Published Resources Details Journal Article

White, L.
The Technical Act The Act of Invention: Causes, Contexts, Continuities and Consequences
Technology and Culture
vol. 3, no. 4, 1962, pp. 486-500

Accession No.2073


'The rapidly growing literature on the nature of technological innovation and its relation to other activities is largely rubbish because so few of the relevant concrete facts have thus far been ascertained. It is an inverted pyramid of generalities, the apex of which very nearly a void…

Since man is a hypothesizing animal, there is no point in calling for a moratorium on speculation in this area of thought until more firm facts can be accumulated. Indeed, such a moratorium - even if it were possible - would slow down the growth of factual knowledge because hypothesis normally provokes counter-hypotheses, and then all factions adduce facts in evidence, often-new facts. The best we can do at present is to work hard to find the facts and then to think cautiously about which have been found.

In view of our ignorance, then it would seem wise to discuss the problems of nature, the motivations, the conditioning circumstances, and the effects of the act of invention far less in terms of generality than in terms of specific instances about which something seems to be known.