The Technological Bluff

Jacques Ellul
Translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley.
Copyright © 1990 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
255 Jefferson S.E.,
Grand Rapids, Mich. 49503
All rights reserved

This book is out of print.

Translator's Preface ix
Foreword xi

Preliminary Thesis: The Great Innovation

1. Multiple Progress 1
2. Social Discourse 7
3. The Great Innovation 16
Excursus on Simon, The Ultimate Resource 20
4. The Aristocrats 23

PART I UNCERTAINTY
I Ambivalence
35

1. All Technical Progress Has Its Price 40
2. Technical Progress Raises More and Greater Problems than It Solves 47
3. The Harmful Effects of Technical Progress Are Inseparable from Its Beneficial Effects 54
4. Technical Progress Has a Great Number of Unforeseen Effects 60
5. Our Lack of Awareness 73

II Unpredictability

1. Introduction to Unpredictability 77
2. Our Failure to Foresee and Relative Unpredictability 82
3. Conditions that Make Forecasting impossible 87
4. Absolute Unpredictability 91
5. Foresight 96

III Double Feedback 100

1 Positive Feedback 102
2. Negative Feedback 104

IV Internal Contradictions 107

1. Thresholds of Reversal 108
2. Fragility 113
3. Compensations 118

PART II · DISCOURSE

V Humanism 125

VI Is There a Technical Culture?

1. Imperatives and Hesitations 132
2. What Can We Call Culture? 139
3. A Technical Culture is Impossible 141

VII Human Mastery Over Technique 149

VIII Rationality 160

IX A Sketch of the Ideologies Of Science

1. Classical Ideology 172
2. The New Ideology 178
Excursus on Science and Faith 187

X Experts 189

PART III · THE TRIUMPH OF THE ABSURD

XI Technical Progress and the Philosophy of the Absurd 199

1. Technical Absurdity 203
2. Economic Absurdity 207
3. Human Absurdity 213
4. Conclusion 215

XII Unreason

1. Dissociation 221
2. Paradigms 223
3. The Main Areas of Unreason 228
4. Complementary Examples 239

XIII The Costs: The New Relation between Technique
and Political Economy
243

XIV What Use? The World of Gadgets 257

1. Needs 259
2. The World of Gadgets 262

XV Waste 287

1. Private Waste 289
2. Social and Collective Waste 290
3. Responsibility 300

XVI The Bluff of Productivity

1. The State and Science 302
2. Productivity 307
3. Entropy 318

PART IV · FASCINATED PEOPLE
XVII From Information to Telematics

1. Information 327
2. Television 332
3. Telematics 339

XVIII Advertising 347

XIX Diversions 358

I. Games 360
2. Sports 366
3. The Automobile 371
4. Mechanistic Art 376
5. Ultimate Idiocies 381

XX Terrorism in the Velvet Glove of Technology 384

Last Words

1 . Inventing Humanity 401
2. The Great Design 405

Bibliography (omitted)