From Husserl to Ihde and Beyond - Some Evolutionary Lines in Contemporary Philosophy of Technology
38 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2012 Last revised: 28 Sep 2017
Date Written: September 28, 2011
My paper is the introduction to my next book in the series 'The humanist as Engineer'. In my work, I have been deeply influenced by Don Ihde and his postphenomenological approach to the philosophy of technology. As Ihde’s postphenomenology, my approach is historical and differs strongly from the 'pure' phenomenological approach in spite of being connected with it through many common references. Instead of this, I have chosen to move freely between the ideas arising after Kant, Hegel and Marx and I do not hesitate to make references to both Modern Art and Psychoanalysis. I understand that in the history of thought there have been paradigmatic problems and frontiers that characterised a period of time which can be considered as schools or traditions; however, these collapsed with the detonation of Postmodernism and Postphenomenology. In this frame, nobody lives up to this philosophical bricolage as Don Ihde and his postphenomenological project does. Don Ihde’s work is an example of the fertility of postmodern accounts especially when it is the consequence of a well-balanced administration of the eclectic elements within the project. There are certainly many similarities in Ihde’s and my own approach, and I will try to show some of those. I could remit myself to Albert Borgmann’ words when he wrote, 'the multiplicity of perspectives of Don Ihde’s work is essential for my own work and if I do not call my approach as 'postphenomenological' is only because I do not want to force my own views in his outstanding project.'
Postmodernism has left behind lots of scattered modernist philosophical remnants. It left a chessboard with only few pieces to work with, and in this allegory, only as references. The philosophical schools remains, but the study of them is strictly for an education in the history of ideas. The situation is aggravating since the most important works from the 1960’s and forth, deliberately have avoided obvious identity patterns. A word in Rio de la Plata’s jargon language describes this situation, cambalache, a sort of 'flea market' where everything lies higgledy-piggledy.
Deconstruction and the focus on differences are central to Postmodernism. Remaining is therefore the intersections, the contrasts, shadows, and sketches. When trying to orient in such an intellectual environment, the task reminds of patching scatterings, and building with tools of eclecticism. Not long ago, you could develop a problem from Marx as well as from Husserl. However, today it is necessary to build upon that which makes both Marx and Husserl jigsaw pieces in a totality – characterized by its lack of focus. This situation has also resulted in a demand, greater than ever, for competence in the field of history of ideas.
In this article I suggest an eclectic philosophical tool which is centered on the idea of a historical phenomenology, understood as a bricolage of approaches which connect the ideological criticism of Kant with a philosophy of praxis in Marx, to a phenomenology of essences in Husserl and another of perceptions in Merleau-Ponty and to Heidegger’s anthropology. An eclectic background to phenomenology was anticipated by Merleau-Ponty when he wrote that phenomenology 'can be practiced and identified as a manner or style of thinking that existed as a movement before arriving at complete awareness of itself as a philosophy. It has been long on the way, and its adherents have discovered it in every quarter, certainly in Hegel and Kierkegaard, but equally in Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.'
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