Technological Ways of Seeing
Christopher Edwards, PhD Candidate
In this lecture, I will draw on the work of Martin Heidegger to provide a critical account of the way our understanding of the world is shaped by modern technology. Specifically, I claim that our everyday lives have become increasingly framed by a very particular, and, therefore limited form of technological reasoning that I call ‘instrumental reason’. In doing so, my broader aim is to illustrate the intimate relation between modern science and technology, which both rest on this particular form of reasoning. The danger of instrumental reasoning, I argue, is that the world around us is reduced to the level of ‘raw material’ that we can achieve complete mastery over. The consequence is that the world becomes emptied of all mystery, all vagueness, all that we might call ‘spiritual’ or, perhaps, more accurately empty of all that is human. In other words, the danger of technological reasoning is that it works to seduce us into the belief that we can master the world around us, when, in fact, it is technology that masters us. My conclusion is that the technological framing of the world is one interpretation among others, and by no means the final or ultimate interpretation of our current situation. Rather, we must challenge ourselves to new ways of thinking in order to avoid losing our humanity.