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CfH Lectures


After a long period of hostility between the “two cultures” of the humanities and the sciences, by now technology has become a full-blown field of research for the humanities. But how to investigate technology and its relations to society and culture? In this lecture Professor Peter-Paul Verbeek argues that philosophy of technology should in fact be philosophy ‘from’ technology. Rather than applying existing philosophical and ethical theories to technologies, the philosophy of technology should take actual technologies and technological developments as a starting point for philosophical analysis. Technology in fact urges us to rethink philosophy itself.
The approach of ‘technological mediation’ offers a fruitful way for doing precisely that. It approaches technologies as mediating entities between human beings and reality. When we use technologies, they help to shape human perceptions, interpretations, and practices. This mediating role of technologies has serious implications for philosophy, since it requires us to rethink its main subfields, such as epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics. On the basis of their mediating roles, after all, technologies help to shape human understandings of the world, normative actions and decisions, and metaphysical frameworks. Philosophy needs to give technology a place at the center of its working field.
In order investigate the phenomenon of technological mediation, the lecture focuses on two technological domains: imaging technologies and reproductive technologies. Both domains have crucial epistemological, ethical, and metaphysical dimensions. How do imaging technologies constitute the fetus and the brain, and how does this inform our understanding of ourselves and our offspring? How do gender selection technologies reorganize moral and political frameworks and actions? How does Google Glass reorganize the character of public space and our understanding of the world and each other? And how do brain imaging technologies and reproductive technologies help to shape experiences of transcendence, reorganizing the boundaries between the given and the made, fate and responsibility?