Reading Ihde’s Expanding Hermeneutics took a while


But this is what I think…

First let me talk about technology and the body. I have been thinking a lot about technology, tools, and instruments. There is an analysis Ihde does around technology and the body. Analytic philosophers make the body flexible, but continental philosophers are more firm about embodiment.

This made me think about what is the relationship between technology and the body. There are two movements the first is (I+technology)-> world. The i is bound up with technology like a telescope – the body is expanded by technology. Then there is the I-> (technology+world) where the world is created by the technology – such as with digital imaging or computer modeling.

But what is technology and how does it become core to thinking to metaphysics and ontology? What has changed with technology?

So here is my thought for the day. Technology creates bodies. Exercise technology or cooking or yoga or eye glasses. This is not that bodies are cyborgs (that may or may not be the case), but technologies shape bodies. Bodies become embodied through technology. That is how technology is world building.

We have the original mythos of metamorphosis – that bodies change. However in mythologies of metamorphosis, bodies do not change through praxis. They change through luck or magic. The truth of this myth is that bodies change through technology which is not necessarily technological but praxis and methodological. This begs the question – what is technology – but another time.

So this is the world building function of technology.It builds the world because it builds the body. Depending on what technologies build the body we are able to then build and use other technologies. So technologies are conditions of the bodies, but bodies are conditions of technologies and it is this bodily constructed technologies that create worlds. Bodily constructed technologies do not so much create worlds as reframe worlds. They are tools of metaphysical (or perhaps ontological) transformation.

There is a discussion at the end of the book which touches upon one of my long standing interests: translation. Once we construct a new world, or reframe the existing world, how do we map our findings back on to another world? Can we even do this? Why do we want to do this? What are the world invariants? Are there world invariants? Is the job of yet another technology to create mapping (I have called this transductions) between technologically constructed worlds.

Then there is the concept of construction – which is less interesting to me – this is that we can study the models of science itself – to me this is akin to Barfield’s notion of idols. Rather than saving the appearances of a phenomena we are studying the results of the measurements of the phenomena. But what is the relationship between the worldviews built by technology and worlds (ie models) built by technologies. Are models worthy of investigation and phenomenology? I would say no – but I have to think about it.

Finally in a different section there is a discussion of calibration. This is perhaps the sister to translation (or what I call transduction), but it is also the starting stage of model building. What makes different iterations of a model different are its calibration, a way to change measurements or observations is to calibrate the instrument. Bound up with calibration is the notion of truth, that there is right starting point. How do we determine what this truth is? How does calibration fit into the world building of technology and tools.

A few weeks ago I sent a newsletter out about creation. A first draft privileged vision. But I rewrote it because I did not like this perspective. In reading Ihde’s book I understood why I privileged vision. That is was actually all of western science that has done this. That we turn everything into something that is read, for example our creation of charts and graphs. Vision is privileged. The way out of idol worshipping in the barfield sense, for Idhe (in my interpretation) is to honor all ways of sensing and create a more phenomenologically complete instruments.