Sunday, January 11, 2004

Power Failure Part 2

This post primarily deals with why Borgmann believes it’s important to realize that we live in a material culture. For us philosophers he starts with
"First in aspiring to theory it, (philosophy) has been removed from practice. Theory can inform practice, but practice is richer than theory while theory and, above all, self-sustaining. Practice can survive without theory while theory arises from a practice and perishes without the nourishment of a practice. Practice as philosophers have always seen it, is in turn removed from its tangible setting. Yet material culture constrains and details practice decisively. Practice, abstracted from its tangible circumstances, is reduced to gesturing and sometimes to posturing."
In essence we can not treat life (practice) as a science project, observing and making theories based on practices which are bound to a specific setting.
He goes on to argue to argue that the philosophers have given up their right and responsibility to make moral assessments of modern technological life. He argues that in today’s society there are two kinds of realities "commanding reality and pliable or disposable reality. He uses music as an example. Commanding reality is like a musical instrument. It requires work but ultimately it is treasured. While it may get very little playing time an instrument has a commanding presence in a room. A disposable item may be a stereo. While they can be imposing in size as well as louder and sound better then a played instrument they are disposable. They have a short life span. My thought was of computers. How long do we expect a computer be functional a couple years at the most?
Furthermore values are changing. What we value most in today’s world are these disposable things. The same is true with food. "The practice of cooking has been greatly diminished through the availability of convenience foods and microwave ovens (I’ll add restaurants as well)...Food itself has been reduced from a contextually intelligible and illuminating thing to an opaque if glamorous commodity." Food has become something to be consumed.
He concludes by arguing that many including most liberals who look for equality "overlook the narcotic effect that disposable reality has on people."
He then argues that ultimately ethics belongs to "communities of celebration" this is where I will pick up latter.

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