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Baukasten:English Questionnaire Max Frisch


Posed by Max Frisch when he was awarded the honorary doctorate at the Technological University of Berlin, on June 29th 1987 - The original manuscript written in german can be found in the archive of the university - Translation German-English by André Baier and Andréa El-Khoury. Max Frisch used to ask 25 questions about various topics, i.e. property, love, death, friendship... They are all published in german with the title "Fragebogen" by Suhrkamp, Frankfurt.

These 25 questions highlight the relationship among technology, society and nature. They are not meant to be answered but help students question the benefits and dangers of technology.

Question 1

Are you sure that the preservation of humankind really interests you? Even when you and all the people you know are no longer alive?

Question 2

If your answer is yes, why did you not act differently up until now?

Question 3

What do you think has changed the human society more: the French Revolution or some technological invention such as electricity?

Question 4

Considering everything that we owe today thanks to the technological armament and development, such as the field of kitchen equipment, so are you thankful for the technologists and the ministers of defense who have been using our taxes to support the research of these technologists?

Question 5

As a layman, what invention do you wish for? (keywords are sufficient)

Question 6

Can you actually imagine the existence of mankind (that is: the first world) without a computer?

Question 7

If yes: Do you feel terrified, nostalgic or nothing at all facing a computer, for there is nothing the computer cannot handle?

Question 8

During your lifetime, which devices have been introduced to the market even when they were never needed throughout the human history? Please name these devices without mentioning the manufacturers. Why do you buy these devices: a) for economic growth? b) because you believe the advertisement?

Question 9

Dinosaurs survived 250 million years; how do you imagine an economic growth for 250 million years? (Keywords are sufficient)

Question 10

If a technologist considers him/herself apolitical because he doesn’t give a damn which person in power uses his technological inventions: What do you think of this technologist?

Question 11

Assuming you are satisfied with the present society, because there is no better society to be found: Do you think governments are necessary in the age of practical constraint, as the rulers invoke practical constraints anyway?

Question 12

If someone heard of laser-rays and had no idea what they were, would you, honestly, as a scientist, take seriously the points of view of a layman and consider his/her political demonstration?

Question 13

Do you believe in a republic of scholars?

Question 14

When did technology stop easing the existence of mankind (as was the purpose of devices) and started creating a dominance over us? When did technology create a dominance over nature, which results in taking nature away from us?

Question 15

Assuming that the catastrophe is avoidable, do you think that techno-mania is an irreversible process?

Question 16

Can you imagine a society where scientists are responsible for crimes made possible because of their invention, i.e. a theocracy?

Question 17

Assuming you are not only satisfied with the present society but you answer with tear gas when someone questions this society: Are you not afraid that men are inevitably getting dumber without a big utopia or do you feel so postmodern-comfortable because of that?

Question 18

In terms of technological feasibility, what do you think today of the metaphor from the bible about the forbidden apple from the tree of knowledge? a) do you believe in the freedom of research? b) do you agree with the pope who condemned Galileo for proving that the earth turns around the sun?

Question 19

Considering you are interested in the invention of a device that eliminates public lying: Who do you think would finance such audacious research?

Question 20

Which invention would you not like to see invented?

Question 21

Does it happen that a technological invention, once it is created, refuses a use that is not in the intention of the inventor?

Question 22

Do you think that the current education of the human mind basically leads to self-extinction of our species?

Question 23

What, if not wishful thinking alone, speaks against it?

Question 24

Do you know what encourages you to do research?

Question 25

As a scientist, do you believe in mature technology, meaning a technological research in the scope of a UNIVERSITAS HUMANITATIS, in german: Do you believe in the Technische Universität of Berlin?