10:30 AM to 11:45 AM MW
Art & Design Building 2026
Section Information for Fall 2023
Fall 2023 theme: Techne, Technology and Nature
This course examines philosophical questions surrounding technology, nature and human nature and is divided into three basic parts: historical origin of the question of technology, modern developments of these questions, and contemporary explorations of technology as post-human. Plato and Aristotle provide the basic framework for the course by introducing the key contrast between techne (art) and physis (nature) and the idea of techne as prosthesis. Rousseau introduces flexibility and reflexivity into the technology-nature relation and draws attention to the way in which tools (prosthetics) change both nature and human nature: specifically by the creation of ‘second nature’.
The second part of the course develops the relation between human nature and technology and the idea of technology as prosthesis through the work of Karl Marx and Martin Heidegger. Marx builds on Rousseau by suggesting that both labour and capital can (and should) be thought of through the lenses of technology and prosthesis. Heidegger develops the question of ‘second nature’ in terms of the more fundamental question of Being; technology not only changes human nature but affects how humans are in the world. Specifically, Heidegger argues that technology transforms the world into a ‘standing reserve’.
The third part of the course builds on the work of Heidegger and the specific question of modernity by looking at the post-human/post modern work of Donna Haraway. Haraway takes seriously the possibility that the physis/techne and human/nature divides are untenable. Specifically, she suggests that neither the natural nor the human can stand outside techne. Like Cyborgs, humans are techne through and through. And to be human is to recognize the metaphysical emptiness of the term ‘natural’.