Three Stages of Technical Artifacts’ Life Cycle: Based on a Four Factors Theory

  • Nan Wang
  • Bocong LiEmail author
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 31)


Technical artifacts had been a lost theme in philosophy for a long time until the emergence of philosophy of technology in the end of nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, Herbert Simon put forward sciences of the artificial, and Peter Kroes and Anthonie Meijers proposed a theory of the dual nature of technical artifacts. From the point of view of philosophy of technology, Aristotle’s four causes theory is an explanation on the nature of technical artifacts in essence rather than that of the natural world. However, Aristotle, Simon, Kroes and Meijers did not pay attention to technical artifacts’ life cycle, which inevitably leads to the failure of their theory of technical artifacts to some extent. The fact that technical artifacts, like living beings, are as mortal as human beings means that they also have a life cycle from birth to death. In order to interpret these phenomena, we plan to raise a theory of four factors of technical artifacts. However, this paper only aims to define the life cycle of technical artifacts as three stages, i.e. creation, vitality, and ending. And it also going to examine the creation stage and re-interpret Aristotle’s four causes theory according to the four factors theory.


Technical artifact Life cycle Three stages Four factors 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social ScienceUniversity of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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