1) Schumacher’s economic ideals, and his views on mechanization, are intertwined with principles taken from, or inspired by Buddhist ideas. He states that “[t]he choice of Buddhism for this purpose is purely incidental; the teachings of Christianity, Islam, or Judaism could have been used just as well as those of any other of the great Eastern traditions.” Is religion just one means of getting to Schumacher’s end or is it necessary? Could atheist principles lead us there too, or does atheism lack something? Certainly Schumacher’s economics relies on a form of mild asceticism that is consistent with certain religious teachings, but what about his views on mechanization and the distinction between a tool and a machine?
2) Some of Schumacher’s arguments start to appear like they rely on a form of technological determinism. See for example this paragraph at page 101:
<blockquote cite=””>Strange to say, technology, although of course the product of man, tends to develop by its own laws and principles, and these are very different from those of human nature or of living nature in general. Nature always, so to speak, knows where and when to stop. … [T]he system of nature, of which man is a part, tends to be self- balancing, self- adjusting, self-cleansing. Not so with technology, or perhaps I should say: not so with man dominated by technology and specialisation. Technology recognises no self-limiting principle – in terms, for instance, of size, speed, or violence. It therefore does not possess the virtues of being self-balancing, self- adjusting, and self-cleansing. In the subtle system of nature, technology, and in particular the super-technology of the modern world, acts like a foreign body, and there are now numerous signs of rejection.</blockquote>
Yet underlying Schumacher’s main thesis and main prescription for the future is an assumption that we do, in fact, have control over the development of technology and a normative conclusion that we should aim to develop it in a certain way. How can this apparent contradiction be resolved?