Saving Earth: encountering Heidegger's philosophy of technology in the anthropocene

Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 21 (2/3):222-242 (2017)
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Abstract

In this paper, we argue that the Anthropocene is relevant for philosophy of technology because it makes us sensitive to the ontological dimension of contemporary technology. In §1, we show how the Anthropocene has ontological status insofar as the Anthropocenic world appears as managerial resource to us as managers of our planetary oikos. Next, we confront this interpretation of the Anthropocene with Heidegger’s notion of “Enframing” to suggest that the former offers a concrete experience of Heidegger’s abstract, notoriously difficult, and allegedly totalitarian concept. In consequence, technology in the Anthropocene cannot be limited to the ontic domain of artefacts, but must be acknowledged to concern the whole of Being. This also indicates how the Anthropocene has a technical origin in an ontological sense, which is taken to imply that the issue of human responsibility must be primarily understood in terms of responsivity. In the final section, we show how the Anthropocene is ambiguous insofar as it both accords and discords with what Heidegger calls the “danger” of technology. In light of this ambiguity, the Earth gains ontic-ontological status, and we therefore argue that Heidegger’s unidirectional consideration concerning the relation between being and beings must be reoriented. We conclude that the Anthropocene entails that Heidegger’s consideration of the “saving power” of technology as well as the comportment of “releasement” must become Earthbound, thereby introducing us to a saving Earth.

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Vincent Blok
Wageningen University and Research

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