Authority, Liberty, and Automatic Machinery in Early Modern Europe
Perhaps never in history has society been so fascinated with a single machine as when, in early modern Europe, the clock evolved into a major cultural image, widely used in literature, science, and especially Cartesian philosophy. Yet in England, there was greater interest in a different class of technology-the feedback device, such as the safety valve on a steam engine, that could control itself internally;self-regulating systems were hallmarks not only of practical technology but also of the abstract theories of Newton and Adam Smith.
Otto Mayr, the director of Germany's leading technological museum, explores the relationship between machinery, technological thought, and culture. Contrasting England and the Continent, particularly in the eighteenth century, he uncovers a stikring pattern of technological metaphors applied to political systems-and lays the foundations of a new intellectual history of technology
About the Author
Ottor Mayr is director of the Deutsches Museum in Munich and former curator and acting director of the National Museum of History and Technology at the Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of Origins of Feedback Control and Feedback Mechanism and the editor of Philosophers and Machines, The Clockwork Universe, and Yankee Enterprise.
"Original and delightful... [Mayr's] persuasive and beautifully written book is reminiscent of Max Weber and The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism."
"An absorbing work,... an extremely important demonstration of technology as both a social force and a social product."
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