Andrew Feenberg

Andrew Feenberg

Feenberg in Vancouver, Canada, 2010
Born 1943 (age 7273)
Occupation Philosopher
Spouse(s) Anne-Marie Feenberg

Andrew Feenberg (born 1943) holds the Canada Research Chair in the Philosophy of Technology in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. His main interests are philosophy of technology, continental philosophy, critique of technology and science and technology studies.


Feenberg studied philosophy under Herbert Marcuse at the University of California San Diego and was awarded his PhD in 1972. During this time Feenberg was active in the New Left, founding a journal entitled Alternatives and participating in the May ’68 events in Paris.

Feenberg's philosophy of technology

Feenberg’s primary contribution to the philosophy of technology is his argument for the democratic transformation of technology. From his book Transforming Technology,

"What human beings are and will become is decided in the shape of our tools no less than in the action of statesmen and political movements. The design of technology is thus an ontological decision fraught with political consequences. The exclusion of the vast majority from participation in this decision is profoundly undemocratic" (p.3).

Feenberg provides the theoretical foundation for this idea through the Critical Theory of Technology which he develops over three books: The Critical Theory of Technology (1991) (re-published as Transforming Technology: A Critical Theory Revisited [2002]), Alternative Modernity: The Technical Turn in Philosophy and Social Theory (1995), and Questioning Technology (1999). The basis of Feenberg’s critical theory of technology is a concept of dialectical technological rationality he terms instrumentalization theory. Instrumentalization theory combines the social critique of technology familiar from the philosophy of technology (Karl Marx, Herbert Marcuse, Martin Heidegger, Jacques Ellul) with insights taken from the empirical case studies of science and technology studies. Applications of his theory include studies of online education, the Minitel, the Internet, and digital games.

Feenberg has also published books and articles on the philosophy of Herbert Marcuse, Martin Heidegger, Jürgen Habermas, Karl Marx, Georg Lukacs, and Kitarō Nishida.

Selected works





    External links

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