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Koers (Online) vol.75 n.4 Pretoria  2010







P. Simons

(retired). Wellington, New Zealand. E-mail:




Modern society is characterised not only by a fascination with scientific technology as a means of solving all problems, especially those that stand in the way of material progress (technicism), but also by an obsessive interest in everything that has to do with money (economism or mammonism). The article discusses the relationship between technicism and economism, on the basis of their relationship to utilitarian thinking: the quest for the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. Recent major studies of neo-liberalism (seen as an intensification of utilitarianism) by Laval and Dardot are used as reference to the development of utilitarianism. It is suggested that the western view of the world, as expressed in economism and technicism, with a utilitarian ethics, features three absolutisations: those of theoretical thinking, technology and economics. In a second part, the article draws on the framework of reformational philosophy to suggest an approach that, in principle, is not marred by such absolutisations.

Key concepts: economism, neo-liberalism, technicism, utilitarianism


Die moderne samelewing word nie alleen gekenmerk deur 'n fassinasie met wetenskaplike tegnologie as middel om alle probleme, veral dié wat in die pad staan van materiële vooruitgang (tegnisisme), op te los nie, maar ook deur 'n obsessiewe belangstelling in alles wat te make het met geld (ekonomisme of mammonisme). Hierdie artikel bespreek die verhouding tussen tegnisisme en ekonomisme, gegrond op albei se verhouding tot die nuttigheidsdenke: die soektog na die grootste geluk vir die grootste hoeveelheid mense. 'n Onlangse studie van neo-liberalisme (gesien as 'n versterking van die nuttigheidsleer) deur Laval en Dardot, word as verwysing gebruik vir die ontwikkeling van die nuttigheidsleer. Dit word beweerdat die westerse beskouing van die wêreld met 'n nuttigheidsetiek soos geopenbaar in die ekonomisme en tegnisisme, deur drie verab-soluterings gekenmerk word, naamlik van teoretiese, tegnologiese en ekonomiese denke. In 'n tweede gedeelte bou die artikel op die raamwerk van die reformatoriese filosofie omn benadering aan die hand te doen wat in beginsel nie geskaad word deur sodanige verabsolutering nie.

Kernbegrippe: ekonomisme, neo-liberalisme, nuttigheidsleer, tegnisisme



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