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Förnuftets brytpunkt: om teknikkritiken i P C Jersilds författarskap
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
1990 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The refraction of reason : technology criticism in the work of P C Jersild (English)
Abstract [en]

Modern technology has enabled us to realise objectives our forebearers could only dream of. Our capacity to do both good and evil has grown dramatically. With these new capacities ensue extremely weighty moral responsibilities.

P C Jersild is a Swedish author who has dedicated his work to the investigation of morality in the technological society. This is why his authorship has been chosen as the object for analysis in this thesis. The analysis of Jersild's work is divided inta two sections. The first of these (chapters 3-5) has the character of a general survey and therefore follows a chronological disposition. We follow the changing course of Jersild's authorship in relation to the changing face of public debate. In addition to relativety detailed interpretations of individual texts and analyses of the motif of technology criticism, Jersild's literary production is campared with his social commentary and brief reflections on the public reception of his books are offered. In this fashion the foundations for the second half of the study which is camposed of four thematic chapters (chapters 6-9) are laid. This thematic approach focuses on several essential issues in Jersild's discussion of technology. Consequently, abstraction and generalization tend to assume a more significant position.

It is shown in this thesis that Jersild critically assesses modern technology as both abstract rationality and concrete lived experience and pennits both perspectives to enrich and stimulate each other. In his discussion of modern technology and its social implications, Jersild repeatedly retums to essentially the same situation: the individual who has teen placed in a predicament due to a harmful pattern of technological development. However, each time he returns to this unsatisfactory situation he views it from a different perspective. He views it through the eyes of a bureaucrat, psychologist, engineer, factory worker, housewife, child, pensioner, lonely alcoholic, hospital patient and animal. This versatility of perspective imbues his narrative with a prismatic acuity; the image of a technological society is complemented and enlarged with every new angle of approach.

Jersild's work can be seen as a critical investigation of those areas of modern society where the "modem project" has gone astray; where a cognitive-instrumental rationally has been allowed to suppress moral-practical reason. In spite of this criticism, it is made clear, Jersild remains a faithful disciple of the Enlightenment and defends modemity; albeit with restrained optimism and a critical scepticism which continually encaurages reflexivity and a sense of moral responsibility. He reclaims a normative fraction and a measare of critical reason which can be used to advance rather than dismantie the "modem project". Somewhat magniloquently, it can be asserted that Jersild' s work is characterised by an attempt to establish a sensible moral argumentation capable of resening the "modern project" from self-inflicted ruin.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Bonniers , 1990. , 375 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 49
Keyword [en]
Technology criticism, Technological society, Rationality, Reason, Morality, Narratives, Swedish literature, P C Jersild
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-31814Local ID: 17639ISBN: 91-0047-862-8OAI: diva2:252637
Public defence
1990-04-20, Wallenbergssalen, Östergötlands Länsmuseum, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2009-10-09 Created: 2009-10-09 Last updated: 2012-11-14Bibliographically approved

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