Who is Afraid of the Political? A Response to Robert Scharff and Michel Puech

Foundations of Science 18 (2):355-360 (2013)

Abstract

In their respective commentaries to my article “Postphenomenology and the Politics of Sustainable Technology” both Robert Scharff and Michel Puech take issue with my postphenomenological inroad into the politics of technology. In a first step I try to accommodate the suggestions and objections raised by Scharff by making my account of the political more explicit. Consequently, I argue how an antagonistic relational conceptualisation of the political allows me to address head on Puech’s plea to leave politics behind and move towards an ethically informed, post-political approach to sustainability. “But perhaps the question philosophy is confronted with—through the question of the political—might be whether not all reasoning, including a purely theoretical reasoning, can truly only be a political reasoning, resulting in an inevitable, indeed necessary circular structure” (Boehm 2002; author’s translation). In a footnote to my original article ‘Postphenomenology and the Politics of Sustainable Technology’, I wrote that “for the purpose of this paper, it suffices to say that I use the adjective ‘political’ to indicate all aspects of human and non-human agency that are related to ‘shaping the good life’ (Goeminne 2011a).” With hindsight, brought about by the commentaries of Scharff (2011) and Puech (2011), I now see that I could not have been more optimistic. Or should I say naïve? Indeed, although coming from different angles and resulting in very different suggestions, both commentaries precisely target my postphenomenological inroad into the ‘politics’ of technology. In challenging my grounding of the politics of technology in a postphenomenological perspective, Scharff in particular invites me to make my notion of the political more explicit. In what follows, I will therefore first elaborate my take on the political dimension of technology in dialogue with Scharff’s comments and suggestions. Armed with this deepened concept of the political, I will then address Puech’s plea to leave politics behind and move towards an ethically informed, post-political approach to sustainability. Evidently, within the limits of this piece, I can only indicate the broader direction my conceptualisation of the political takes. It suffices perhaps to say that, partly induced by the commentaries of Scharff and Puech, the question of the political has meanwhile taken a much more prominent place in my research as can be seen from a few recent publications [e.g. Goeminne (2012) and Goeminne (forthcoming)]. In saying this, I am also expressing my indebtedness to the commentators for nudging me in this political direction

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Citations of this work

Philosophical Potencies of Postphenomenology.Martin Ritter - 2021 - Philosophy and Technology 34 (4):1501-1516.

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