Jacques Ellul, Thinker of the Technological System


This article is published in Futuribles journal no.429, mars-avril 2019

Whereas, in recent decades, technical progress has accelerated beyond belief, particularly in the field of information, with crucial consequences for contemporary societies, many observers regularly ponder the risks and advantages inherent in these technical advances. It is very clear that nothing is entirely black and white in technical progress, but if we wish to see these matters in a more general perspective, re-reading the French thinker Jacques Ellul’s analyses of technology and the establishment of what he calls a “technological system” seems essential. As early as the 1950s, Ellul sensed the importance that technics was assuming in the operation and organization (including political organization) of our societies and the risks of alienation this entailed. Without condemning technical progress, though seeking always to enable human beings to remain free in their choices, the work of Jacques Ellul provides us with many elements for understanding technics and for grasping its meaning with the necessary perspective, as Daniel Cérézuelle shows us in this “Future of Yesteryear” column. Elements that we find again among the pioneers of political ecology and which are still very salient today (particularly in the thinking on transition that is required today if our civilization is to be preserved). It was important for Futuribles to provide a fresh platform for this work.
#Éthique #Philosophie #Société et individu #Technologie