Over the past two decades, proponents of the empirical turn have constructed an intellectual history of the philosophy of technology in which the discipline can be neatly divided between classical and empirical approaches. The latter, influenced by work in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and phenomenology, takes as its starting point that humans and technical artifacts are intertwined and so the challenge for philosophers is conceptualizing the active engagements between humans and technologies without drawing a neat distinction between the two. In contrast, classical approaches, which are associated with philosophers like Martin Heidegger, Herbert Marcuse, and Jacques Ellul, have been deemed "classical" and reduced to essentialist holdovers from the past. In this presentation, I want to challenge this intellectual history by arguing that dialectical and critical philosophies of technology are neither essentialist nor do they rely upon simplistic dichotomies of liberation and domination. Rather, like work in STS and phenomenology, the critical, or dialectical, tradition is empirical and recognizes the inherent contingency of technical design and meaning. Where these approaches differ is that critical theories of technology are historically oriented towards the question of why we have the technologies we do, pointing to the distinctly sociotechnical contexts that precede and give meaning to our everyday experiences while opening up concrete potentials that can realize goals and ambitions that are different than those of the groups who design and administer technologies.