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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 24, Issue 1/2, 2020

Critical Constructivism and Postphenomenology: Ethics, Politics, and the Empirical

Nolen Gertz
Pages 178-194

Democratic Potentialities and Toxic Actualities
Feenberg, Ihde, Arendt, and the Internet

In this paper I argue that while Feenberg’s critical constructivism can help us to see the political potential of technologies, it cannot help us to understand the political actuality of technologies without the help of postphenomenology. In part 2, I examine Feenberg’s attempt to merge Frankfurt School critical theory and SCOT into “critical constructivism.” In part 3, I focus on Feenberg’s analyses of the internet in order to highlight a blind spot in critical constructivism when it comes to threats to democracy that come from out of the demos itself. In part 4, I show how critical constructivism would benefit from adopting the theory of technological mediation found in postphenomenology by presenting a postphenomenological investigation of trolling and other forms of destructive behavior unaccounted for by Feenberg’s investigation of the internet. In part 5, I conclude by turning to the work of Hannah Arendt in order to show why, just as critical constructivism could benefit from becoming more postphenomenological, postphenomenology could benefit from becoming more critical.

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