Nihilism and Information Technology

Persian Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 21 (4):29-54 (2020)
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Abstract

Søren Kierkegaard, in his essay "The Present Age," takes a hostile stance towards the press. This is because he maintains that the press prepares the ground for the emergence of nihilism. Hubert Dreyfus extends this idea to other information technologies, especially the Internet. Since Kierkegaard-Dreyfus’ attitude towards various forms of information technology originates from philosophical anthropology and a particular conception of the meaning of life, assessing the viability of the attitude they hold requires further critical scrutiny. This paper aims to show that, although, Kierkegaard’s and Dreyfus' insights are important in understanding the dangers of information technology their approach concerning the meaning of life and human identity is a one-sided analysis of the problem situation; In particular, their reliance on "Unconditional Commitment" could bring about new undesired consequences. This paper emphasizes that an appropriate stance towards information technology needs, among other things, a richer and more effective philosophical anthropology; one that by utilizing religious-moral wisdom in a sensible manner, provides an effective way to safely benefit from various types of technology without falling into the abyss of nihilism. The paper further argues that we also need to provide an institutional control of technology through piecemeal social engineering in a democratic process.

Author Profiles

Ali Paya
University of Westminster
Alireza Mansouri
Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies

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