Guest Lecture - "Engineers' Philosophy: Technical, Intellectual, and Social Elits in Germany during the Second Industrial Revolution (1890-1930)
A part of the Department's Graduate Studies Colloquium series
My essay is concerned with earliest attempts to develop "philosophies of technology" in the first three decades of the twentieth century in Germany. Such debates coincided with efforts on the part of engineers to constitute themselves as a new social group and elite. I discuss three texts to interweave conflicts over upward social mobility with philosophical and intellectual practices: one by a poet-engineer, one by a patent attorney, and one by the cultural critic (and philosopher of technology) Ernst Jünger. I aim to understand in more nuanced ways the intersections at the time of theorizing modern society and engineering practices, thus also revisiting the question about the place of technology and the engineer in bourgeois societies.