Marcuse’s philosophy of nature is closely bound up with his concepts of the erotic and the aesthetic. This paper discusses the connection and shows how themes from the early Marx, Heideggerian phenomenology, and Hegel come together in his work. Marcuse’s early writings under the influence of Heidegger focus on the unity of the living human subject and its environment. The later works develop a similar conception in terms of the aesthetic relation to nature and technological transformation.
Critical theory of technology brings technology studies to bear on the social theory of rationality. This paper discusses this connection through a reconsideration of the contribution of the Frankfurt School to our understanding of what I call the paradox of rationality, the fact that the promise of the Enlightenment has been disappointed as advances in scientific and technical knowledge have led to more and more catastrophic consequences. The challenge for critical theory is to understand this paradox without romantic and anti-modern (...) afterthoughts as a contribution to a progressive worldview. (shrink)
In this reply I address problems identified by my critics in my concept of formal bias, my use of phenomenology, the relation between my work and McLuhan’s media theory, and the relation of science to technology.
Book Symposium on Andrew Feenberg’s Between Reason and Experience: Essays in Technology and Modernity Content Type Journal Article Pages 203-226 DOI 10.1007/s13347-011-0017-8 Authors Inmaculada de Melo-Martín, Division of Medical Ethics, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY 10065, USA David B. Ingram, Loyola University Chicago, 6525 North Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626, USA Sally Wyatt, e-Humanities Group, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) & Maastricht University, Cruquiusweg 31, 1019 AT Amsterdam, The Netherlands Yoko Arisaka, Forschungsinstitut für Philosophie Hannover, (...) Gerberstrasse 26, 30169 Hannover, Germany Andrew Feenberg, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University at Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3, Canada Journal Philosophy & Technology Online ISSN 2210-5441 Print ISSN 2210-5433 Journal Volume Volume 24 Journal Issue Volume 24, Number 2. (shrink)
The aim of this inquiry is to investigate Heidegger's ontology of technology. We will show that this ontology is aporetic. In Heidegger's key technical essays, ?The question concerning technology? and its earlier versions ?Enframing? and ?The danger?, enframing is described as the ontological basis of modern life. But the account of enframing is ambiguous. Sometimes it is described as totally binding and at other times it appears to allow for exceptions. This oscillation between, what we will call total enframing and (...) partial enframing, is underscored in the work of two influential scholars of Heidegger's later thought, Hubert Dreyfus and Iain Thomson. We will show that like Heidegger, Dreyfus and Thomson unwittingly perpetuate this dilemma that ultimately covers up the aporetic structure of enframing. (shrink)
Though we may be competent at using many technologies, most of what we think we know about technology in general is false. Our error stems from the everyday conception of things as separate from each other and from us. In reality technologies belong to an interconnected network the nodes of which cannot exist independently qua technologies. What is more we tend to see technologies as quasi-natural objects, but they are just as much social as natural, just as much determined by (...) the meanings we give them as by the causal laws that rule over their powers. The errors of common sense have political consequences in domains such as, development, medicine and environmental policy. In this paper I summarize many of the conclusions philosophy of technology has reached reflecting on the reality of our technological world. These conclusions appear as paradoxes judged from our everyday perspective.This paper presents a philosophy of technology. It draws on what we have learnt in the last 30 years as we abandoned old Heideggerian and positivist notions and faced the real world of technology. It turns out that most of our common sense ideas about technology are wrong. This is why I have put my ten propositions in the form of paradoxes, although I use the word loosely here to refer to the counter-intuitive nature of much of what we know about technology. (shrink)
The most effective way to silence criticism is a justification on the very terms of the likely critique. When an action is rationally justified, how can reason deny its legitimacy? This paper concerns critical strategies that have been employed for addressing the resistance of rationality to rational critique especially with respectto technology. Foucault addressed this problem in his theory of power/knowledge. This paper explores Marx’s anticipation of that approach in his critique of the “social rationality” of the market and technology. (...) Marx got around the silencing effect of social rationality with something very much like the concept ofunderdetermination in his discussion of the length of the working day. There are hints of a critique of technology in his writings as well. In the 1960s and ‘70s, neo-Marxists and post-structuralists demanded radical changes in the technological rationality of advanced societies. Marcuse proposed the most developed Marxist theory of alternative technology, based on a synthesis of aesthetics and technical rationality. The concept of underdetermination was finally formulated clearly in contemporary science and technology studies, but without explicit political purpose. Nevertheless, this revision of the academic understanding of technology contributes to weakening technocratic rationales for public policy. A new era of technical politics has begun. It is time to reevaluate the history of technology critique in the light of this unprecedented situation. (shrink)
This essay argues that the events of May ’68 were not without substantial political content. Drawing on the May Events Archives at SFU, the author argues that the protests were not a vastly overblown student plank, but represented an important attempt to establish a politics of civilizational identity and to answer the questions: what kind of people are we, and what can we expect as a basic minimum level of justice and equality in our affairs?
