The term technology (Greek τεχνολογία technologia ) derives from τέχνη techne "art ( especially oratory ), craft ", and λόγος, logos, " word, teaching, scholarship ". The original meaning of the word can not be determined accurately. In Classical Greek, it is not occupied. In Hellenistic Greek ( Koine, from about 300 BCE ) so that is called " systematic treatment of grammar and rhetoric " occasionally. More recently meanings predominate as " doctrine of the craft " and " science of art ", but the different conceptual views partly differ considerably.

Different meanings in modern times

18th century

Until the 18th century was understood, probably under the influence of Hellenistic use of the word under the technology " theory of art or words terminis technicis ". This meaning is merely sprachgeschichtlichem of interest and long plays no role.

The Enlightenment philosopher Christian Wolff wrote in 1740 of a "possible Philosophy of Crafts, even if it is so far been neglected. [ ... ] So the technology is the science of crafts and craft products. " With crafts and craft products is for those days, obviously all the technology meant ( a word that it does not have the time given in the today common sense). Expressly called Wolff also the architecture as a part of the technology. Interesting is the fact that Wolff sees the technology as a possible branch of philosophy. This can be explained with the fact that the separation of the individual sciences was largely not yet been made by the philosophy, but one can also be seen as an anticipation of a philosophy of technology.

As the founder of the German concept of the technology is the political scientist Johann Beckmann. After brief mentions of the word in the years 1769 and 1772 Beckmann 1777 presented the book guide to technology, or to the knowledge of crafts, factories and manufactories. It says Beckmann: "Technology is the science which the processing of the kind, or the knowledge of crafts, teach " ( ibid, p 17). At this point, he mentions only the crafts and not, as Wolff, whose products; However, he goes to many places in the book and it also supplemented his instructions later by its own Silo. Nevertheless, Beck 's program has been so often taken as if it were solely on the theory of production processes and not the technical products.

19th century

This view is from Karl Marx in the foreground, which deals primarily with the relationship between industrial labor and capital. "The principle [ of modern industry ], every process of production [ ... ] dissolve into its constituent elements, created the whole modern science of technology." On the other hand, he also developed a much more extensive, so to speak, social theory presentation: "Technology reveals the active conduct of man to nature, the direct process of production of his life, so that his social life, relationships and their entquellenden mental representations."

Since the late 19th century technology is the special area of Science that deals with the processing and machining procedures. One speaks of mechanical, chemical, food technology, etc., limits the term so explicitly to the study of the production methods.

20th century

In the GDR, the professional tradition introduced in the context of a one-sided understanding of Marx to solely in terms of " production theory " technology conceive and even medium skilled workers in industry ( production engineer, planning engineer, etc.) to be called technologists. In a representative Encyclopedia states: " Technology: discipline of technical sciences, the material and technical side of the production process, the technological process, has as its object ".

In West Germany spread under the influence of English since the 1960s in politics, business and media, a largely non-specific word usage, which means the same thing more or less like art. So is often euphemistically speaking, for example, in product advertisements of technology instead of technology to make a technical product seem more valuable. Does anyone, for example, in connection with vehicles of " latest technology ", is actually the vehicle technology meant.

In English, particularly American-style, which actually existing word is technics entirely uncommon as a counterpart to the German technology. Everything correctly called technology in the German, technology is called in English. The range of meanings of English technology is much broader than that of technology: It ranges from technology to machine, tool, computer program to technical systems and procedures. Accordingly, in the translation from English into German caution should be exercised.

Current trends

Meanwhile, place the view a certain resonance to absorb the meaning of the word from the 18th century and again to define technology as " the science of technology."

According to a proposal by Johann Beckmann, the term includes the General Technology ( transdisciplinary art research and technology teaching) and the specific technologies ( the individual technical science disciplines ).


  • It does not seem appropriate to replace the term technology through technology unwisely.
  • Technology is not synonymous with technology English.
  • A generally accepted definition of technology does not exist.
  • You have to guess the meaning from the context in each case.