PHIL 115 Lecture Notes - Interpersonal Relationship, Mass Society

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Published on 19 Apr 2013
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Week 12 02/04/2013 06:23:00
Mill, James, Dewey, Nietzsche, Marcel
Answer 4 of 6 questions on the exam, 45 min/question
Each will have a passage from each book.
Identify the author, then a detailed analysis of the passage.
Worth 15% of your final grade
Marcel
Nazi death camps: phenomena like these make the philosopher posit the
question: what is going on with humanity?
Technology:
There is an upside of technology that does not need to be addressed.
The downside: we don’t notice [context: 1951] the dangers of it.
Technology in the 20th century: it has become a worldview, along with
science.
Though it serves our interests, technology comes at a high price.
Human degradation: a technology of ‘un-freedom’.
Does it make our lives/society more or less free?
It limits freedom, but we don’t see it this way.
How tech costs freedom:
Nazi death camps: the Jews were dehumanized before being killed.
They had to be humiliated first.
They had to be degraded in their own eyes, not just in the eyes of
the German soldiers.
Individual self-understanding must be uprooted.
The individuals must abuse each other and conspire against each
other.
Nietzsche: the human being places extreme importance on his self-
understanding.
This desire to humiliate is nothing new: it is universal and non-temporal.
Governments have methods and technologies and violence to
humiliate on a massive scale.
o Death
o Torture
o Imprisonment
Once the technology for these methods is available, it’ll be used.
We don’t destroy technology, we keep developing them.
Nuclear weapons: are they necessary?
o They were to win against Japan in WWII
o They were soon used as deterrents against the USSR during
the Cold War.
o We still possess nuclear weapons as deterrents against other
belligerent superpowers.
We are not at war, but we still possess nuclear weapons.
There is no technology of peace; it’s all of war.
Every aspect of our lives is governed by technology.
o Communication: limited face-to-face communication
o Cooking
o Travel
o Surveillance
o Recreation
We no longer have any sense of mystery; everything is transparent.
We become suspicious of privacy; there was never this problem
before.
Worries about radio [context: 1951]: palpable factor towards spiritual
degradation
Creates the impression of the citizen that the state is everywhere,
and that its message is thrust upon everyone (think of 1984 and
hypervisibility)
This has a normalizing effect on the citizens.
The purpose of propaganda is to persuade the viewer that it is
doing its job.
Technology makes it possible for states to mobilize entire
populations of whatever they choose through propaganda.
Technology is not wholly serving us; us and it serve each other equally.
We need a set of concepts to evaluate technology of a non-
technological vein.
This is how we can determine how bad technology is for us.
Example: we value speed of a car as an end in itself. Why?
o Technology makes us impatient, forming our consciousness
and values.
o Sometimes slowness is better; other things need to be done
quickly.
o Pilgrimage: slowness of travel makes it more meaningful.
April 4, 2013: Missed
April 5, 2013
Marcel on technology:
Human relations in the age of technology are becoming lessened and
habituated.
De-personalized social relations: we are greeted by crowds of
people; we don’t know them, and won’t see them again.
To make an institution more successful, they need to get bigger.
The economic imperative is to make business better.
When our lives are dependent on institutions, our typical experience
is one of de-personalization.
Marcel ponders the meaning of life, and that it surely cannot be as de-
personalized as it is now.
We are paying a spiritual price. The quality of life possible for us is within
a scientific, technological worldview that limits our perspective.
We have no other world view; all world views are self-justifying, so
we see it as the best world view.
We need a non-technological way of thinking about technology.
These old, religious-looking concepts like mystery, honour, sin,
transcendence must be rehabilitated.
o They are good, but do not need a religious context.
o We do not have a sense of mystery and deeper human
experiences.
When thinking philosophically, religious beliefs must be bracketed if
the philosopher has any.
Technology makes demands in people; it uses you by forcing you to think
and experience the world in pre-determined ways.
The experience of technological interpersonal experience is totally
different.
o We are unaware of this; we cannot overlook this fact.