This paper explores the sense in which modern societies can be said to be rational. Social rationality cannot be understood on the model of an idealized image of scientific method. Neither science nor society conforms to this image. Nevertheless, critique is routinely silenced by neo-liberal and technocratic arguments that appeal to social simulacra of science. This paper develops a critical strategy for addressing the resistance of rationality to rational critique. Romantic rejection of reason has proven less effective than strategies that (...) conceptualize modern artefacts, systems, and organizations as rationally underdetermined. This approach first appears in Marx's analysis of capitalist economics. Although he lacks the concept of underdetermination, Marx gets around the silencing effect of social rationality with something very much like it in his discussion of the length of the working day. Frankfurt School Critical Theory later blended romantic elements with Marxian ones in a suggestive but ambiguous mixture. The concept of underdetermination reappears in contemporary science and technology studies, now clearly articulated and philosophically and sociologically elaborated. But somewhere along the way the critical thrust was diluted. Critical theory of technology attempts to recover that thrust. Here its approach is generalized to cover the three main forms of social rationality. (shrink)
In his critique of my book Heidegger and Marcuse, Jeff Kochan (2006) asserts that I am committed to the possibility of private knowledge, transcendent truths, and individualism. In this reply I argue that he has misinterpreted my analysis of the Challenger disaster and Marcuse’s work. Because I do not dismiss Roger Boisjoly’s doubts about the Challenger launch, Kochan believes that I have abandoned a social concept of knowledge for a reliance on the private knowledge of a single individual. In fact, (...) I consider Boisjoly’s observations just as social, if not as scientific, as the results of rigorous scientific study. Kochan’s reliance on a principle of symmetry derived from science studies to explain such politically charged technological controversies tends to mask the role of power and ideology in social life. Kochan interprets Marcuse as a failed Heideggerian who regresses from Heidegger’s social conception of human being to traditional individualism. I am accused of sharing this view. This interpretation overlooks the importance of the Hegelian–Marxist category of ‘real possibility’ in Marcuse’s work and so mistakes his critique of conformist politics for individualist romanticism. Marcuse always attempted to ground radical opposition in a community of struggle without abandoning the heritage of a long critical tradition. This view I willingly share. Keywords: Philosophy of technology; Principle of symmetry; Challenger disaster; Herbert Marcuse; Martin Heidegger; Knowledge . (shrink)
Thoroughly revised, this new edition of Critical Theory of Technology rethinks the relationships between technology, rationality, and democracy, arguing that the degradation of labor--as well as of many environmental, educational, and political systems--is rooted in the social values that preside over technological development. It contains materials on political theory, but the emphasis has shifted to reflect a growing interest in the fields of technology and cultural studies.
As users of computer networks have become more active in producing their own electronic records, in the form of transcripts of onlinediscussions, ethicists have attempted to interpret this new situation interms of earlier models of personal data protection. But thistransference results in unprecedented problems for researchers. Thispaper examines some of the central dichotomies and paradoxes in thedebate on research ethics online in the context of the concrete study ofa virtual community that we carried out. We argue that alienation, notprivacy, is (...) the actual core of the ethical problems of virtual communityresearch. While practically everybody is allowed and often welcome tojoin online communities (which undermines the claim to privacy), mostparticipants would agree that members and visitors are not authorized touse, or `harvest,'' or sell the product of the group communication. To dothat, they would be expected to ask for permission preferably before thecontent has been produced, thus granting participants'' right to controltheir own product. This `non-alienation principle'' should be the basisof emergent social conventions in cyberspace. It would apply toresearchers as to anyone else. With certain types of research, wesuggest, cyberspace provides unique opportunities for empoweringsubjects by involving them as contributors in the research project. (shrink)
This reply to criticism of Questioning Technology by Gerald Doppeltaddresses differences between political philosophy and philosophy oftechnology. While political philosophers such as Doppelt emphasize procedural aspects of democracy and equal rights, many philosophers of technologyimplicitly assume a substantive criterion of the good centered on thedevelopment of human capacities. Questioning Technology alsoemphasizes the diminishing agency of individuals in technologically advanced societies dominated by large scale organizations and themass media. These themes of social critique complement the main focusof political philosophy. Political philosophy (...) must learn to addresstechnical issues as it has learned to address other social issuessuch as race and gender. (shrink)
1. Thomson's critique: Despite the efforts of his followers to show that Heidegger had a progressive theory of technology, his work is clouded by nostalgia. His positive contribution is a fragmentary opening toward a phenomenology of daily technical practice, which I use to develop de Certeau's distinction between the strategic control of technical systems and their tactical usage by subordinates. Heidegger himself made no such application of his own phenomenological approach. 2. Stump's critique: Can an ontological essentialism and a historically (...) oriented constructivism be combined as Questioning Technology attempts to do? Stump claims they cannot, but assumes that I accept far more ontological and epistemological baggage from each position than I do. In fact, what I retain from essentialism is primarily the analysis of the basic technical relation to reality, and from constructivism, historical and hermeneutic methods of analysis of the realization of that relation in actual systems and devices. These elements of the two theories are compatible. (shrink)
Iain Thomson's critique is persuasive on several points but not on the major issue, the relation of the ontological to the ontic in Heidegger's philosophy of technology. This reply attempts to show that these two dimensions of Heidegger's theory are closely related, at least in the technological domain, and not separate, as Thomson affirms. It is argued that Heidegger's evaluations of particular technologies, the flaws of which Thomson concedes, proceed from a flawed ontological conception.
