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Foundations of Science

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 471–494 | Cite as

Notes on a Nonfoundational Phenomenology of Technology

Article

Abstract

The emerging school of thought called “postphenomenology” offers a distinct understanding of the ways that people experience technology usage. This perspective combines insights from the philosophical tradition of phenomenology with commitments to the anti-essentialism and nonfoundationalism of American pragmatism. One of postphenomenology’s central positions is that technologies always remain “multistable,” i.e., subject to different uses and meanings. But I suggest that as this perspective matures, philosophical problems are emerging around the notion of multistability, what I call “the problem of invariance” and “the problem of grounding.” These problems point out things that remain unclear within the postphenomenological framework, such as how it handles structural claims regarding a technology’s various stabilities, and how it grounds its claims. How can postphenomenology make structural claims about technology and yet remain anti-essentializing? And on what epistemological basis does it ground its claims about human-technology relations? The paper concludes with a series of prescriptions that, if followed, enable postphenomenology to make edifying claims about technology, all while avoiding the problems of invariance and grounding, and maintaining its commitments to anti-essentialism and nonfoundationalism.

Keywords

Postphenomenology Pragmatism Nonfoundationalism Multistability Philosophy of technology 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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