[Honors-in-Discipline (Choose below)], Honors in Philosophy
Date of Award
Thesis Professor Department
Philosophy and Humanities
Keith Green, Stephen Fritz
In my thesis, I examine the relationship between modern technology and human autonomy from the philosophical perspective of Martin Heidegger. He argues that the essence of modern technology is the Gestell. Often translated as ‘enframing,’ the Gestell is a mode of revealing, or understanding, being, in which all beings are revealed as, or understood as, raw materials. By revealing all beings as raw materials, we eventually understand ourselves as raw materials. I argue that this undermines human autonomy, but, unlike Andrew Feenberg, I do not believe this process is irreversible from Heidegger’s perspective. I articulate the meaning of the Gestell as an historical claim and how it challenges human autonomy, but may never absolutely eradicate it. Contra Feenberg’s interpretation, I argue that Heidegger’s ontology, including the Gestell, provides a crucial ground for understanding how we might salvage autonomy in a culture increasingly dominated by modern technology. Specifically, by drawing on Heidegger’s conception of Gelassenheit, I suggest that salvaging human autonomy requires a calm acceptance and opening up to the challenge of modern technology. This is not, as Feenberg suggests, a passive acceptance of the eradication of human autonomy. Rather, this is the ontological ground that provides us with the possibility of salvaging autonomy. By opening us up to the essence of modern technology, we understand the contingency of the Gestell, its essentially ambiguous nature, and are granted with the freedom to subordinate its reign to other human values and modes of understanding being.
East Tennessee State University
Honors Thesis - Open Access
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Peck, Zachary, "Das Gestell and Human Autonomy: On Andrew Feenberg's Interpretation of Martin Heidegger" (2015). Undergraduate Honors Theses. Paper 292. https://dc.etsu.edu/honors/292
Copyright by the authors.