankind” and this is ironic because the initial precept, that man has the control, is altered. What he basically tries to states is that our society is lead to believe that the man is in the saddle. However it is the “thing” that rides...

Cited: Emerson, Ralph W. Early Poems of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Boston: Thomas Y. Crowell & Company, 1899.
Nye, David E. Technology Matters: Questions to Live With. London: The MIT P, 2007.
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