Technique- or technology-transfer is based in many ways on technological and economic paths that were often created by European colonization and have been intensified by Industrialization and Globalization. On the one hand, the modern age is a constantly developing planetary truth, a truth that impacts every society in the world. On the other hand, societies in third world countries have not produced this condition themselves because modernity is an external imposition. This means the modern age turns to be an unavoidable destiny for them. Traditional modernization and technology transfer abstract from almost all contextual factors. That is why technological development and modernization are being compared across continents and assessed with more or less value, not considering the cultural and social contextual circumstances. This supposes on one hand that the western way into the modern age has a model character, is normative and there are no alternatives to it. Also, it is supposed that the modern age is a desirable objective and that compensation leads to equal final situations.
A requirement for technological standards and for technology transfer are innovations which constantly promise new development paths and stable institutional settings that can be monitored over a long period. These setting have to be ensured by the cultural system, especially by their social-economical dimensions. Also, the religious dimension is a part of this setting, and in Africa and South-east Asia is closely connected to the form and style of life and to culture. Secularization comparable to the western world only takes place in major cities, as they are islands of modernization. For thousands of years, technological process innovations such as technology transfer have been digested by cultural embedding and not through modernization. This might vary from place to place but in general it shows the same development. Heteronomous transfers meet culturally motivated resistance or are ignored, whereas the circumstances of technology transfer are a bit different. It is not being identified with culture transfer and does not automatically lead to a broad modernization but to a form of development with a speed of cultural adjustment - for sure slower than required by modernization. But this development can mostly be digested with the help of the embedding-paradigm. It is our task to generate forms of modernization with consideration for cultural embedding and traditions.
I. Technological Development as Modernization
Globalization relies also in countries with development on modernization in order to achieve a unified worldwide standard of technology, civilization, culture and world view. It is supposed that this objective will be reached out of natural means and by itself. Hereby, the question whether that objective model of modernization is reachable at all—and which requirements therefore have to be met in advance—is not being answered. It would also have to be investigated whether that aim is desirable at all. The modern age is an unfinished project (Habermas, 1988, P. 7). Arnold Gehlen formulated these phenomena into an easy-to-remember formula that is easy to remember: the premises of enlightenment are dead, only its consequences keep on running. Gehlen has separated the social modernization from the cultural modern age. The unstoppable acceleration of social processes appears as the other side (drawback) of an exhausted culture that has merged into a crystal stage (Habermas, 1988, P. 10f.).
Innovative technological development is a part of modernization since the late 18th century in Europe (Irrgang, 2002b). Today the hopes of enlightenment seem to be realized in Globalization. Techno-structures do not differ from their origin and are not bound ahistorical (Lübbe, 1993, P. 19). This thesis is, though, more and more frequently being questioned. Somebody's identity can be affirmed by a technological universal-culture only in a very insufficient (bad) way. The international techno-culture produces familiarity worldwide, but the price is an increasing speed of aging (Lübbe, 1993, P. 26f). Hermann Lübbe following Joachim Ritter regards human sciences as compensation of a natural and technological science without history (Lübbe, 1993, P. 15). This compensation thesis is primarily referring to historical cultural sciences that function as a medium, through which culture has compensated its lack of history by combining monument protection with skyscraper architecture (Lübbe, 1993, pp. 17-19). The compensation theory which goes back to Joachim Ritter considers human sciences as an addition to natural-technological development. The major claim of this theory is the compensation of de-historization by technology and natural sciences. However, this compensation thesis is based on an inherent wishful thinking, which proceeds from the false fact that the substantiality of past live forms - imparted by the humanities - could regain its liabilities. The compensation thesis cements at the same time the myth of the two cultures. It leads to a way of thinking which repairs damages after the event.
Modernization was a very popular concept and an ideology in the 50s and 60s of the 20th century, in connection with the leave-taking of the old colonial powers and with the anticommunist effect. The "modern age" in the sense of the Enlightenment describes values such as freedom, individuality, dignity of man, tolerance and reason. The anti-modern age stands for community, tradition, religion and morality as politics. The industrial societies of the late 19th and 20th century are marked by technological and economical progress, by growth, functionality, materiality and prosperity. But, the step of a reflexive modern age, which appears in the end of the 20th century, is characterized by realizing somebody's limits, interest in the other, preservation of nature and technological innovation, recognition of foreign traditions and co-existence with the other. On the other hand, modernization has evolved colonization, destruction of cultural tradition and forced cultural adjustment (Young, 1995, P. 172).
