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[Free kindle] The Evolution of Technology (Cambridge Studies in the History of Science)Author George Basalla –

A bit simplistic Good example of sticking to a thesis Overall a good introductory book. It is a well written examination of the scientific and technical development history of the human kind Why did inventions occur Why did they occur in specific regions All of the aspects were clearly examined and after each chapter, Basalla states a little summary of that chapter and shows his implications However, there is something itches my mind Basalla didn t even mention about the scientific progresses of the Eastern civilizations He just mentions how closed the Muslims against the scientific progress, just by mentioning a hadith of the Prophet Muhammed as there are lots of other hadiths that encourage people to learn new things This looks like taking the easy way out of it There are many scholars who did their best to contribute the cultural heritage of the human kind One of them laid the foundations of the modern mathematics and I guess he deserved to be mentioned. I taught this book to engineering students doing a history course at the University of Toronto in 1990 and 1991 The analogy of evolution to human activity that is often goal oriented which evolution most assuredly is not is problematic. History isthan just a series of events happening in sequence So many history books focus on discussing their subject matter as a series of chronological events, however, so books that flout this convention always feel the need to warn us This is what George Basalla does in The Evolution of Technology At the same time as he reassures us that this is an historical account of how technology develops, he dispels any misapprehension that this will be a chronological look at technology from fire through Stone Age hammers all the way to the atomic bomb Rather, this is a well structured argument that includes historical examples as needed The Evolution of Technology works because Basalla articulates his thesis so clearly and precisely that his entire argument is, if not convincing, at least admirable Although the title is a loaded one, Basalla is careful to always demarcate where the metaphor he consciously invokes breaks down, such as is the case when discussing natural selection in evolution versus artificial selection in technology By treading so carefully, Basalla avoids overreaching and weakening his argument.The first two chapters are introductory, establishing the topic and the terms in which Basalla will discuss the evolution of technology Here we re given an idea of the historical and contemporary attitudes toward technological development, both with regards to what gets developed Chapter I Diversity, Necessity, and Evolution and how it gets developed Chapter II Continuity and Discontinuity Basalla s most concerned with dispelling the fallacious, in his view idea that technological development occurs in a series of discontinuous revolutions initiated by individual genius inventors While he doesn t dispute that individuals can make significant contributions to invention, he goes to great lengths to establish a sense of continuity when it comes to innovation.This yields a perfect segue into the next two chapters, which are all about novelty If it s the case that revolutions area product of historical analysis than actual fact, what criteria can we use for calling an artifact or invention novel , and what factors in society determine these criteria Basalla divides this analysis into four major types of factors that he splits across the two chapters psychological and intellectual factors, and socioeconomic and cultural factors Far from being abstract and abstruse, Basalla s arguments employ specific examples from a wide variety of technologies He does tend to focus on nineteenth and early twentieth century innovations, including the steam engine and the automobile, probably because of the plethora of economic and historical data available for these inventions and the people involved in their production This is a sound strategy, for it provides a common thread of investigation throughout the entire book and he includes enough examples from other eras, like xylography in ancient China, to avoid charges of hasty generalization Basalla makes a convincing case for why novelty emerged as a very individualist, Western concept while China and the Middle East did not embrace novelty as the mother of invention.From novelty, Basalla moves on to selection His factors are similar, although in this case he paysattention to involvement of the economy and the military Once again, the steam engine and the automobile feature heavily in the examples he invokes However, he also discusses the ill fated attempt to develop commercial supersonic transport and the propaganda saturated era of nuclear power Of particular interest is his counterfactual look at how there are potential alternative technologies for those adapted at various points in history for instance, if railroads hadn t connected the United States in the nineteenth century, it s possible that canals and rivers could have picked up the slack This isn t random science fiction speculation on his part while any counterfactual history is ultimately speculative, Basalla draws on serious studies on the subject to marshal support for his anti deterministic argument for the evolution of technology.Basalla claims that The Evolution of Technology is an historical look at technology, and not a philosophy of science textbook Well, I read this for a Philosophy of Science Technology class It s definitely an historical account, but I think there sphilosophy in here than Basalla admits It s good philosophy though, interesting and well argued Of the two books I m reading for this class the other is Introduction to the Philosophy of Science , by Robert Klee , I liked this one better. This is a briliant survey on the evolution of technological novelties, narrated inside the paradigm of classical Mullerian theories of cultural evolution. It s interesting that technology is held up as the prime example of intelligent design , but this book shows that technology is poorly understood as a process, and may be best explained in evolutionary terms. This Book Presents An Evolutionary Theory Of Technological Change Based Upon Recent Scholarship In The History Of Technology And Upon Relevant Material Drawn From Economic History And Anthropology It Challenges The Popular Notion That Technology Advances By The Efforts Of A Few Heroic Individuals Who Produce A Series Of Revolutionary Inventions Owing Little Or Nothing To The Technological Past Therefore, The Book S Arguement Is Shaped By Analogies Taken Selectively From The Theory Of Organic Evolution, And Not From The Theory And Practice Of Political Revolution