Herbert Marcuse: Some Social Implications of Modern Technology

Introducing the Frankfurt School


          In “Some Social Implications of Modern Technology” Herbert Marcuse examines technology in a broader sense. He defines technology as more than just “the technical apparatus,” which he calls “technics”; for Marcuse technology is “a social process” in which men are inseparably involved (138). The most significant implication of the technological process is the creation of dominative “technological rationality,” similar to but distinct from Horkheimer’s idea of subjective reason.




           Marcuse traces the change in the individual and his rationality. He constructs the rationality of the individual in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and contrasts this “individualistic rationality” with the modern “technological rationality” (Marcuse 141). Individualism was based on autonomous self-interest, whereas technology makes self-interest completely heteronomous, achieved only by “adjustment and compliance” (Marcuse 146). Individualistic, rational self-interest was motivated towards finding “forms of life”; therefore, in the service…

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