Technology transfer becomes necessary due to different development paths. Technological levels are closely connected to the thought of technological development paths (Irrgang, 2002a). A technological development path is constituted both by technological tradition and by technological innovation and it describes a certain final point of stage or a crucial event after a phase of technological development. This is at least a temporal point but often enough it is connected to the thought of developing at least the technological means. Nevertheless, the speed of innovation often varies and it depends on culture. Technological standards though are not determined only by the technological situation. They are a result of standardization processes and they are a consequence of a successful integration of technologies into current technological practice. Requirements for these standardization processes and successful technology transfer are acceptance and cultural assimilation as well as the combining of technological and cultural paradigms. The necessity of leaders for these processes has to be pointed out at this stage. Co-operation and co-ordination are necessary factors for a paradigm to succeed.
Not technological functionality is decoded in a different cultural way, but the embedding of or dealing with it, without which a machine would not be functioning. Technology by itself without appropriate culture transfers is not sufficient. A secure or ecological technology is a technology within an appropriate context (technology and maintenance). Secure or adjusted technology is a social or cultural status, which is not inherent to technology. Therefore technology has to be designed according to a certain ideal of security, to the user or to environmental compatibility. And these are always influenced by culture in difference to technological functionality, which is often being constituted by laws of nature and therefore they are regarded as objective and neutral of value. But handling is a cultural assessment criteria, often formed by prejudice (e.g. through the user) or by somebody's ideas of security and ecological compatibility. These non-admitted prejudice and cultural forming have to be admitted, reflected and discussed. This is a task for a culture of technological reflection (Irrgang, 2002b; Irrgang, 2003b; Irrgang 2007).
According to our western understanding of technology the highest technological standard has the highest degree of automation and rationalization. But for developing- and for taking-off countries the highest technological standard is not desirable because, considering the availability of cheap labor, not that much energy and expensive capital should be used. Many subcontractors are not able to fulfill the high standards of quality so that problems with technology transfer occur. Therefore developing and take-off countries often do not make use of new technologies, which however do not meet the latest environmental standards. The advantages of labor-intensive and cheap technological means have to be compared with the disadvantages of a higher degree of pollution. Best would be to initiate own developments, which enable within the development of technological means the criteria of (1) intensity of labor, (2) environmental compatibility, (3) low purchase and production costs, (4) simple handling and (5) profit. The new technologies developed in the west, especially in the area of energy are very cost-intensive. They also have to search for alternatives, which might be found within bio-procedures or renewable raw material.
With industrialization an immense growth of wealth evolved in the industrial countries. But more and more the question raises weather this growth of wealth can constantly be continued. If a technological standard should be maintained repairs are necessary and not everything can be completely renewed and instantly be reused as much as it is not possible to make money with the highest technological standard. It is often the use of the highest technological standard, which is also a financial risk and therefore it is not really desirable for countries with financial problems. A requirement for technological standards are innovations, which constantly promise new development paths and stable institutional setting that can be monitored over a long period. This is also a requirement for technology transfer. This setting has to be guaranteed by the cultural system and especially by its socio-economical dimension. Also the dimension of world-view and religion of a cultural system have to contribute to this stability.
According to the theory of development paths innovations lead to islands of modernization. On these islands procedures of embedding run in a different way than on the countryside because at least a number of modernization and technologization processes have already taken place and the setting for technology transfer and its embedding has begun to be transformed. This means that it is more likely to reach acceptance for the effects of modernization, but on the other hand the non-simultaneousness of the development speed between those islands of modernization and its surrounding is rising. Islands of modernization have a bridgehead character for further technological developments and its modernization processes.
Modernization in Europe is often based on criticism of traditions and new modernizations should search for strategies of embedding in take-off and developing countries. Instead of announcing believe in progress without making any differentiations I recommend a sensitizing for issues of future, which can be practically referred to as also a responsibility for future generations. Many of those, which have lost their believe in technological progress and modernization in the western world still believe in the cultural dimension of western modernization and point out the necessitation of ethics transfer or culture transfer in the area of human rights. Modernization should neither be reduced to a catching-up-industrialization nor to a "catching-up-enlightenment." Considering the meaning of religion in South-East-Asia the claim embedding modernization in traditions seems to be much more plausible. The reduction of traditional modernization concepts does not aim to abandon modernization but to an increase of technological competence in the context of an increase of social and cultural competence.
