Philosophies of Life Technologies



This course presents a distinct view of technology and technological change. As we situate technology within various philosophies of the event we learn to appreciate a whole range of life techniques for ethical – good – living in the event of technology. This course gives a solid introduction into the philosophy of Ereignis. The course is designed for anyone interested in ethics, philosophy of technology, contemporary psychoanalysis, or cultural analysis.

This course seeks to

  • Present a distinct view of technology and technological change;
  • Situate technology within various philosophies of the event;
  • Suggest a series of life techniques for ethical — good — living in the event of technology.

Students who register for this course get:

  • 12 video-taped lectures, with a total running time of 210 minutes;
  • An indicative reading list;
  • A set of optional tasks to check your learning;
  • Course diploma (beta version).
  • Interest in philosophy, ethics, or cultural analysis.
  • Anyone interested in ethics, philosophy of technology, contemporary psychoanalysis, or cultural analysis;
  • Some previous knowledge of European philosophy an advantage, but not required.

Curriculum

In the first section we become familiar with some key contemporary approaches to technology, as well as becoming acquainted with the course as a whole. The purpose is to get a rough idea of some quite distinct philosophies of technology and to equip ourselves with the apparatus necessary to understand what we mean by life techniques and to make them our own.

Lecture 1: Introduction: The event of the good life (18 mins)

We begin by situating our course in the philosophical tradition and within the philosophy of technology. One key assumption in this course is that a technical approach cannot elide issues of ethics, politics, or debate. Instead we take the view that technology is an event that is both external and inherent to the human subject. How can we ground a thinking about technology as event to specific techniques that enable the good life?

Lecture 2: Geert Lovink (13 mins)

In this lecture we discuss Geert Lovink’s approach to technology. In his view we have reached an impasse where we no longer believe in a simple emancipatory potential of the internet. What are some pitfalls, and what is the way out of our current situation?

Lecture 3: Martin Heidegger (14 mins)

Martin Heidegger had a distinct view on technology. Here we discuss what he saw as the danger of our technological epoch, and how we can allow things to appear as they truly are.

Lecture 4: Wolfgang Schirmacher (17 mins)

To Wolfgang Schirmacher our view on technology is best referred to as an “instrumental prejudice.” Instead of this destructive, survival-oriented approach he holds out a technique that allows things to appear “in a sudden glimpse and yet as if eternally.”

What does the concept of event mean? The second section presents three philosophical perspectives on this notion, and shows how they make different kinds of sense in the context of technology.

Lecture 5: The event in Heidegger (12 mins)

In this lecture we discuss further what Martin Heidegger meant by the term Ereignis: event, appropriation, articulation. As a poetic and artistic happening it was an event that provided a path back to a sacred place. To Heidegger the Ereignis referred to the bringing of Being into its own.

Lecture 6: The event in Schirmacher (8 mins)

Wolfgang Schirmacher holds that technology should rather be seen as an event than an epoch, as Heidegger preferred. This technological event is comic in character, and it includes all manner of human activity, from our first breath to our tinkering with the atoms. Technologies happen, and they provide us with ways to experience truth.

Lecture 7: The event in Badiou (21 mins)

To Alain Badiou it is philosophy that provides this kind of event that through silence can touch the most mystical truths. The life of the philosopher can provide us with ways to live beautifully and gracefully, and it is through such a "way of living" that we can enable the presence of the unsayable core of our existence.

The third section explains a set of specific life techniques, all with reference to the philosophies of technology and our different approaches to events in the previous lectures. The purpose here is to gain a more profound understanding of how distinct philosophies of technology can serve to ground concrete and affirmative techniques that enable us to live a good life.

Lecture 8: Life techniques: Naturalisation (14 mins)

Naturalisation refers social or cultural practices to nature, and by the same token normalises them. The effect of this is to place our social configuration beyond human undoing, to remove it from perspectives that take absolutism or "naturalist essentialism" as their ground.

Lecture 9: Life techniques: Homo Generator (12 mins)

Homo Generator is a figure that provides us with a generative approach to the good life in a post-modern, mediated world. This is a figure that enjoys life without knowing why, and who act without believing in the principles behind our actions. Homo Generator provides a formula to operate invisible to our censor, and beyond good and evil.

Lecture 10: Life techniques: Concealment (11 mins)

Concealment is a technique that enable us to transport between profound, existential happenings of truth-events and our everyday lives. Our most revelatory moments are essentially ethical openings that stick out from the ordinary. In order to carry on living sanely these moments should be carefully concealed. By covering them over we can continue our lives in silent preparation.

Lecture 11: Life techniques: Praising and the affirmative (12 mins)

Praising, or glorification, prepares the ground for an event that is prior to knowledge and ethics, and this is the event of what the ancient philosopher Heraclitus called the originating flash or lightning of insight. The technique of praising can aid us in experiencing this ground of knowledge. By passively resting and glorifying we can approximate truth and the good life.

Lecture 12: Summary: The inhabitable event of technology (16 mins)

In our concluding remarks we ask how we can make the event of technology inhabitable. Can we be released from a situation where we are in danger of letting technologies become our masters, and instead find a new beginning, a beautiful, graceful life where we come closer to the hidden, cosmic truths of our being?

Additional materials

Download the reading list.

Download the assignment sheet.

Instructor: Torgeir Fjeld

Dr. Torgeir Fjeld is Head of the Ereignis Center for Philosophy and the Arts, Publisher at Tankebanen forlag/utopos, and Editor-in-Chief of Inscriptions. He has taught at several world-class universities, including the University of Minnesota, Roehampton University, and the University of Gdańsk. Fjeld is the author of Rock Philosophy, Perversion’s Beyond, dressage and illusio, and many articles on technology, presencing, and the event of salvation.

Title: Philosophies of Life Technologies

Series: Ereignis Institute Course Module online series, no. 1

Instructor: Dr. Torgeir Fjeld

First published: 1 March, 2021

Current version: 1.2, released 9 July, 2022

Publisher: Tankebanen forlag on behalf of Ereignis Center for Philosophy and the Arts / Ereignis Institute.

Copyright notice: © Tankebanen forlag and the instructor, 2021-2022.

All rights reserved. This material is for private use. It may not in whole or in parts be distributed or reproduced without written consent from the instructor and publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review or journal. By accessing our materials you agree to our terms.

ISBN: 978-82-93659-31-0