Admission to one of the following programmes is required:
MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Modern European Philosophy
MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Humanities
This course will engage in a "history of the present" by examining the effects of technology on the current understanding of what human existence means. The course will tackle with technology as a philosophical problem by showing how contemporary technologies and especially computational technologies invite to develop the very definition of what technology means (instrumentality, environmentality, artificial life). It will also show how philosophy has had to evolve in order to respond to these evolutions.
The course will pay particular attention to the evolution of the notion of humanity that has evolved from a competent user of technical objects towards a being determined by its technological environment and finally into a being who is an explicit object of anthropotechnics. We will start by examining the idea advanced by certain post- and transhumanists according to which progress in technology, especially information and biotechnology, is about to lead to an overcoming of humanity. We will show why authors such as Plessner, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida, Agamben, Stiegler, Hayles, Sloterdijk, Hui would not agree with this idea, and examine their different ways of analysing the the intertwining of the ideas of humanity and technics.
This course aims to present and critically discuss contemporary philosophical conceptions of humanity, technics, and anthropotechnics. The students will read, discuss and analyse key texts from Plessner, Heidegger, Foucault, Stiegler, Derrida, Agamben, Haraway, Braidotti, Hayles, and others. In the written assignations, they will be expeted to 1) show ability to make a critical close reading of one or two of the assigned texts and 2) develop this reading into an essay that discusses the chosen author(s) in the light of a personal research question that reflects contemporary life.
Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:
- contemporary philosophical conceptions of humanity, technics, and anthropotechnics.
Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:
analyse the contemporary existential and societal consequences of the changing technological situation by means of philosophy;
write a philosophical paper that shows how a contemporary author addresses the question of technology.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
The sessions will take the form of lectures by the instructor and seminar discussions of key texts. Class attendance is required.
- Final essay
Non-graded mid-term take-home exercise: research project in preparation of the final essay.
Final essay (100%)
The resit consists of a paper and counts as 100% of the grade, overwriting all previous graded exam components. Class participation is required for taking the resit.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.
Inspection and feedback
Discussion of the paper is by appointment after publication of the final grade.
Extracts from Ranish and Sorgner (eds): Post- and Transhumanism: an Introduction (introduction).
Extracts from N. Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman.
Extracts from Helmuth Plessner, Levels of Organic Life and the Human. An Introduction to Philosophical Anthropology. (Die Stufen des Organischen und der Mensch. Einleitung in die philosophische Anthropologie).
Extracts from Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (Sein und Zeit) (§§ 15-16).
Martin Heidegger, "The Question concerning Technology" ("Die Frage nach der Technik", in Vorträge und Aufsätze).
Extracts from Jacques Derrida, "Plato's Pharmacy", in Dissemination ("La pharmacie de Platon", dans Dissémination).
Extracts from Foucault: The History of Sexuality vol 1: The Will to Knowledge (Penguin Press, 1998) (Histoire de la sexualité tome 1: La volonté de savoir (Gallimard 1994)).
Michel Foucault: ("Technologies of the Self", in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. ("Les technologies du soi", in Dits et écrits).
Donna Haraway: “A Cyborg Manifesto. Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 80’s”. In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: the Reinvention of Nature.
Extracts from Stiegler: Technics and Time: The Fault of Epimetheus (Stanford UP 1998) (La technique et le temps 1: La faute d'Épiméthée (Galilée 1994)).
Jacques Derrida & Bernard Stiegler, Echographies of Television (Échographies de la télévision).
Extracts from Peter Sloterdijk, "Rules for a Human Park" (Regeln für den Menschenpark. Ein Antwortschreiben zu Heideggers Brief über den Humanismus), or You must change your life (Du Musst dein Leben ändern).
Arthur Bradley, Originary Technicity. The Theory of Technology from Marx to Derrida. (New York: Palgrave, 2011).
Jean-Luc Nancy, The Intruder, in Corpus. (L'Intrus.)
Extracts from Giorgio Agamben: The Use of Bodies (L'uso dei corpi).
Extracts from N. Katherine Hayles. Unthought. The Power of Cognitive Nonconscious.
Enrolment through MyStudymap is mandatory.
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga