The Camden Philosophical Society meets on the third Tuesday of each month for reading and discussion. Read below to learn about the topic for the meeting on June 20. If you wish to participate via Zoom, please email email@example.com. You will receive a Zoom invitation on the morning of the meeting, Click on the “Join Zoom Meeting” link in that invitation at the time of the event.
Our culture is enamored of numbers. Stick a number into almost any statement, and people are more inclined to believe it. Claim the number was generated by a computer model, and its credibility rises further — even if the number came from a model using inputs that were little more than wild guesses. Mid-20th Century German philosopher `Martin Heidegger had a name for this numeric fixation: Technological thinking.
The Camden Philosophical Society will be discussing Heidegger’s analysis of such thinking and its implications at its regular third-Tuesday-of-the-month gathering – on June 20, from 3:30-5:30 pm. All are welcome to participate in this hybrid session, in-person at the Picker Room of the Camden Public Library or by Zoom. If you wish to participate via Zoom, please let us know by return email (Reply All). You will receive a Zoom invitation on the morning of the meeting, Click on the “Join Zoom Meeting” link in that invitation at the time of the event.
When Heidegger called our industrial-era way of seeing the world “enframement” of technological thinking, he wasn’t talking about particular technologies. He was talking about the way people in our era have come to perceive the world as “standing reserve,” a storehouse of quantifiable resources whose sole purpose is to be available for human exploitation. Seeing beyond that frame — or outside the box, to use a more common term — is difficult, if not impossible, as Heidegger explains it.
In one of his later works, an essay on “The Question Concerning Technology,” Heidegger argues that humans are themselves as trapped as the rest of nature in this “way of representing” — in their susceptibility to being counted as well as doing the counting. This “technological way of thinking” is almost inescapable in the modern world, Heidegger suggests, although he goes on in this work and others to suggest that art – both visual arts and poetry — can help us loosen the grip of such enframement.
His favorite poet, Friedrich Holderlin, guides Heidegger to a conclusion that seems vital in this time of extreme danger for the Earth and all humanity:
But where danger is, grows
the saving power also.
The Question Concerning Technology and other late writings of Heidegger are available online for free here: https://www.philtech.michaelreno.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/HeideggerTheQuestionConcerningTechnology.pdf The discussion will center on the essay that forms the first 36 pages of the book.