II. Culture and Technology Transfer
Technological development paths have an implicit technological progress, with basic differences of standards, but they also determine some further possibilities of development. They build an infrastructure and a cross-linked technological structure, which has its price for maintenance. Alternative ways, which deviate from these structures, come with much high expenditures or costs than continuation of current paths. Imitation of innovations from industrial countries where for a long time considered as modernization factors for developing countries. The colonialism supposes the technological and cultural superiority of Europe and the models of development aid and the concept of catching-up-industrialism suppose the difference standard in technological competences.
The transfer model can have three components (Irrgang, 2006):
(I) Culture transfer (i.e. transfer of certain institutions, education institutions, and cultural goods such as science and art) have only partially taken place in the colonization process. Cultural ideals, life forms and cultural ambience can be transferred, but it is not yet clear how far globalization processes will be successful in this area. For a long time culture transfer was based on the ideology of the western cultural superiority.
(II) Technique- or technology transfer took place during and after colonization, though in times of colonization with only limited effect. The level of technology of western industrial nations was not being reached except for Japan and South Korea. Technology transfer concerns primarily technologies and forms of economy, and is based first of all on values of technological-economic rationality, efficiency and quality.
(III) Moral transfer and maybe even ethics transfer is in general being rejected as Americanization. But this transfer is happening with young people and in urban developing centers (modernization islands) and leads to a broad process of value change. It does also lead to estrangement of their self traditions and might lead to phenomena of uproot. On the other hand these phenomena can be used and result in positive developments. And estrangement is not an appropriate term because it supposes a relatively static conception of both human nature and morality.
Culture transfer is embedded into a new practice not only by transferring or describing ideas or stories. Practices and traditions represent a power which can also exert pressure. Technology transfer takes a technological practice out of the cultural context in which it has been developed. Cross-linking and embedding processes are being undone and practice contexts loose their meaning and have to be prepared for new cross-linkings, embedding processes and practice contexts. Technology transfer has two aspects—the transfer of economy into the production within the same country but also the transfer of techniques or technologies from the production of a country across its national and continental borders. Sometimes this only needs the exchange of goods which are being analyzed and imitated. Technology transfer in pre-industrial times was relatively easy. What was needed was a travel or immigration of a competent technician who had to lead the embedding process in the foreign culture. Before the 19th century technology transfer was enabled by personal migration and exemplifying. It was bound to the person who preceded the technological transfer. The base for a more intensive technology transfer build within the system of technological education, which differs from the migration of single technicians. It also seems to support the transfer of cultural goods and values. Until today technology transfer is easier than culture transfer and technological practice is a practice lead by regulation. At least these rules can be transferred and taught, even if the practice itself is not always transferable. A new practice constitutes itself only in continuation and embedding of a development path, which has been developed within the target culture. Therefore not all forms of practice are transferable and the transfer of practices is a problem. Only regulated practices and rituals, ceremonies and production procedures and technological routines are transferable. This means that with a culture transfer practices of a culture become first of all fixed patterns, which have to proceed from this situation and slowly have to put effort into their embedding.
The inappropriate aspect of technologies, which are being offered to less developed countries, can lie within the characterization of production. It could also lay within the type of products, which are not appropriate for consumption in the target countries. This inappropriate aspect can be changed if the less developed countries give a more clear definition of their needs and name those factors, which have to be considered in order to design certain technologies and technological products in accordance with their own country. Mechanisms have to be developed, which ensure that technological procedures and products in fact meet the needs and demand of the developing countries. An appropriate politics of technology that considers many questions is possible on various development paths. But this politics is set within the conflict of interests of political and economical elite and within the developing countries itself (Chen 1994, 62). From the philosophical point of view the transferred technologies have to be fitted into the current every day culture both considering structures of production and consumption, even if these will sooner or later be transferred by technology transfer in the long run.
III. Technologization and cultural development
The technologization of everyday life as it exists in industrial nations has not yet taken place in developing countries. Moreover, the transfer of great technological systems is not an appropriate mean for a fundamental reform of the structures of technological production in take-off countries. There are often already competing products in the target countries, which are preferred by at least more or less nationally interested consumers. One mistake that has been committed when realizing technology transfer was neglecting of every day factors. Every day technologies refer to current needs. In addition there is the dominance of western models. One consequence of this is the necessitation for defining own models for developing and take-off countries for technological development or to let them evolve from every day live.
