On the traces of Hephaestus : skills, technology and social participation

G. Nicolosi

Research output: Thesisexternal PhD, WU


In the general understanding, and also in scientific practice, technology and society are viewed as two distinct entities. Related to this view is the assumption that technology and human experience are quite different and unconnected and also the idea that modernity has uprooted, de-contextualized and disembodied technical rationality. Taking a contrary approach, this study represents a theoretical exploration aimed at showing that in the domain of technological development, there are significant margins for maneuver in which to recuperate and valorize human and social action. As a work of theoretical sociology or social epistemology, this thesis approaches its subject from the theoretical background of the philosophy and sociology of technique. The historical and conventional assumptions of this theoretical background, it is argued, have been and continue to be characterized by a hegemonically defined essentialist paradigm. This paradigm has been fiercely counteracted by two opposed approaches, critical theory and pragmatism. The present work combines these approaches, usually considered mutually incompatible, for the development of a new theoretical gaze or perspective. The aim has been to engage in a theoretical research oriented to a new philosophy of praxis in order to instigate a critical and constructivist approach to technology. The main result expected of this work is the provision of a problematized and multifaceted semantic map leading to a multidimensional conceptual re-integration of skilled experience in human technical action.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Wiskerke, Han, Promotor
  • Ruivenkamp, Guido, Promotor
Award date16 Jun 2014
Place of PublicationWageningen University
Print ISBNs9789462570672
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • technology
  • technical progress
  • society
  • sociology
  • philosophy
  • participation
  • skills
  • biotechnology


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