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Chapter 20 ~ “A Philosophical-Anthropological Perspective on Technology” by Arnold Gehlen August 31, 2009

Posted by Shon in 5369, Carter, Philosophy of Technology, TCR.
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“…the necessity for technology derives man’s organ deficiencies.”

In the beginning of Arnold Gehlen’s article, Gehlen expresses the notion that to live, man needs to build an environment that is suitable for his survival. Because of this, technology becomes not only the tools used to build said environment, but also the skills needed to create the tools.

Using Kapp’s concept of “organ projection,” Gehlen moves next to illustrate how we then interpret the tools man uses; there are three types:

–Organic relief
–Organic substitution or replacement
–Organic strengthening or improvement.

Like others we’ve read for week one, Gehlen points to a shift that occurred in the 18th century between tools and man’s purpose in using said tools. Pre-18th century, tools were a means to an end. Post-18th century, tools become part of the building of an abstract reality for man.

This article does, like other readings before it, makes me think of human freedom and ethics. In discussing technological development to date, he uses a law formulated by Hermann Schmidt, in which Schmidt sees the “objectification of human” work as a process that passes through three phases that concludes with the intellectual contribution of the subject (man) being dispensed with by technological means.

Are we at a place where we no longer control technology?

If there’s still hope to control it and to find some form of moral ground to do so, how do we go about controlling it?

Are we truly free living in a technological world in which we seem to be spiraling with loose footing?

I don’t know.

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