Sloppy Prose

“Lazy” might be the better term here. In any case, I’ll plop you down mid-thought:

It is not that the ideas from Kevin Kelly, Ian Bogost, Levi Bryant, and Ray Kurzweil, as well as post- and transhumanists in general, are right—nor wrong. It is that their words and ideas take hold in our imagination. They (lazy pronoun reference: the words, ideas or authors) inspire us to imagine other ways of viewing the world, our place in it, and our relationships with the other objects in this world. What Ian Bogost, among others, is able to do is dazzle his audience with language: writing, producing images for his readers, crafting metaphors and juxtaposing objects to spark the imagination in others, inspiring new litanies, new connections.
Un-disciplined philosophy of technology (UPoT), based in part on the pragmatism of postphenomenology, aims to inspire habits. Ihde’s postphenomenology (cite Carl Mitcham from Evan Selinger’s edited text), in particular his variational method, is a means of promoting (prompting) habits, styles of thinking and being, in relation to technologies. As Sloterdijk claims, humans are shepherds of being, and we discipline ourselves through our use, creation, and ideas about technologies. The variational method requires us to recognize that the way we see the world, technologies and nonhumans included, must include more perspectives than those that we first imagine. The gestalt shift metaphor serves to remind us of the layers hidden, yet painted so clearly that they should be obvious; the aspects we have not yet imagined or barely realized. The method of postphenomenology asks us to live, to experience, our relationships with the world and our technologies in ways that force us to examine critically how we may have initially interpreted them. As we translate/transform the world for ourselves, we change ourselves, our habits, and our ways of being in the world.

A philosophy of technology is a challenge, even to the initiated, to imagine the world, ourselves, etc., in manners previously unvoiced—to speak and think in ways that seem foreign until they no longer seem so distant. Heidegger rightly viewed technology as a challenging-forth, as instantiations of such methods later found in postphenomenology. Building off of the challenging-forth of postphenomenology, UPoT pushes the challenge beyond academic philosophers and calls upon lay publics to take up the variational method, to see in our technologies more than the advertisements, the hope, the instantiations of specific artifacts. We should see ourselves transformed by, through and into our technologies. By acknowledging the values in our technologies, like efficiency, discipline, and profitability, we can see beyond those values and imagine our technologies as more than a sum of these parts. That technologies take on different meanings in specific contexts, the thrust of social constructivist positions regarding technology, and are influencing-influenced. Technological determinism remains viable because we permit ourselves to imagine ourselves and our world as mere products of the technologies we have created and implemented. Philosophy of technology sets the human free, but it also sets free the nonhuman.

Transhumanism and posthumanism would both be better served by paying more attention to objects, animate and inanimate. The ideals of transhumanism, that technologies can benefit all of humanity, miss a key aspect of technologies: technology forces us to examine ourselves, to seek our own essences alongside the essences of technologies. UPoT is both significant and not: its strengths are not its novel perspectives—indeed, one may fairly critique it as derivative of postphenomenology, technological mediation, OOO and SR. Instead, UPoT merely takes the task of assessing, critiquing and working with technology and places those practices/habits in more direct, everyday, lived experiences of the lay publics. The un-disciplined philosopher of technology writes/performs in arenas at once pedestrian and transcendental: it asks those cognizant beings, those able to hear and interpret the messages for themselves, to take active parts in the reshaping of habit. UPoT is, thus, explicitly political and moral in that it is challenging and a challenge. Our task in elucidating philosophy of technology should be to make PoT part of daily habits, our daily reflections and awareness.


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