This course is open only to students enrolled in the Master PSTS. In case you, as a student from another master’s programme, want to participate in this course, please contact the PSTS staff: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
This course connects to the final qualifications K1, K2, K5, S1-4 of the programme, according to the following learning objectives:
At the end of the course the student has knowledge of and insight in:
- the history of philosophical anthropology
- classical views of philosophical anthropology and technology
- important approaches (both classical and contemporary) to technology
- theories that explain the influence of technology on human nature
- the discussion between bio conservatives and transhumanists
- different types of technical mediation and extension
Students will also have acquired and improved the following skills
- Reading skills: Understanding different academic ‘genres’
- Writing skills: Summarizing texts; developing outline, position and line of argument; providing peer reviews; writing academic papers
- Oral communication skills: Presenting an outline; formulating questions about a presentation
- Research skills: Position one’s work in the context of the existing literature; formulating research question
At the end of the course the student is able to:
- analyse and reproduce major topics, theories, developments and approaches in philosophical anthropology and their relevance for technology.
- discuss the merits and shortcomings of theories and ideas related to philosophical anthropology and technology and to compare and contrast different positions with each other.
- discuss his views with fellow students, write interpretative essays and present his views orally in class
- show satisfactory competence in writing a philosophical paper.
Philosophical anthropology is the discipline that critically reflects upon questions concerning human nature and the human condition. It addresses questions such as: What is a human being? What is (personal) identity? Which cultural and/or natural features constitute human nature? How is the human being different from (other) animals? These questions have been investigated within different frameworks, such as classical Ontology and Epistemology, Idealism and Phenomenology. In the twentieth century authors like Heidegger, Anders and Ellul have warned us for the negative and destructive influence of technology on our life. Authors like Plessner and Gehlen have, implicitly or explicitly, argued that technology plays an important role in the constitution of human nature and identity. According to them humans have always shaped and extended themselves by virtue of technical tools and artefacts. In our modern era technology has become not only an inherent part of scientific investigation and diagnosis but also a constitutive dimension of our culture. This has far reaching bearings on our human condition. Today most scholars in philosophy of technology have embraced the so-called “empirical turn” and focus not on “technology” but on different (emerging) technologies and their impact on society. We will, therefore, not only focus on classical approaches to technology but also on specific technologies and technological developments in an anthropological context.
In this course we will investigate how technology has influenced and constituted human nature and human existence. We will discuss 1) foundational perspectives in the history of philosophical anthropology; 2) classical views of philosophical anthropology and technology; 3) contemporary perspectives on philosophical anthropology and technology. In the last part of the course the focus will be especially on views that consider the human not as something that is found and pre-established but rather as something that is made and shaped. From that perspective human nature and its faculties (rationality, self-consciousness, agency, autonomy) are not considered as an a-historical given but as the result of a concrete history in which technology plays an important role.
The sessions will consist of both lectures and discussions. Attendance is obligatory
The assessment is based on a take-home exam and an essay, each contributing for 50% to the final grade. Note: each element has to be graded sufficient (i.e. 5.5 or more in order to complete the course successfully.