Crossing the Postmodern Divide with Borgmann or Adventures in Cyberspace

In his major works, Albert Borgmann has explored in depth and detail the role of technology in contemporary life and provided compelling critical, philosophical perspectives. In this study, I primarily discuss Crossing the Postmodern Divide (1992) in relation to the themes of his earlier Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life (1984). While appreciating Borgmann's attempt to provide distinctions between modernity and postmodernity as historical epochs, I challenge his analysis of a postmodern divide and sketch out an alternative conception of technology that critically engages some of Borgmann's positions. My argument will be that while technology threatens democracy, community, individual sovereignty, and other values many of us hold in common, it also provides the potential for a positive reconstruction of social life and an enhancement of human life. My provocation will be to deconstruct what I take to be a too sharp distinction in Borgmann's text between a "hyperreal" technosphere contrasted to a "real" world of concrete human interaction and focal activities. I attempt to show that some of Borgmann's own positive values can be realized in the cyberspaces of the new technologies and provide some examples. These reflections will force us to rethink the concepts of the public sphere, democracy, community, and technology.
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