As I once studied philosophy (back in the classes préparatoires), I like to keep in touch with this kind of reflexion. Moreover, in this research field where everything is moving very fast, it is a way to find a few continuities and to ground the peculiar questions regarding the analysis of language in a more conceptual framework.

Here is a list of texts available on the Internet (some of them partly) that seem important to me. Some are written in English, some in French or in German, as I chose the original ones.

It does not have the pretension to be complete ! Other references may follow.

  • Denis Diderot wrote the article Art in the Encyclopédie. It is a state of the art introducing the word and its different meanings (which by that time included arts, techniques and technology). Diderot is speaking in favor of the techniques developed by the craftsmen and give an account of the ideas of the time about liberal arts, theory and usage.
    The whole text was made available by the ARTFL Encyclopédie Project.

    Les Artisans se sont crus méprisables, parce qu’on les a méprisés; apprenons - leur à mieux penser d’eux - mêmes: c’est le seul moyen d’en obtenir des productions plus parfaites.

  • Johann Beckmann‘s Anleitung zur Technologie (on Google Books), written in 1777, is a seminal book regarding the use of the word technology. It is the first time someone ever mentioned it. It is mainly interesting as a reference since the digitalized book was quite old and the text is not that easy to read. The introduction will do it.

  • Hans-Joachim Lenger hosts a reader based on texts about philosophy of technology (PDF, in German) by Kant, Marx, Heidegger, Bloch, Anders… About 160 pages, an interesting collection. Just the basic texts, no explanation and there might be a few references missing - what about French philosophers like Descartes, Comte, Bergson or Bachelard ? However, regarding German authors it is rather complete and gives relevant insights in the texts.
  • Allgemeine Technologie: eine Systemtheorie der Technik was written by Günter Ropohl at the end of the 70s. The third edition (2009) was made available by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, and that free of charge, which is worth to be noticed. In the major part of the book, the author tries to find a model to explain the different techniques and the framework of technological inventions. It deals more with technical aspects than with philosophical ones but the description is still guided by theoretical concepts of what technology and inventions mean. G. Ropohl, Allgemeine Technologie. Eine Systemtheorie der Technik, 3 ed., Karlsruhe: Universitätsverlag Karlsruhe, 2009.
  • Philosophy of Technology by Don Ihde is an article published in 2005. Ihde is considered as the main North-American philosopher who deals with this kind of issues. This article is an attempt to summarize the philosophical approach which is best suitable and the implications for the philosophers of technology. It describes the framework of what Ihde calls an informed, pragmatical participant. The article is available free of charge on SpringerLink.

    Philosophy of technology is necessarily concretist or ‘ materially ’ oriented insofar as the technologies operate materially at whatever level. Such material operations display patterned, structured, and while multistable, limited sets of possibilities. It is this structure that philosophers may examine and analyze.

    D. Ihde, “Philosophy of Technology”, Philosophical Problems Today, vol. 3, pp. 91-108, 2005.

  • Last but not least, La technologie, science humaine by André-Georges Haudricourt is a collection of texts written both on a theoretical, reflexive side and on a practical one. It is very rich as the texts tackle a lot of different issues: the theoretical frame and the method, the transports, diverse tools, technology in China and Japan… The introduction by François Sigaut gives a good account of Haudricourt’s reflexions. The book is partly available on Google Books. A. Haudricourt, La technologie, science humaine, Paris: Fondation des sciences de l’homme, 1987.

There is an additional list by Michel Puech (commented, in French): 10 essential books on contemporary philosophy of technology. I generally agree with his choices.