Phenomenology and the Empirical Turn: a Phenomenological Analysis of Postphenomenology

Philosophy and Technology 29 (4):313-333 (2016)
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Abstract

This paper provides a phenomenological analysis of postphenomenological philosophy of technology. While acknowledging that the results of its analyses are to be recognized as original, insightful, and valuable, we will argue that in its execution of the empirical turn, postphenomenology forfeits a phenomenological dimension of questioning. By contrasting the postphenomenological method with Heidegger’s understanding of phenomenology as developed in his early Freiburg lectures and in Being and Time, we will show how the postphenomenological method must be understood as mediation theory, which adheres to what Heidegger calls the theoretical attitude. This leaves undiscussed how mediation theory about ontic beings involves a specific ontological mode of relating to beings, whereas consideration of this mode is precisely the concern of phenomenology. This ontological dimension is important to consider, since we will argue that postphenomenology is unwittingly technically mediated in an ontological way. The upshot of this is that in its dismissal of Heidegger’s questioning of technology as belonging to “classical philosophy of technology,” postphenomenology implicitly adheres to what Heidegger calls technology as Enframing. We argue that postphenomenology overlooks its own adherence to the theoretical attitude and ultimately to Enframing, and we will conclude with calling for a phenomenological questioning of the dimension that postphenomenology presently leaves unthought, meaning that we will develop a plea for a rehabilitation of the ontological dimension in the philosophy of technology.

Author Profiles

Vincent Blok
Wageningen University and Research
Jochem Zwier
Radboud University Nijmegen

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