Excarnation: A Phenomenology of Technology and Religious Experience

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2019-08

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Abstract

This work explores the contours of technology and its philosophical relationship to ethics and responsibility from a phenomenological perspective. It suggests that technology, understood in a Heideggerian sense, carries within its essence the propensity to relegate and conceal our primordial sense of ethics as being-responsible to and for the other. This mode of ethics roots itself deeply within an embodied, incarnate existence and being-in-the-world. However, the argument being made in this work contends that, from Heidegger’s work, the proliferation of technological thinking—as a dominant Western philosophical tradition—challenges our notions of embodied responsibility—not only of ethics, but of being itself. Any originary meaning of being-ethical becomes en-framed within disembodiment and comes to manifest primarily in the mere intellectual ascension of forming beliefs –that is, Cartesian metaphysics. The initial arc of this work will be to properly re-frame technology within its original Pre-Socratic Greek origins in order to problematize the common misunderstandings of technology as a mode of human inventiveness that ultimately grounds rationality as the quintessential human ability. This approach is unique insofar as it seeks to offer an original hermeneutical approach to the question of technology and its relationship to ethics, particularly in terms of religious experience. To do so, this paper will initially engage in a close hermeneutical reading of the PreSocratic philosophers (i.e. Sophocles, Thucydides, etc.) in order to properly situate the origin (arche) of technology (techne) within a pre-metaphysical grounding as a mode of revealing (aletheia). Tracing the continued philosophical dis-placement of techne’s mode of revealing (e.g. truth-ing the truth of being) that originates primarily in the thought of Plato and Aristotle, techne ultimately gives rise to a dominance of Cartesian metaphysics within the Western philosophical tradition and literary canon. When we encounter the event of the death of god in Nietzsche’s thought, followed by the reconstitution of the fundamental question of being (Dasein) in Martin Heidegger’s phenomenology, only then is being able to disclose techne’s originary manifest-ness as a mode of revealing the truth of being, un-tethered from its metaphysical imposition upon being and its presuppositionalist posture toward philosophical inquiry. In Nietzsche’s work, there is the confrontation with the event of the death of god in order that we may return once again to that former encounter with the essential ground of the human condition that is found in Greek tragedy. For Nietzsche, the meaning of ethics, or the ethicality of ethics, is not brought about by our ability to rationalize, calculate, theorize or universalize particular notions of good and evil. Rather, authentic morality brings about an event – the death of god – in order that a visceral, incarnate and embodied life might be once again affirmed in being itself. Heidegger also comes to view such theoretical or scientific approaches to ‘truth’, regarding one’s own subjective rationalization in isolation, to be a manifest mode of technological thinking—that is, metaphysics.

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Phenomenological theology, Religion—Philosophy, Technology—Philosophy, Technology—Religious aspects, Technology—Moral and ethical aspects

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©2019 Troy Anthony Doucet. All Rights Reserved.

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