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Reinhabiting technology: ends in means and the practice of place


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Davison, A (2004) Reinhabiting technology: ends in means and the practice of place. Technology in Society, 26 (1). pp. 85-97. ISSN 0160-791X

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A lack of awareness of the ways we inhabit, and not just merely use, technology has greatly limited our capacity to understand the ways in which reason and practice structure each other. In exploring the interplay of rationality and experience in this paper, then, I resist the representation of artefacts as mere tools or autonomous tyrants, arguing instead that technological, conceptual, and moral changes are webbed together in everyday practices. Influential explanations of practical reason such as Pierre Bourdieu's analysis of habitus are vital in developing such a relational understanding of technology. We shall see, however, that even such excellent accounts of mind's embodiment in social space seem unaware of the irony that the dominance of the ideal of transcendent reason is no longer maintained by the work of theorists. Rather, it is maintained by a specific condition of practice; namely, the new technological capacity to dissociate ends and means. The 'foreground of ends' is organised by the freedoms of individual self-creation through consumption. Yet in the 'background of means' that sustains this world of private choice social structures become objective 'facts' beyond rational negotiation. The reciprocity of self and world required for genuine inhabitation of ecological and social places is lost. Any recovery of this reciprocity thus demands that decisions about technology be recognised as nothing less than political and moral, i.e., rational, deliberations about what kinds of humanity we want to build and inhabit.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: habitus, environment, epistemology, philosophy of technology, sense of place
Journal or Publication Title: Technology in Society
Page Range: pp. 85-97
ISSN: 0160-791X
Identification Number - DOI: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2003.10.007
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2007
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 03:20
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