Modernization justifies its current potentially revolutionary potential through the blessing of consequences in the future, just like a futuristic utilitarism. The modern age is not possible without a historical philosophy and maybe not without an utopia of a technological or civilian kind. In opposition Marshall Sahlins talks about the structural power of traditions (Sahlins, 1994, P. 101). Next to this also the structural power of new ideas, institutions and horizons has to me pointed out. The belief in self-improvements has never received uniformed acceptance. Already Herder pointed out how the absolutism of the own cultural stage in the enlightenment, the so called age or reason or light ahs consequently lead to destruction of other forms of cultures through trading and colonization (Brackert/Wefelmeyer, 1984, pp. 7-12).
In order to reach innovations new inventions have to be integrated into the existing network of technological and social solutions. This network approach leads to emphasizing of cross-linked technologies and societies. Engineers inscribe social values or norms into a technology and according to these social characteristics the norms and values are being transferred to the user. They then lead to a certain way of acting. Successful criteria depend on mental models, on interpretative flexibility, effect of demand and criteria for improvements like security, which is an interest of engineers. At this stage cultural barriers within communication between differing engineering cultures and engineering schools can occur.
The task of mediation of self- and foreign interpretation of technological action and technological products has to be changed to a reflexive foreign interpretation. This is the approach of technology hermeneutics (Irrgang, 2001a). It does not only deal with textual interpretation but considering technology especially with interpretation of visual and tactile phenomena. The cultural interpretation of technological action refers to religious actions and their dramaturgy, because this dramaturgy has influenced technological construction and the development of technological artifacts. Inventions, accumulation, exchange and adjustment are driving factors of also cultural development. The exponentially rising accumulation rate therefore means that a constant acceleration of the development process takes place. It might appear that growth is irregular. The process of taking over is even a greater source than inventions. It is a process, in which many different inventions from different sources are being combined to a joint cultural basis. The system of all these interrelations builds the organization of culture. Inventions in a cultural area can be made in three ways: As original discovery, by taking it over from another culture and by adapting to inventions from a nearby culture. These adjustments do not happen straight away, but with a certain delay, so that we can speak of a cultural phase delay. The cross-linking of cultural territories shows a diversified gradation. Adjustment in this sense can be a very difficult process, which requires the construction of completely new social institutions and which can also fail (Ogburn, 1969, pp. 60-67).
Technological modernization in the modern times Europe means experimentally driven technological development. Innovative technological development raises the requirements for the speed with which societies and traditions adjust. This is the case in both in Europe and in Developing countries, where again it meets other problems not only because the technological development has not met the same standard as in industrial countries. Moreover a problem is the fact that tradition plays a much more important role for cultural development than it does in Europe. This adaptation-pressure on societies and traditions is raised dramatically by technology transfer. Risen technological standards already existed earlier. But today's raises of technological standards have a different effect not least due to it's cross-linking than it has had before.
In contrast to modernization philosophies as historical dialectics the modernization theory introduced with this paper should refer to social anthropology and ethnology or ethnography. The program of and hermeneutics of modernization has to be shaped. It is not the aim to compete with ethnology and to become an ethnographer or ethnologist. Philosophical reflection is concerned to find frame conditions for an extensive theory of cultural modernization. In Europe the modernization paradigm has three dimensions (Irrgang, 2006):
(I) Modern age and modernization in arts. This is about means of arts, which are progressive in the sense of futurism and which also have lead to postmodern discussions.
(II) Modernization in the area of arts is in fact different to modernization in other areas. In the modern age, the epoch of enlightenment, philosophy is being divided from religion. This refers to the ideological side of modernization.
(III) The third area means modernization through technology in the sense of industrialization or technologization.
Modernization in form of positivism, profit maximizing, egoism, economics and technocracy is though being rejected in most of developing countries, without rejecting the western life form in general or modernization in total. Altogether modernization can be considered as a specific European way of technological-economical and cultural development, which is connected to the idea of experiments. Modernization in the sense of enlightenment includes efforts in the pedagogical area and education of illiterates both in the home country and in colonies. Another Idea of enlightenment as contribution to the modernization theory is the concept of world middle class, which was first being realized economically in the world market. But enlightenment is not a world-wide accepted developmental value.