The word "experience" refers to at least four different concepts: empirical experience, lived experience, experience as Bildung, and the domain of pure consciousness prior to the division of subject and object. All these concepts of experience are at work in the thought of Nishida Kitarō, where they take on a specific historical and political character in response to the situation of Japan in the world system.
The debate between Marcuse and Habermas over technology marked a significant turning point in the history of the Frankfurt School. After the 1960s Habermas's influence grew as Marcuse's declined and Critical Theory adopted a far less Utopian stance. Recently there has been a revival of quite radical technology criticism in the environmental movement and under the influence of Foucault and constructivism. This article takes a new look at the earlier debate from the standpoint of these recent developments. While much of (...) Habermas's argument remains persuasive, his defense of modernity now seems to concede far too much to the claims of autonomous technology. His essentialist picture of technology as an application of a purely instrumental form of nonsocial rationality is less plausible after a decade of historicizing research in technology studies. The article argues that Marcuse was right after all to claim that technology is socially determined even if he was unable to develop his insight fruitfully. The article derives a new approach to technology criticism from both constructivism and Habermas's communication theory. The essence of technology is shown to be historical and reflexive, like the essence of other social institutions. As such an institution, its rationality is always implemented in value?biased forms subject to political critique. (shrink)
This paper argues, against technological and economic determinism, that the dominant model of industrial society is politically contingent. The idea that technical decisions are significantly constrained by ?rationality? ? either technical or economic ? is shown to be groundless. Constructivist and hermeneutic approaches to technology show that modern societies are inherently available for a different type of development in a different cultural framework. It is possible that, in the future, those who today are subordinated to technology's rhythms and demands will (...) be able to control it and to determine its evolution. I call the process of creating such a society ?subversive rationalization? because it requires technological advances that can only be made in opposition to the dominant hegemony. (shrink)
Modern technology is more than a neutral tool: it is the framework of our civilization and shapes our way of life. Social critics claim that we must choose between this way of life and human values. Critical Theory of Technology challenges that pessimistic cliche. This pathbreaking book argues that the roots of the degradation of labor, education, and the environment lie not in technology per se but in the cultural values embodied in its design. Rejecting such popular solutions as economic (...) simplicity or spiritual renewal, Feenberg presents a compelling argument for broader democratic participation in technological choices. This book will be of special interest to scholars and students of philosophy, sociology, contemporary Marxism, and Critical Theory. (shrink)
This acclaimed book is the first comparative evaluation of two primary sources of the Western Marxist tradition: Marx's Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts and History and Class Consciousness by Georg Luk'acs. Andrew Feenberg offers a new interpretation of the theories of alienation and reification as the basis of a Marxist approach to the cultural contradictions of contemporary society.
In May of 1968 ten million French workers transformed a student protest into a revolutionary movement by joining it in the streets. In the short space of a month France was overthrown and restored, but not without suffering a shock which resounds to this day. Like many an unsuccessful revolution before it, the May Events triumphed in the political culture of the society that defeated it in the streets. In the perspective of ten years, it now appears that May '68 (...) inaugurated a new era in French political life, which still continues.The May Events lay at the intersection of two histories: not only did the new left of the sixties peak in France in 1968, but France gave the first signal of the political instability that has overtaken much of Southern Europe in the seventies. In 1968 no one imagined that the Events would be relayed by an electoral movement such as Eurocommunism. Then the talk was all of the “senility” and “sclerosis” of the official opposition parties. In fact the May Events overthrew not the Gaullist state, but the narrow ideological horizons of the old left it challenged in challenging capitalism in new ways. The Events transformed the popular image of socialism in France, contributing to the collapse of moribund Stalinist and social democratic traditions, and to the rise of an aggressive Eurocommunist movement. Some of the most important ideas of May continue to live through this movement.The paradoxical survival of themes and hopes from the sixties in the mainstream politics of France in the seventies testifies to the need for a new interpretation of both the May Events and their Eurocommunist successor. In the pages that follow I will reconsider the May Events in the light of four of these themes, which have a continuing relevance. They are: the struggle against technocracy; a new and more libertarian image of socialism; the rejection of authority relations in the workplace; the ideological crisis of the middle strata. In challenging both the French establishment and its official opposition around these themes, the May Events radically altered the cultural presuppositions of the French political system, with consequences that are still unfolding. The remembering of May 1968 is therefore also a moment in the dialectics of the present. (shrink)