Arnold Pacey

book Technology in World Civilization

Meaning in Technology

Technical | Organizational | Cultural | loss | complexes

Pro: Is music the origin of technological virtuosity (highly skilled, sophisticated) in the making of tools?

Con: Pursell argues that the development of language in prehistoric culture responsible for exaptation in tool use.

How is rhythm different from meter and melody?

In what way does Pacey use these ideas and how would that support Pursell's insistence that development in the use of tools (technology) is actually and extension of human capabilities?


Technology is tekne is tekne logos is logos meaning
Use of tools
the means to
Purpose of tools
end or goals achieved

The tectonic feature of technology is the use and creation of a tool or tool complex to achieve some purpose.

Iron making, foundries and hearths are all necessary ingredients in casting the ingots made from ore.

Pacey, p. 3.


Melvin Kranzberg --the authority in the history of technology-- says:

"It is evident enough that changes in technology can bring changes in the way work is organized."

He quotes commentator Peter Drucker, in saying:

"Work its structure, organization and concepts ... must in turn powerfully affect the tools and techniques and their development."


World Civilization

1. An Age of Asian Technology

"All playing a part, notably in metalworking techniques and in the development of printing."

"A corollary of this is that when institutions declined, or were disrupted by conquering power, there was often a loss of technology. The best known example ...was the collapse of the western Roman Empire in the fifth century (400s AD), when engineering skills disappeared along with the institutions which had organized their use."

Technology in World Civilization, p. 19.

2. Before the Mongols

"One of the major themes of Asian history is the relationship between the nomadic peoples of the northern grasslands and the settled civilizations of China, India, and the Iranian plateau."

Technology in World Civilization, p. 20

"The key technology associated with the nomads' horses was the harness, which allowed the many functions associated with these animals to be performed. The crucial element here was the iron stirrup which, in conjunction with the suitable saddle, enabled a rider to hold himself steady whilst using both hands to shoot arrows from a bow, either in hunting or in warfare. The stirrup had evolved in China and Mongolia five centuries before, but was still not universally used."

Technology in World Civilization, pp. 21-22.

joinThe task you have in this class is how to define technology in terms of society and function–that involves how we define work. Work accomplished is an expression of labor. Labor together with land and capital are used to create tools, alter tools, and advance technology to achieve larger economic ends, defensive means, or wider social goals, such as irrigation or shipping.

"Bray characterizes this situation by saying that each area had a distinctive tool complex, and, taking a slightly larger view, it is possible to speak about the technology complex of a particular region ...looking at the techniques used by different peoples to obtain their food and other basic necessities."

Technology in World Civilization, 29.

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,

Related topics:

Pursell | Pacey | Postman | Tenner | Kaku