Techno-phenomenology: Martin Heidegger and Bruno Latour on how phenomena come to presence

  • Arianne Conty


This article will set out to elucidate the ways in which the philosophies of technology of Martin Heidegger and Bruno Latour seek to explain how the phenomenal world of nature, objects and tools come to presence as events through their interrelations with each other and with us. Both thinkers seek to overcome a subject/object divide that they both understand as characterising modernity in order to reveal a greater interdependence between nature and culture, human and machine. Not only do they both seek to deconstruct the subject/object divide that techno-science has imposed as a paradigm dictating how we as subjects understand the world, but they both use a similar strategy to do so, finding a better means of allowing phenomena to come to presence by turning to premodern culture, ancient Greece for Heidegger, ‘primitive’, non-modern cultures for Bruno Latour. And both find in art the link to move beyond the modern paradigm to reveal technology’s hidden creative potential. By focusing on a shared problem, that of the subject/object divide that both thinkers understand as constitutive of modernity, and a shared strategy to resolve this problem, that of art, this article will set out to show how Heidegger and Latour’s strategies for revealing the co-constitution of Dasein and World as co-dependent agencies are more similar than is commonly held. But through this analysis of co-dependency, a central divergence between the two thinkers will come to the fore, that of singularity (Heidegger) versus multiplicity (Latour). It is this crucial difference, I will hold, that will prove critical in envisioning the future of phenomenology. To the extent that we are now living amongst hybrid entities, cyborgs and forms of intelligent emergence where subject and object, nature and culture, can no longer be so easily differentiated, it seems as though opening ourselves to what presences may entail heeding Latour’s call to embrace both mediations and multitudes. If subjects and objects have been replaced by mediations that can finally ‘show themselves in themselves’ and express their own agency, and transcendental consciousness has been abandoned for an emergence consciousness that is immanent, interdependent, and greater than the sum of all individual minds, we must finally question the impact of such a state of affairs on phenomenological perception itself.

South African Journal of Philosophy 2013, 32(4): 311–326

Author Biography

Arianne Conty
American University of Sharjah, 26666 Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0258-0136