Models pp 338-356 | Cite as

Art and Technology: Conflicting Models of Education? The Uses of a Cultural Myth

  • Marx W. Wartofsky
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 48)


There is a current and popular distinction made between art and technology as conflicting modes of human activity. Art, as we all know, is creative, liberating, free activity. Technology, as we all know, is mechanical, constraining, subject to rote and rule. Where art calls for originality, invention, the fullest play of the imagination, technology is no more than acquired skill, transmitted by training, requiring at most imitation, or an ability to follow instructions. Such a popular characterization takes on mythic proportions: the alternative modes easily become ‘models,’ emulated and mapped onto various domains. We recognize the distinction, or its analogy, in talk of alternative or conflicting ‘life styles’: the liberated and the repressed. We see its reflection in the contrast between play and work. In social contexts, the counterposition becomes one between a privileged elite, able to exercise its leisure creatively, and a mass, condemned to the workaday repetition of dead tasks merely instrumental, or, as ‘alienated labor’ required by the system. Inevitably, the distinction comes to be mapped onto education, where art and technology may serve as conflicting models of the educational life and process as well.


Technological Model Aesthetic Experience Discipline Work Cultural Myth Educational Life 
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  1. 1.
    George Santayana, The Sense of Beauty: Being the Outline of Aesthetic Theory, Dover, New York, 1955, pp. 17–19.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

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  • Marx W. Wartofsky

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