Course: On origins, nature and technology, University of Bergen, Norway, March 2015.
Course 1) From « origin » to « nature »
Course 2) From « nature » to « culture »
Course 3) From « culture » to « technology »
We will begin our investigation by the examination of the concept of « origin ». The concept will be analyzed in an historical manner, i. e. through an inventory of actual signs of interest for origins that can be found in the discourses that have been devoted to origins: « discourses on origins ». We will show that the discourses on origins have always been associated and even tightly intertwined with discourses on nature.
The notion of « nature », in turn, has been, since a long time, opposed to the notion of « culture » and we will analyse this opposition. Following the history of western civilisation we will show that the notion of culture has played an essential role, at the very core of anthropology, in the shaping of the discipline since its birth at the end of the XIXth century. We will follow the transformation of the problematic of « nature » into a problematic of « culture ».
Finally, we will examine how a particular culture (namely, the western culture) did develop skills allowing to transform nature. Those skills are nowadays generally grouped under the term of « technology ». Technology have invading properties that have warned some philosophers due to their irreversible consequences. Other philosophers, such as transhumanists philosophers, claim, on the contrary, that these transformations are unavoidable and should thus be anticipated. Taking the view of speculative realism, a recently appeared ontological trend, we will propose a critical analysis of these interpretations of technology showing that neither fear nor unrealistic hope are justified. An affective ontology will be proposed that allows to overcome the apparently contradictory tendencies of interpretation developed by philosophy of technology.
Book to read:
Ph Descola, Beyond nature and culture, translated by Janet Lloyd, foreword by Marshall Sahlins, The University of Chicago Press, 2003.