Heideggarian Philosophy of Science & Technology

Dec 13, 2011 by Troy Doucet

As I was initially interested in analyzing Heidegger’s philosophy of science with regards to the debate on values our discussions never lent themselves to a phenomenological approach to the question of science & values- particular the value of human freedom.  I hope to eventually give more time to this subject in later courses of my doctoral program.  In the mean time I thought I’d use the blog as a way to articulate my interest- and get a point in doing so!

In the Essence of Human Freedom Heidegger states “the particular is always particularity of one thing, namely of the universal contained within it, and the universal is always the universality of the particulars determined by it.  We must therefore always look to the particular if we wish to discover the universal.”[1] While the context of this quote obviously deals with the essence of human freedom we need not rule out the ontological investigation of how technology, as a particular, does in fact contain a universality with regards to diminishing human freedom through the creation of dependence; an emerging issue that Heidegger was somewhat prophetic and extremely concerned about.

By taking a disclosive look through contemplating technology’s essence we will undoubtedly discover that Heidegger was correct in stating that one’s approach to technology should never be neutral.  Heidegger’s main concern was that man was “un-free and chained to technology” and “that we are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard [technology] as something neutral.”[2]

In other words, when technology is relied upon in this way man no longer can view the essence of technology; it becomes itself a ‘first philosophy’.  This becomes dangerous to man’s freedom, in that freedom refers to man’s autonomy.  We are not really in danger of losing our lives, per se- but rather, our freedom to authentically live.  Heidegger goes on to say “the essence of freedom is independence, the absence of dependence, involves the denial of dependence on something else.”[3]

A simple way of evaluating this problem is that if man is not able to see technology’s true essence as that of restricting freedom by its creating dependence, then man in turn, is in danger of losing his freedom since he is either unwilling or unable to suspect technology in this regard.

My plan is to ontologically evaluate the essence of technology as creating human dependency through the lens of Heidegger’s insight on the value of human freedom and conclude with how science and technology can be an ontological tool of artistic expression creating authenticity of being.

[1] Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Human Freedom (London: Continuum, 2005), 3.

[2] Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1993), 311-312.

[3] Martin Heidegger, The Essence of Human Freedom (London: Continuum, 2005), 5.