Three facets, dimensions, or aspects of technology interact to influence human attitudes and behavioral responses.


"Another way of thinking about this may be to regard all activities involved in practicing or using technology as having several dimensions. In a previous book, I used a triangular diagram to suggest how 'technology practice' not only involves hardware, practical skills and technical knowledge, but also involves an organizational, political dimension, and a 'cultural' aspect relating to values and beliefs."


Pacey Meaning in Technology, p. 7.

Technology is complex or complicated because of several reasons:


Mary Midgley, philosopher.

"Midgley argues, though, that it is better to regard different kinds of knowledge as coming from different viewpoints, and these ought not be arranged in a hierarchy."

"She points out that not only are 'fundamental sciences' sometimes given 'despotic' status, but so are ideological systems and religions."

By making one or any of these sources of knowing more important than the other, Mary Midgley asserts and Pacey agrees with her especially in seeking "the academic dream of pure sanitized objectivity, only leads us to conceal essential material."


Pacey, Meaning in Technology, pp.7-8.

"only by adopting a psychoanalytic view will we discover what technology is really about."


Dimensions of practice of experience kind of meaning



craft, mechanics work knowledge of resources, equipment, & materials


labor, order institutions knowledge of economy, society, & politics


performance ritualistic behavior knowledge of arts, language, religion, & beliefs

One dimensional thinking is a liability

"But there is no 'only' about it. We need to use political economy to understand some problems, and psychoanalytic insights to understand others."

"The dynamic of technological change seems to reflect a synergy among:

psychological, { motivations, feelings, behavioral responses, appetite and imagery

institutional, { organizations, corporate structure, property, capital, labor and religions

and larger

socioeconomic movements." { agricultural, mechanical, electronic, demographic revolutions

"There should be no reductionist scheme for dealing with everything in terms of a single mode of explanation."

"The dynamic of technological change seems to reflect a synergy among psychological, institutional, and larger socioeconomic movements."

"It is a mistake to assume that any one part of this complex is the key to all of it."

Pacey, pp. 8-9.


The automated or power loom, water powered, French, from the late 18th Century replaced hand-woven textiles.


In speaking and in writing use examples like the power loom to explain the three dimensions of technology and examine the influence of many tools on each facet of human life: technical or formal, organizational, or institutions, and the psychological or cultural constraints.


Pacey, The Culture of Technology, p. 6.
Pacey Meaning in Technology, p. 8.
Pacey, The Maze of Ingenuity.
Pacey, Technology in World Civilization.

Pursell | Pacey | Pursell all Chapters | Pacey Chapter One| Postman | Kaku | Time-Line | Core

Pacey Meaning | Syllabus | Core | Pursell | Pursell Contents

Topic Overview

Cultural lag

Three facets of technology and use of tools

White Heat

Science index | Site | Technology | Meaning | Recent | Web site home


Tulips as tools?
Tools of Toil: what to read.
Tools are historical building blocks of technology.
Technology can be understood if tools have three facets.
Tools used in both Music and Architecture led to mechanization and automation.
Tools and the study of technology require us to reflect on the power of instruments,