Manusya, Journal of Humanities


Michael Kelly

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I want in this essay to change the way we approach the promise of technology. In bringing out the philosophical substance packed into the highly critical diagnostic portion of Virilio's work, I focus on Virilio's observations concerning the human psychological relation to technology. I argue that a form of resentment similar to that found in Nietzsche's genealogy of morals provides the motivating factor in the push for continual and increasingly rapid technological innovation: technological drive follows from fallen man's desire to reconcile his mortality. Understanding this drive brings home the direness of the human condition that makes technological resistance so difficult. Given this conundrum, we must articulate an ethic of technological modesty. An ethic of technological modesty encourages (1) the resistance of capricious urges for technological satisfaction and (2) the subjection of technologies to a rigorous phenomenological investigation that weighs their potential benefits and reduction, as well as the conditions that might precipitate and exacerbate these benefits or reductions. This ethical plan pushes Virilio's phenomenology of the "accident' of technology, and comes in the phenomenological/pragmatic tradition of Hans Jonas' imperative of responsibility and Don Ihde's phenomenological investigation of the dimensions of technology that amplify and reduce natural human capacities.

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