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Heideggerian epistemology and personalized technologies

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The paper examines the personalization of information technology from the p.c. onwards to the 3-D printing and mobile technologies in order to show that the current process of technological evolution puts the human personality in the centre of its functionality. This new centre opens the discussion about authenticity and in-authenticity of human Dasein, since the common element of these new technologies is that they employ faciality and personalization in a new condition of ready-to-hand and present-at-hand mode. By applying the Heideggerian modes of being on the process of personalization new forms of digital ethics appear. I suggest that the above take place in the navigation memory of the net, in the creativity of the self through the 3-D printer, and in the localization of the “psyche” in the hard drive disk. The paper defends the possibilities of an ethical, authentic and sheltering personalization, where human beings and information technology responsibly engage.

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  1. In his article Salem-Wiseman (1962, 537) underscores that: “despite the many “communitarian” readings of Being and Time, Heidegger’s Dasein is more accurately viewed as the philosophical precursor of the recent liberal conceptions of the self”.

  2. According to Carleton Christensen: “This one space and time is thus something which shows itself, albeit only ever partially, in and through individual entities, as the continuous background whole within the object of experience in the strict sense occurs. For Heidegger, what qualifies analogously as a form in not simply spatiotemporality, but worldliness; pace Kant, the world shoes itself, namely, as the continuous background whole as being within which individual entities themselves show themselves to us” (Christensen 2007, 162).

  3. RPG: Role-playing Game.

  4. “Information ethics understood in the narrower sense deals with ethical questions related to the internet” (Capurro 2006, 176).

  5. “That with which our everyday dealings proximally dwell is not the tools themselves [die Werkzeuge selbst]. On the contrary, that with which we concern ourselves primarily is the work -that which is to be produced at the time; and this is accordingly ready-to-hand too” (Heidegger 1962, 99).

  6. “Theoretical behavior is just looking, without circumspection. But the fact that this looking is non-circumspective does not mean that is follows no rules: it constructs a canon for itself in the form of method” (Heidegger 1962, 99).

  7. One has to make clear that the digital trend of our time differs radically from the older forms that Heidegger criticizes in technology. Forms of heavy industrialized exploitation that still exist and apply in most parts of the world, in one way or the other, with devastating results. Heidegger’s attempt to criticize technology develops both in an anthropological and a social level. This functional paradox is the “politics of technology”. It is interesting though that Heidegger himself, even from Being and Time, draws a line of hermeneutic understanding that can be seen as the progenitor of what followed in his critique on technology. The way nature’s worldhoood takes different material formations is discussed in ¶70: “The wood is a forest of timber, the mountain a quarry of rock; the river is water-power, the wind is wind “in the sails” (Heidegger 1962, 100).

  8. The lectures of Foucault regarding the ethics of a “Care of the Self” in the Greek-Roman subject make clear that there is an evolution of ethical development in the human history, that always combines the material (technical) conditions with the care and the formation (immaterial) of the Self. The navigation history plays the same role with self-writing and self-analysis in the ancient world: “Writing was also important in the culture of the care of the Self…Seneca’s letters are an example of this self-exercise” (Foucault 1997, 232).

  9. In his article “Heidegger’s Romantic Personalism” Benjamin Crowes suggests that in Heidegger “the role of the “personal” in the renewal of life is repeatedly emphasized. This means that the “ownmost existence” of individuals is the engine that drives genuine social and cultural regeneration, and that the attainment of “inner wakefulness” or “inner truthfulness” holds the key to success in this regard” (Crowes 2005, 166).

  10. According to Christian Ciocan, Heidegger “‘extracts’ a structure of Dasein from the rut of common understanding and projects it into an ontological dimension. Thus, we are told, first of all, that Dasein does not “have” a space but, in an essential way, “is” spatial. Also, it does not “have” a time, as a property of Being, but “is” itself temporal, which is to say it exists starting from a temporal grounding of its Being” (Ciocan 2008, 77).

  11. Cyber navigation.

  12. E.g., navigation history.

  13. In his study Existential Foundations of Medicine and Psychology (1979), psychoanalytic psychiatrist Medard Boss criticizes the Cartesian basis upon which both medicine and psychology operate. Boss’s Daseinanalysis i.e., an existential method of psychoanalysis based on Heidegger’s Analytik der Dasein, proposes that a person’s engaging relations, described within the tradition of the body/soul split where psyche serves as an internal administration of the Self, should instead be analyzed through Daseinanalysis: “the condition of such existence is an open, free, clear realm in which the human Da-sein can dwell, spanning and maintaining it in its own way. Such a realm is possible only there, where it is released from hiddenness and darkness. Neither the clearing nor the hiddenness originates in concrete things, human beings, or in the psyche” (Boss 1979, 142).

  14. In the first division of Being and Time Heidegger repeatedly rejects the idea of an internal spiritual space within the self that can be measured according to the Cartesian dualism of body and soul (Heidegger 1962, §56). Nevertheless, in the course of the book, in the second division he admits that “spatiality seems to make up another basic attribute of Dasein corresponding to temporality” (ibid., §367), without following the Cartesian view. According to Stuart Elden in the Sophist, Heidegger “contends that “place is the limit (Grenze) of the periekon, that which delimits (umgrenzt) a body, not the limit of the body itself, but that which the limit of the body comes up against, in such a way, specifically, that there is between these two limits no interspace, no diastema” (Elden 2001, 316). One can see that both in early and later Heidegger, spatiality describes the delimitation of the open to itself. In “Why Poets?,” we read that “the open is the great entirety of all that is unbarred” (Heidegger 2002, 213). At a time where technology re-arranges our spatial experience and activity through internetization one can claim that being spatially unbarred and delimited is the main characteristic of personalized technology.

  15. Heidegger is using the term “world” without quotation marks whenever he refers to the world as an “ontologico-existential concept of worldhood” (Heidegger 1962, 93). We also find “world” within brackets, as a “pre-ontological existentiell signification… “world” may stand for the public we-world, or one’s closest (domestic) environment” (ibid.). Finally, there is ‘world’ with a single quotation marks that “is used as an ontical concept, and signifies the totality of those entities which can be present-at-hand within the world” (ibid.).

  16. ibid.


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Correspondence to Theodore Kabouridis.

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The use of the term “Heideggerian Epistemology” refers to the argumentative differentiation through which the German philosopher criticized on the one hand traditional dualistic epistemology, whereas on the other arrived at the ontology of human Dasein.

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Kabouridis, T. Heideggerian epistemology and personalized technologies. Ethics Inf Technol 17, 139–151 (2015).

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