Man’s enduring technological dilemma: Prometheus, Faust, and other macro-engineers

TitleMan’s enduring technological dilemma: Prometheus, Faust, and other macro-engineers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1984
AuthorsA. Schillinger, G.
Secondary TitleTechnology in society
Abstract

Throughout history man has yearned to live a simple, arcadian existence and, at the same time, has been impelled to attempt to improve his condition and change his environment through knowledge and technology. This ambivalence has been recorded in myths, poems, novels and plays by great writers and philosophers over the centuries. The threats contained in large-scale technological changes have been singled out vividly in literature. The figures of Prometheus and Faust have been used frequently and with a rich variety of perspective to symbolically express this dilemma. This paper attempts, using these two figures, to trace the historical path of this human ambivalence to the present day. It concludes by raising the question of whether contemporary macro-engineers are not–in the light of the immensity of scale and numbers of large-scale projects on the drawing boards–in danger of tipping the balance once and for all.

URLhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V80-465D747-14/2/a5682cea15c2539530c90d6468f5f872