Review Of "Technique, Discourse, And Consciousness : An Introduction To The Philosophy Of Jacques Ellul" By D. Lovekin

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Americans know Jacques Ellul primarily as a critic of technology, missing Ellul's profound philosophy of culture. While fully acknowledging Ellul's religious preoccupations, Lovekin locates Ellul's thought in relation to Hegel and Ernst Cassirer. Ellul emphasizes the centrality of symbols (the way one interacts between consciousness and one's world) and dialectic (recognition and attempted overcoming of contradiction between subject and the other). “Technique,” as a scientific-technical rationality concerned only with absolute efficiency, socially embodies a form of consciousness that obliterates symbols and dialectic. La Technique becomes the center of a new sacred mythology, assuming a metaphysical character confining the Real to the present, usurping God's place. While not the first systematic study of Ellul's thought in English (cf. Darrell J. Fasching, The Thought of Jacques Ellul: A Systematic Exposition, 1981), Lovekin shows how hostile critics (e.g., Samuel Florman, The Existential Pleasures of Engineering, CH, May'76) and friendly critics alike (e.g., Langdon Winner, Autonomous Technology: Technics-Out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought, CH, Sep'77) misunderstand Ellul. Lovekin's sympathetic, lucid, and original exposition and defense of Ellul's thought supplements Jacques Ellul: Interpretive Essays, ed. by C.G. Christians and J.M. Van Hook (CH, Dec'81). For making better known the thought of this prolific, wide-ranging, and original thinker, Lovekin's book deserves a wide audience, upper-division undergraduate and up.


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