Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Heidegger on Technology

2019.06.14 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews Aaron James Wendland, Chistopher Merwin, and Christos Hadjioannou (eds.), Heidegger on Technology, Routledge, 2019, 345pp., $150.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781138674615. Reviewed by David R. Cerbone, West Virginia University This volume comprises seventeen original papers by sixteen contributors (Aaron James Wendland, contributed two). As is to be expected, Heidegger's seminal essay, "The Question Concerning Technology" (hereafter QCT),[1] first published in 1954, serves as a touchstone for the volume, with many contributors dutifully rehearsing often overlapping interpretations of the constellation of key concepts Heidegger deploys there and in neighboring writings: Bestand (rendered as "standing-reserve" in William Lovitt's translation, but perhaps more perspicuously translated as simply "resource" or, as Mark A. Wrathall renders it, "stock" in the sense of the goods on hand); Gestell (for which Lovitt provides "enframing," but which could be rendered as "framework," or, as Wrathall suggests, "inventory," thereby complementing his... Read [More]

Human Nature and Human Enhancement: Some Quick Thoughts

[This is a slightly expanded version of a talk I gave at the SIENNA workshop on the ethics of human enhancement in Uppsala, Sweden on the 13th June 2019. The talk was intended to be a provocation rather than a comprehensively reasoned argument.]I've been asked to say a few words about the challenges that emerging enhancement technologies might pose for how we define human nature (with a nod towards how this might also interact with the 'dual use' nature of technology). I didn't say this to the organisers when they asked me, but this is a difficult topic for me to talk about. That's because I am a sceptic of human nature. I tend to agree with Allen Buchanan (2009; 2011) that discussions of 'human nature' in the enhancement debate tend to obscure more than they clarify. This is because the term 'human nature' usually functions as a proxy for something else that people care about. My feeling is that people should talk about that something else instead, and not about human nature. That said I'm clearly in a minority in taking this sceptical view. People are hungry for discussions of human nature. The library shelves groan under the weight of scholarly volumes dedicated to the topic. Just to illustrate, there was a book I read many years ago as a student by Leslie Stevenson called Seven Theories of Human Nature. It was first published in 1987. In 2017, they published the seventh edition of the book, now titled Thirteen Theories of Human Nature - apparently [More]