Questions on Freire

1. Does Freire see science and technology as a positive agent, negative agent, or a neutral tool? Do you agree?

2. In our unquestioning embrace of new forms of  technology that are being used for our own oppression, are we unwittingly participating in the dehumanization of ourselves? What about when we have apparent control over the creation or use of that technology?

3 thoughts on “Questions on Freire

  1. I’m going to take on your second question.

    We very often take part in the dehumanization of ourselves when we unquestioningly take up new technology. I have this fear that at some point in the future we’ll develop a machine which can beat the Turing test, not because we’ve made a machine which imitates a human beyond human perception, but because we as humans have changed to be inrecognizable from our machines. We need to step back sometimes and shine a critical eye on how our machines are changing us. We need to question our uptake of technology, and we need to evaluate our uptake of technology in a critical light.

    What prevents this from happening is our inability to clearly evaluate what technology gives us and what it takes away. Most people don’t feel comfortably evaluating technology on their own terms, in terms of what it gives them and what it takes away. They feel they’re not qualified, even though they’re the only ones qualified to evaluate the impact of a given technology on their lives and well being. People need to feel empowered to evaluate technology on their own terms.

    1. In response to the first question, I noted an interesting quote by Freire in his introduction: “More and more, the oppressors are using science and technology as unquestionably powerful instruments for their purpose: the maintenance of the oppressive order through manipulation and repression” (60). I do not think that he personally condemns technology as the sole reason of the oppressed being oppressed, but I think he sees technology as a tool that is being misused by the oppressors. Some time while reading his work, I did however found myself thinking that he had a more negative view than neutral. I agree that technology is a neutral tool. Perhaps more problematic is how technology is largely controlled and designed by the elite, or oppressors. While technology is inherently an inhuman object, the manner in which it is maintained and distributed lies within the hands of “oppressors”.

  2. I concur with Andrew here — technology comes across as neutral-negative in these readings. An article I referenced below (http://dx.doi.org/10.2304/pfie.2007.5.4.431) sheds some light here, noting that Freire himself noted that “The answer does not lie in the rejection of the machine but in the humanization of man.” The focus, as has been brought up in numerous commentaries, isn’t necessarily on the technology itself, but instead in its end uses and implications of those uses. I don’t think Freire was necessarily pessimistic about the possibilities — but cautious and concerned about the potential for continued and new forms of oppression.

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