Is Knowledge Acquired by Thinking or Doing?
Some aspects of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy resonate strongly with an engineering outlook. He argued that practice was more ‘primordial’ than theory, though preserving an important role for theoretical understanding as well, thus speaking to the gap between engineering education (highly theoretical) and engineering practice (mostly empirical). He also underlined the reality of ‘average’ practices into which we are socialized, though affirming the potential for original work and action too, thus providing the grounds for self-actualization whether within the routine or in transcending it. His notion of ‘thrownness’ emphasizes the importance of context, with which engineers are constantly engaged. While all this relates to the idea of our ‘being’, Heidegger also dealt with the influence of time on our practices. Future death could be seen as spurring innovation, cultural history as a source for critiquing current practice, and the present ‘situation’ as the immediate context for corrective or opportunistic action.
KeywordsPractice ‘Everydayness’ Breakdowns Context Temporality Authenticity
Adapted by permission from Springer Nature Customer Service Centre GmbH: Springer Nature: Science and Engineering Ethics, 12(3), 523–532: Heidegger’s resonance with engineering: the primacy of practice, by W. P. S. Dias, 2006.
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