Accepted Paper:

Anthropocentrism and Its Discontents: Mapping Heidegger, Ihde, Latour and Verbeek  


Jacob Wamberg (Aarhus University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper maps technological engagement positions, foregrounding a neoclassical anthropomorphic bias in Heidegger and Don Ihde. Alternatives are Latour’s ANT, reactualizing a tribal immersive worldview, and Ihde’s own and Verbeek’s post-classical hermeneutics that alienates everyday sensations.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I wish to map technological engagement positions in a diagrammatical spatial form that at the same time unfolds an evolutionary logic. My basic idea is that Heidegger's philosophy of technology and its elaboration by Don Ihde has an anthropocentric bias, in which technology either extends the human body unconsciously (embodiment), meets it as another anthropomorphic body (alterity), or withdraws to a peripheral position that confirms the centrality of the body, from which it recedes (background). These positions derive from a classical organic worldview that has carved out an autonomous body from the networks of matter and forces that constituted earlier tribal cultures.

Two routes lead out of this anthropocentric impasse. In the one suggested by Ihde himself and developed by Peter-Paul Verbeek, one moves from the lower body up into the sensorium, a corporeal realm explored since the Middle Ages, in which prosthetic sense impressions, the pre-cognitive percepts, are reflected upon by reason's concepts (hermeneutics), foregrounding world interpretations other than everyday human ones (Kant's understanding). Hereby one acquires a less conflict-ridden insight in technology's operations than the route suggested by Heidegger: technology as simply dysfunctional. In the route suggested by Bruno Latour, one re-immerses the body in the world's networks of matter and forces, including technology, thereby in a secularized form re-actualizing pre-classical worldviews. As Verbeek has indicated, a huge challenge of a reformed philosophy of technology is this: how to bridge hermeneutics with the body-technology-assemblage, subjectivity with immersion?

Panel T145
Postphenomenological Research: Technologies, Robots, and Human Identity