Being in the world! Report from the Continental Philosophy of Technoscience course

Juliana Michelon Alvarenga

I need the light of the sun to see the being in the world! But “the being” is “the whole of being”, and I am included in it. Afterall, being in the world is the relational process that reveals itself – the perceived, the perceiver, and the light of the sun. All a mode of accessing reality.

Somewhere along these lines, Professor Vincent Blok launched the 2023 Continental Philosophy of Technoscience course that took place at the University of Wageningen in late March this year. Surrounded by a peaceful campus atmosphere, PhD students from all walks of life befriended one another as they gathered for a week to discuss some of today’s most profound questions in science and technology. Inspired by thinkers such as Heidegger, Bachelard, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Stiegler, and Simondon, a team of exceptional European scholars delivered their lectures on contemporary reflections of human-technology-world relations.

As suggested, Heidegger took central stage in the paradigmatic shift to a process and relational perspective that has been shaping the philosophical thinking of our time. It is true that earlier thinkers such as Durkheim, Spencer, and Whitehead arrived there first, but Heidegger seems to be the one who shook the space of intellect in the twentieth century to help us recognize the new era where there is no longer a subject in front of an object but a relational and mutually constitutive technological order where humans are involved in the process of becoming.

The group discussed a broad spectrum of problematic issues in technoscience: from how algorithmic regulation controls and nudges human behavior in the direction of addictive cycles of consumption to how moral agency as something intrinsically mediated by technologies when they help shape moral actions and decisions. The encounter was no short of plural perspectives, assertive arguments, and emotionally charged calls for caution in our thinking: “Who is this we that we keep talking about?” – shouted one of the students. A few days later, another student could not make peace with the implication that we should. “Why this normative philosophy?”

The short stay in Wageningen was stimulating, uplifting, and inspiring, much like the colors and textures of the blooming trees of early spring.

Being in the world! Report from the Continental Philosophy of Technoscience course
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