Heidegger’s and Ellul’s Views on Technology

Paper Info
Page count 5
Word count 1079
Read time 4 min
Topic Philosophy
Type Essay
Language 🇺🇸 US


Technological advancement and the development of human society have been some of the most widely discussed and considered topics in the field of philosophy. With the introduction of new mechanisms that allow people to move along the line of progress, the bright minds of every generation start to wonder what consequence the route humanity takes has in store. The implications of human development are boundless, and many have theorized on how humans came to be the way they are, how the primitive societies developed into the complex structures we know today, and what grander context could be found behind the underlying mechanisms of humanity’s growth.

The role of technology and similar concepts is especially interesting to discuss in relation to the advancement of human order, as new approaches, mechanisms, and outlooks are being developed steadily as time passes. It is hard to define the concept of technology without discussing the goals of its usage and employing broad sociological terms. Heidegger and Ellul both talk about the advent of the technological society and its traits, attempting to discuss the role of technology in the lives of people and the bigger picture. Their outlooks are both similar and different in very specific aspects.

While both authors agree that the development of technology can prove detrimental to the lives of people, their reasoning for this assertion is unique from each other. Heidegger understands technology as something that influences every aspect of a person’s life, as well as their understanding of the surrounding phenomena. His assertion is that technology as a means to understand the world has a capacity to develop beyond people’s understanding, impacting the human ability to co-exist with and utilize technology.

Ellul, similarly, believes that technology is a potentially harmful influence, in his, view, however, the danger comes from its ability for self-improvement. Ellul argues that technology, or rather, technique, as he refers to such phenomena, has a tendency to make various processes more efficient, in turn making them uniform. As society strives to become more organized, more efficient, and more integrated, technology spreads and causes the underlying mechanisms in all spheres of life to become dependent on it.

Views – Heidegger

Heidegger, as a German thinker and philosopher, had discussed a variety of abstract concepts of life that were of particular intrigue to him. His works were very influential on the thought and philosophy of the past two centuries, his works on the nature of technology have shaped how people view this issue in modern times. “The Question Concerning Technology”, a book being discussed in this comparison, details his understanding of the term, as well as the effects technology, can have on the lives of people.

The man argues that the current understanding of technology is flawed, as the people generally see it as a means to achieve a particular end, which, in his understanding, is not the full spectrum of what technology encompasses. The man points out that technology is not an instrument to achieve any kind of goal, not human activity, and instead the highest danger to the development of society (Heidegger). In his eyes, the development of technology has the capacity to make humans obsolete and unable to comprehend the complexity of technology.

Views – Ellul

Jacques Ellul, a French thinker, and philosopher wrote a lot of works on the topic of technology and the relationship between religion and politics. In his book “The Technological Society”, he discusses the topic of technological development and the concept of “technique” in more detail. The core concept of the book is the technique, which is a series of approaches and methods to achieve a specific end.

The technique, and by extension, technological development is focused on optimizing efficiency, states Ellul (Ellul & Wilkinson, 1964). The technique is understood beyond the realm of machinery, as a more general concept that uses a specific set of methods to ensure that a goal is met. Ellul finds the process technique’s optimization to be dangerous, as it seeps into all established aspects of society. The need to make operations efficient and effective leads to the creation of overly formal systems that seek to unify the world under the same framework (Ellul & Wilkinson, 1964). The author argues that the spread and development of such techniques erase individuality and the variety of the world, and can be exclusionary to human nature if it starts to contradict its internal logic.

Point of Comparison

The main point of comparison between these two books is the ways in which technological progress can come into conflict with human society. Both men agree that the growth and over-dependency on technology are dangerous and can lead to people either being made unnecessary or impact the way they organize society on the fundamental level. Heidegger puts his main emphasis on the fact that technology shapes the human understanding of other spheres of life, and can come to develop at a much higher pace than human civilization.

He says that humanity has no ability to catch up with technological progress, but needs to find a way to address it before its influence becomes too dangerous. Ellul, on the other hand, emphasizes that technology contributes to making all spheres of life similar in their approaches to meeting goals and solving problems, which makes life become less diverse. He makes the universality of the possible future human experience his main talking point, and a way to understand the potential danger of technological development.


In conclusion, the co-existence of technology and humans is an interesting and complicated issue, one the warrants a prolonged discussion with ranging perspectives. While both authors being discussed today, Heidegger and Ellul, have similar perspectives regarding possible technological development as dangerous. The philosophers warn that the approach and impending technological development can signify a danger to how people live in society and interact with each other. Ellul writes about the technique being used to optimize and make matters more efficient and effective at meeting the ends. This process, is, however, not without of downside of erasing originality of approach and culture.

Ellul predicts that technology will become autonomous and discard traditional values of society in hopes of meeting a goal. Heidegger, in his book, warns that the concept of technology is often misunderstood in its scope and will lead to changes in human society and our understanding of its core principles. The relationships and mechanisms of humans in a technological society are understood primarily through the lens of technology.


Heidegger, Martin. n.d. The Question Concerning Technology. New York: Harper Colophon Books.

Ellul, Jacques, and John Wilkinson. 1964. The Technological Society. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

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EssaysInCollege. (2022, May 24). Heidegger's and Ellul's Views on Technology. Retrieved from https://essaysincollege.com/heideggers-and-elluls-views-on-technology/


EssaysInCollege. (2022, May 24). Heidegger's and Ellul's Views on Technology. https://essaysincollege.com/heideggers-and-elluls-views-on-technology/

Work Cited

"Heidegger's and Ellul's Views on Technology." EssaysInCollege, 24 May 2022, essaysincollege.com/heideggers-and-elluls-views-on-technology/.


EssaysInCollege. (2022) 'Heidegger's and Ellul's Views on Technology'. 24 May.


EssaysInCollege. 2022. "Heidegger's and Ellul's Views on Technology." May 24, 2022. https://essaysincollege.com/heideggers-and-elluls-views-on-technology/.

1. EssaysInCollege. "Heidegger's and Ellul's Views on Technology." May 24, 2022. https://essaysincollege.com/heideggers-and-elluls-views-on-technology/.


EssaysInCollege. "Heidegger's and Ellul's Views on Technology." May 24, 2022. https://essaysincollege.com/heideggers-and-elluls-views-on-technology/.