Theorists and philosophers have been in existence since time immemorial. Some have successfully led the world abreast by coining very useful philosophies and are renowned to this day and age while some theories have been disputed and challenged over time.
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Among the famous philosophers and theorists of our generation who will be keenly looked at in this paper is Manuel Castells, the Spanish sociologist who is most credited for his major works in information society and communications research. Harold Innis is the Canadian professor who is most remembered for his works in communications theories. His works are considered to be in very difficult prose but nonetheless scholars view him as one of the most original Canadian thinkers who ever lived.
Jürgen Habermas, the German philosopher is renowned for his philosophical works particularly in social theory and communication. Finally there is Karl Marx the German political theorist and philosopher whose works revolutionised 19th century affairs in Germany. This paper will essentially look into the relationship between democracy, information, technology and society by comparing and contrasting the works of the four mentioned above.
Harold Innis in his staples thesis is of the view that a society is developed as a result of what is common between all people. He claims that Canada came into being as a result of trade in basic commodities with Europe. It was through this trading that Canada’s cultural links with Europe were cemented. Harold attributes the development of strong institutions in Canada to the trade relations that were developed with the larger Europe region (“Harold Innis and the Staples Theory”, 2011).
Karl Marx and Manuel Castells both are ardent respondents and believers of the European climate in which a complexity of influences is assumed to be the contextual background. They both react to social change in which their consecutive countries are overtaken by conservative forces.
In this case Germany was overtaken by imperialists whereas Spain was under the influence of the fascist for a long period of time. In both these countries the conservative forces are similar in that they reduce the social freedom of their times through the triad of media forms, government controls and industry control. These were situated alongside other countries in Europe who were experiencing revolutions.
The difference in both their views emerges in their interests, which are reveled from the concepts of society that they both proposed. Castells is more interested in developing an informationalist societal system where the authorities focus more on technological paradigm which Castells refers to as informalism.
It is a society that bases its fundamental workings on the capacity of the human mind to process information made as a result of discoveries occurring in the modern world. It also incorporates the use of genetic engineering technology and implementation of microelectronics. According to Castell’s, age has never been a technological matter, it is a matter of social transformation.
It is a process of social change in which technology is inseparable from the social, economic, cultural as well as political trends (Castells, 2004). Karl Marx on the other hand came up with the Marxism concept of society. The Marxist view is both socio-political and economic and contains political ideologies which when incorporated, help tell details on how society can be improved by socialism (“What is Marxism”, 2011).
Jürgen Habermas is of the view that technological knowledge can infiltrate down into the self-understanding of a certain social group. He is of the opinion that technological knowledge is best communicated through literature in order to filter to the social world (Rizvi, 2008).
This view is different from Castell’s who is of the opinion that technological advancement is the best way to push forward the world. According to him exploiting the abilities of the human mind by the use technological resources will help the world move in leaps and bounds. It is thus safe to say that Jürgen is more for the literal view whereas Castell’s is more action oriented in terms of technology.
In terms of information Jürgen is of the view that information is only useful when exploited for either productive and developmental matters or disparaging matters. It is only this way that its radical uses can be fully accepted and the results appreciated in the real life world.
He gives the example of the Hiroshima bomb in Japan and says the poems that were written as a result of that destructive bomb, arose as a reaction to the event and not from the discrete elaboration of the whole process, of transforming mass into energy which is far more matriculate (Rizvi, 2008). He holds this opinion with Castell. Castell believes that information is only as useful as it is disseminated to the eminent users of the particular piece of information (Castells, 2004). Karl Marx was also of a similar opinion as this other two theorists.
He believed that the reason the working class were oppressed is as a result of their dire lack of information which was hidden from them by the superiors to further facilitate there exploitation. He says in the Marxist theory that by concealing information the superiors were able to retain their superiority and hence went on oppressing the workers. Thus information is the absolute weapon of control used by the superiors showing how important information is (“What is Marxism”, 2011).
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In conclusion, this paper has tried to give the different views of the four theorists. There variant viewpoints aid the reader in understanding the difference as well as similarities between those key terms. All the four theorists are brought out to be individuals of variant opinion on all the four subjects which in essence serves to reveal the individuality in each of the four of them.
An individual reading this paper is able to understand the difference between these terms as has been displayed from the collection of the works of the writers. It comes out clear from this paper that all the four individuals hold a similar view on information.
Castells, M. (2004). Information, Networks and the network society: A theoretical blueprint. Citeseer. Web.
“Harold Innis and staples theory”. (2011). History RFD. Web.
Rizvi, A. (2008). Marcuse or Harbermas: Two critiques of technology. Habermasian reflections. Web.
“What is Marxism?” (2011). All about philosophy. Web.