Aristotle, Rousseau and Descartes on Technology Essay

Aristotle, Rousseau and Descartes on Technology Essay

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While it is relatively easy to confuse the ideas of Aristotle, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and René Descartes, ancient philosophy, eighteenth century politics, and mathematics all appear to be considerably disconnected subjects. Associated with these divisions are three different opinions on a common subject matter: technology. It appears that Rousseau directly opposes technology, Aristotle’s opinion rests in the middle but also shares similarities with Rousseau, and Descartes favors technology. After reading Rousseau’s Discourse On the Origin of Inequality, Aristotle’s The Nicomachean Ethics and Descartes’s The Discourse on Method, one can draw these conclusions. When looking at Rousseau’s opinion on the natural man, it is clear he believes that all things manmade are disadvantageous; Aristotle’s view on friendship can be both supportive and antagonistic, while Descartes’s method for pursuing the truth points solely to a pro-technology point-of-view.
Although Rousseau does not plainly say that technology is bad, his discussion about the natural state of man compared to the modern man clearly communicates his negative attitudes towards the artificial things in life. To convey these feelings, he says that the lifestyle of the average human being does not provide for a beneficial balance. Rousseau gives examples such as “the overly refined foods of the wealthy, . . . which overwhelm them with indigestion; the bad food of the poor, . . . who, for want of food, are inclined to stuff their stomachs greedily whenever possible . . .” (22). These illustrations point to the fact that the suffering of the human species is caused by our own hands. To put this example in contemporary terms, think of a congregation of well-to-dos sharing a ...

... middle of paper ...

...ced that with each field of study comes a different thought process. Aristotle, an ancient philosopher, is able to see both the good and the bad regarding technology; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an eighteenth century politician deeply rooted in self-preservation, saw that the only way to improve oneself was through natural means; René Descartes, a mathematician, believed the only way to better the human species was through scientific assessments and technological advancements.

Works Cited
Aristotle, and W. D. Ross. "Book VIII." The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle. London: Oxford UP, 1954. N. pag. Print.
Descartes, René, and Donald A. Cress. "Part II." Discourse On the Method. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Pub., 1998. 11. Print.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, and Donald A. Cress. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 1992. 20, 22, and 34. Print.

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