IAS Fellows’ Seminar – Analog to Digital and the Loss of Resonance: humans and technology from the perspective of philosophical anthropology
February 27 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
IAS Fellows’ Seminar by Professor Robert Hassan, University of Melbourne
The paper considers the human relationship with technology in the wake of the present domination by digital forms. It argues that too little attention has been given to the nature and logic of digital; and that the substantial differences between digital and analog forms give rise to concern over what domination by digital actually means. Does digital mean ‘progress’ or ‘better’, or just different? Or something much more malign? Drawing from philosophical anthropology and the writings of Arnold Gehlen in particular, the paper explores the idea that the eclipsing of analog technology as the leading form has meant a diminishment in our understanding of ourselves as essentially technological creatures and, crucially, a diminishment in our relationship to nature. The paper argues, in essence, that we humans are analog beings who since the dawn of our species have created technologies that are analog of our physical and cognitive capacities, and which had ‘resonance’ with our action upon the world, and which were ‘recognisable’ to us in their cause and effect in time and space. Analog technologies, from the simple flint knife to the lunar landing craft of Apollo 11 that landed on the Sea of Tranquillity in 1969, existed upon an arc of potential in the development of technology, whereby in the words of Marshal McLuhan, ‘we shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us’. Within what I term ‘digitality’ this dialectic no longer applies. In the too rapid and unreflective creation of digitality we exist as analog beings in a digital world. An analog ‘worked’ for us because it reflected our species’ physical and cognitive capacities. Digital has never worked for us. It functions to shape a world of increasingly networked, yet autonomous processes derived from a digitality whose inner essence has always been to eliminate human involvement from its increasingly instrumental logic.
Places are limited and so any academic colleagues or students interested in attending in person should register here.