Philosophies of Life Technologies
Instructor: Torgeir Fjeld
This course presents a distinct view of technology and technological change. As we situate technology within various philosophies of the event we learn to appreciate a whole range of life techniques for ethical – good – living in the event of technology. This course gives a solid introduction into the philosophy of Ereignis. The course is designed for anyone interested in ethics, philosophy of technology, contemporary psychoanalysis, or cultural analysis.
This course seeks to
- Present a distinct view of technology and technological change;
- Situate technology within various philosophies of the event;
- Suggest a series of life techniques for ethical — good — living in the event of technology.
Students who register for this course get:
- 12 video-taped lectures, with a total running time of 210 minutes;
- An indicative reading list;
- A set of optional tasks to check your learning;
- Course diploma (beta version).
- Interest in philosophy, ethics, or cultural analysis.
- Anyone interested in ethics, philosophy of technology, contemporary psychoanalysis, or cultural analysis;
- Some previous knowledge of European philosophy an advantage, but not required.
We begin by situating our course in the philosophical tradition and within the philosophy of technology. One key assumption in this course is that a technical approach cannot elide issues of ethics, politics, or debate. Instead we take the view that technology is an event that is both external and inherent to the human subject. How can we ground a thinking about technology as event to specific techniques that enable the good life?
In this lecture we discuss Geert Lovink’s approach to technology. In his view we have reached an impasse where we no longer believe in a simple emancipatory potential of the internet. What are some pitfalls, and what is the way out of our current situation?
Martin Heidegger had a distinct view on technology. Here we discuss what he saw as the danger of our technological epoch, and how we can allow things to appear as they truly are.
To Wolfgang Schirmacher our view on technology is best referred to as an “instrumental prejudice.” Instead of this destructive, survival-oriented approach he holds out a technique that allows things to appear “in a sudden glimpse and yet as if eternally.”
In this lecture we discuss further what Martin Heidegger meant by the term : event, appropriation, articulation. As a poetic and artistic happening it was an event that provided a path back to a sacred place. To Heidegger the referred to the bringing of Being into its own.
Wolfgang Schirmacher holds that technology should rather be seen as an event than an epoch, as Heidegger preferred. This technological event is comic in character, and it includes all manner of human activity, from our first breath to our tinkering with the atoms. Technologies happen, and they provide us with ways to experience truth.
To Alain Badiou it is philosophy that provides this kind of event that through silence can touch the most mystical truths. The life of the philosopher can provide us with ways to live beautifully and gracefully, and it is through such a “way of living” that we can enable the presence of the unsayable core of our existence.
Naturalisation refers social or cultural practices to nature, and by the same token normalises them. The effect of this is to place our social configuration beyond human undoing, to remove it from perspectives that take absolutism or “naturalist essentialism” as their ground.
Homo Generator is a figure that provides us with a generative approach to the good life in a post-modern, mediated world. This is a figure that enjoys life without knowing why, and who act without believing in the principles behind our actions. Homo Generator provides a formula to operate invisible to our censor, and beyond good and evil.
Concealment is a technique that enable us to transport between profound, existential happenings of truth-events and our everyday lives. Our most revelatory moments are essentially ethical openings that stick out from the ordinary. In order to carry on living sanely these moments should be carefully concealed. By covering them over we can continue our lives in silent preparation.
Praising, or glorification, prepares the ground for an event that is prior to knowledge and ethics, and this is the event of what the ancient philosopher Heraclitus called the originating flash or lightning of insight. The technique of praising can aid us in experiencing this ground of knowledge. By passively resting and glorifying we can approximate truth and the good life.
In our concluding remarks we ask how we can make the event of technology inhabitable. Can we be released from a situation where we are in danger of letting technologies become our masters, and instead find a new beginning, a beautiful, graceful life where we come closer to the hidden, cosmic truths of our being?
Register to download the reading list
Register to download the assignment sheet