IV. New Concepts of Technological Modernization
Many of the problems that are connected to modernization are neither modern nor neo-modern but some of them are very old. They are connected to technological and social innovations, which have been there for a while and appear now in greater numbers. In this context the new form of modernization cannot be identified with de-acceleration but it is another acceleration of innovations. And this should not only speed up technology but it more and more has to be applied to social and cultural institutions. The though of progress as a paradigm of the first modernization was intuitively there even though it was controversial. The definition of a reflexive modernization is neither there in an intuitive way nor can it be understood trans-culturally. Therefore we need another definition for that, which has to be understood as a radicalization of the modern age or a modernization of modernization. Anyhow, the meaning is the cross-linking of embedding and transformation processes of technological and cultural practice. The term, which traditionally was used for adjusting of technology to its cultural and social environment, is to simple. It cannot be identified with the dynamic process of today's embedding. The introduction of new technologies in an existing cultural landscape is a transformation of both the introduced technology and the cultural landscape. The phenomena connected with that are much to complex to be described through an evolutionary category such as adjustment. The starting point for the understanding of such embedding phenomena is the theory of path-depending development.
The modern information technologies are for developing countries a possibility of modernization, which at least partially can substitute catching-up-industrialization. And obviously it is more compatible with cultural traditions and the introduced term of technological know-how than the process of industrialization. Especially the thought of technological competence, which gains importance with the new technological revolution, can be combined at this stage with the traditional approach of technology as arts.
However, this phenomenon cannot be described with the thesis of a reflexive modernization. It simply is the phenomenon of a power of traditions, which influences modernization within various religions in different ways, even if they are on one and the same continent. Modernization is no project or concept that is independent from previous development paths, which can succeed with the help of rationality. Modernization itself is a radically historical process, which happens worldwide in different ways due to various starting conditions. Not unification is the result of the new globalization wave but in many ways the result is pluralism of circumstances of modernization and therefore also pluralism of modernization paths, in which technology increasingly dominates modernization. Also, this is a crucial point, at which a social science project of a reflexive modernization fails, because it does not give enough consideration for the engine of this new way of modernization, the technological development and technological revolution (Irrgang, 2006).
A demand-orientated technology transfer without the model of a consume society that opposes many religions and traditions of Africa has to be established. But nowadays the producer-orientated technology transfers are dominant in development aid. A culture transfer or ethics transfer or the transfer of modern world views is not a solution for the worldwide development problems. A new modernization will have to make sure that culture transfer is done in a moderate way and is willing to adjust to each of the established cultures. The regions in Africa and South-east Asia rare neither enemies of technology (not even of modern technology) nor are they enemies of market economy. But they are also critical towards a global capitalism, as far as this is being considered as egoism.
Modernization should not expect or even claim a capitulation of existing cultures but should aim for a careful transformation of existing cultural traditions. If tradition fights against modernization it can be misinterpreted as clash of cultures. Such an interpretation though avoids the maybe unavoidable re-interpretation of each cultural, religious and moral tradition in the light of modernization.
In Africa and South-east Asia, religion in many areas still stands for embedding into traditional contexts, which should not be destroyed by rationalistic modernization theories. It is not technology itself that destroys religion. The western embedding of technology cannot be supposed as being a model. Technology and technocratic rationalization processes have to be differentiated. The true problem is modernizing itself as a consequence of the European historical philosophy of the enlightenment. The west wants, if you allow me to say this way, a technological modernization on the base of a modern age and its world view. Also developing countries want this but they have lost hope of keeping up with the technological modern age and its world view. The world society of beings with reason (Vernunftwesen), as it was a wish in the late 18th century of the enlightenment, was an ideal without any mistakes but as such it was not possible to be realized (Irrgang, 2006).
Traditional individual enterprises have ecological damages as consequences. So technology transfer should be oriented not on the needs of western industrial countries, but on the needs of the developing countries: new information technology, and renewable energy.
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About the Author
Dr. Bernhard Irrgang (professor of the philosophy of technology at TU Dresden) teaches courses in philosophy of technology and bio—and hermeneutic ethics in the Institute for Philosophy at Dresden University of Technology Germany. He has expertise in different fields of philosophy of technology, especially pertaining the philosophical issues to technology, gene technology, biotechnology, cultural theory of techniques, information technology, artificial intelligence and expert systems, technological assessments, and medical ethics. Main emphasis are on: Philosophical questions and topics concerning technology; Technology transfer as a Cultural transfer; Technological development and early technological cultures; Technoscience research; STS research (Science, Technology and Society studies). E-Mail: [email protected]