Influence of Culture on Human Technology

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Influence of Culture on Human Technology

The influence that culture has had on human technology is undeniable. One could even go as far as to say that sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish between the two. The term “culture” is extremely difficult to define because of the vast array of meanings that people attach to it. For this very reason, it is imperative to examine the most basic notion of culture, namely: “the totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought” (as taken from www.dictionary.com). Given this definition, it seems reasonable to conclude that human technologies fall under the category of “all other products of human work and thought”. Yet, although human technologies are closely linked to culture, we must draw certain distinctions between the two.

Today, for example, pop culture is thought of as the exportation of American music, food, and cinema. This is a legitimate example of a culture because it encompasses the ideas/beliefs/traditions of a vast group of people. Computers on the other hand, although great as inventions, cannot be considered a culture. One might argue that computers are part of a culture, or may have even led to a culture (namely, the information age), but in and of themselves, computers and other such human technologies are just that, technologies. Technologies can either be of the mechanical/scientific sort (such as the car) or they can be a type of innovative idea that changes life in some profound way.

Having established workable definitions for both culture and human technology, we can now deal with the question of how culture has affected human technology. Given the broad scope of the question, there are several ways to answer it. One way of doing this would be to examine several different cultural movements or characteristics (i.e. art, religion, etc.) and see how they have helped create different human technologies. Another way of analyzing the relationship between the two however, is to look at a human technology and see how culture has altered it. This will be the method employed in this essay.

I) Religion and War

One of the most obvious examples of a culture or a cultural aspect influencing a human technology is the relationship between religion and the nation-state.

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