Beyond Postphenomenolgy: Ihde’s Heidegger and the Problem of Authenticity

Human Studies 42 (4):601-619 (2019)
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Abstract

The quickening pace of technological development on a global scale and its increasing impact on the relation between human beings and their lifeworld has led to a surge in philosophical discussions concerning technology. Philosophy of technology after the “empirical turn” has been dominated by three approaches: actor-network theory, critical theory of technology and postphenomenology. Recently, scholars have started to question the philosophical roots of these approaches. This paper critically questions Ihde’s early adoption of Heidegger’s philosophy of technology in postphenomenology. First, the paper clarifies the central contributions of Heidegger’s philosophy of technology to postphenomenology. It then uses Heidegger’s early work on Aristotle to argue that Ihde’s notion of “use context” is based on a distorted account of Heidegger’s notion of the “totality of relevance”. Correspondingly, it contends that this has led to a misinterpretation of Heidegger’s technology critique. Second, an alternative reading of Heidegger’s ideas concerning technology is offered. This reading traces Heidegger’s use of the concept of telos in the totality of relevance to his discussion of Aristotelian virtue. It is subsequently shown how the question of the temporality of the mode of being of virtue is related to the notion of authenticity, which lies at the heart of Heidegger’s philosophy. Finally, the paper argues that postphenomenology could gain from philosophers who targeted Heidegger’s central notion of authenticity, notably Arendt and Ricoeur.

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