the twentieth-century life compared to national politics, international conflict, differences of class and gender, and the misdistribution of wealth. This he attributed to the fact that technology preceded the other factors”. As such, technological determinism can either be viewed as “soft” or “hard”. The “soft view” perceives technological change as a driver of social change, but is equally affected discriminately by social pressure, while the “hard view” perceives technological development as an autonomous that is unresponsive to social constraints (Roland, 1992). In this paper, we will show how the leaders of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment in their faith and enthusiasm toward technology as a liberating force perceived technological determinism as an intellectual heritage and in addition to conjuring the deterministic thinking believed that technology and science were powerful social change agents.
Since people attributed agency to technology as a historical force, the deterministic approach was embraced, and the cooperation between proponents and skeptics alike received utmost attention. Through the celebration of new science was acknowledged by J.T. Desaguliers, James Fergusson, and Voltaire in Diderot’s Encyclopedie, in the memorable verses of Alexanber Pope, in the popular eighteenth-century metaphor of a clockwise universe, and even in the critical perspectives of recent essayists as Thomas Carlyle. Generally, the eighteen-century conception and popular acceptance of the idea of progress was indicative of the deterministic thinking (Marx, 1987).
Although, it had originated from Europe, the concept of technological determinism found more fertile ground in the just independent United States primarily because Americans were so taken by the idea of progress. Considered the foremost among the nation’s prophets of progress, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were true believers in humankind’s steady moral and material ...