Colloquia 2007-2008

Graham Harman

The Medium of Beings Is Itself a Being: Heidegger and McLuhan

January 17, 2008 Cubicus C138, 15.30 – 17.00

In previous publications I have argued that Heidegger’s fourfold (Geviert) is not some flowery, pseudo-poetic excess, but the key to his thinking as a whole. The mirror-play of earth, sky, gods, and mortals arises from two lucid dualisms at the heart of Heidegger’s philosophy. All that is lacking is a detailed account of the mechanics of how the four poles interact with one another. Such an account is found only in Laws of Media, the final work of Marshall McLuhan (co-authored with his son Eric). This lecture compares the “tetrad” of the McLuhans with the fourfold of Heidegger, considering its implications for metaphysics and the philosophy of technology.

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Daniel Cerezuelle

The criticism of industrial civilisation and the issue of the incarnation in Ellul, Charbonneau, and Illich

February 21, 2008 Cubicus C238, 15.30 – 17.00

Bernard Charbonneau was an agnostic, Jacques Ellul a protestant and Ivan

Illich a catholic priest. These three philosophers have in common a same

concern with the dehumanizing potential of modern technology. Although they

do not state it explicitly, the notion of incarnation is the common

touchstone used by these three authors in order to evaluate technology. We

shall delineate the worldview connected with this notion of incarnation and

discuss its relevance for addressing the difficult issue of the limits of

technology.

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Wolter Pieters

La Volonté Machinale. Understanding the Electronic Voting Controversy

March 20, 2008 Cubicus B209, 15.30 – 17.00

In many countries, the use of electronic voting machines in elections has become controversial. It is no longer taken for granted that these computers do what they are supposed to do. Both in the United States and in the Netherlands, devices without a so-called "paper trail" have been decertified. Meanwhile, the rapidly modernising country of Estonia allows its citizens to cast their votes through the Internet, apparently without triggering disaster. What is going on here?

It turns out that understanding the electronic voting controversies is related to answering very old questions: what is nature, what is technology, what is trust? My PhD thesis explores the relation between the electronic voting controversies and such philosophical questions.

This leads to a new look on the scientific discipline of information security, and its efforts to secure both personal and public data in the information age.

http://www.cs.ru.nl/~wolterp/Pieters-La_volonte_machinale.pdf

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Grégoire Chamayou

What if our tools were organs?  Ernst Kapp’s philosophy of technology and beyond

April 17, 2008 Cubicus B209, 15.30 – 17.00

In Darwin among the machines, the essayist Samuel Butler exposed a strange idea: our bodies aren’t constituted by their mere flesh and bones, but also by their coupling with technological extensions around them, which in fact shape themselves into a new kind of being, the technological body. The conception of artifacts as derivating from an “organic projection” has also been developed by a German philosopher, Ernst Kapp, one of the founding fathers of the philosophy of technology, in his seminal essay Grundlinien einer Philosophie der Technik (1877). The theme of an exosomatic body shaping the powers and the ontological nature of the human body has become a common place of the philosophical anthropology of technology. It is the idea that the human nature is historically expressed and constituted by the available technological equipment. This fundamental assumption of technological materialism has been mostly used recently as a narrative ground for prophetical discourses on the future of human nature in general. But strikingly, this conceptual feature hasn’t been so much thematized from the social point of view of the actual differentiation of bodily powers related to the access to technological equipment. Starting from a reading of Kapp’s work, I would like to sketch a political philosophy of technological equipment.

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Workshop Interdisciplinary research

May 23, 2008 Hotel Drienerburght (THIS IS A FRIDAY)

For more information click here.

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Ceptes colloquia are organised for a wide public and are therefore almost always in English.