Concrete/Abstract: Sketches for a Self-Reflexive Epistemology of ICT Use

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


The philosophy of technology in recent years has worked hard to bridge the gap between the instrumentalist and determinist perspectives that used to dominate former philosophical studies of technology and media. Instrumentalism sees technology as merely neutral means to an end. Determinism, broadly speaking, defines technology as some substantive, mostly threatening force that unilaterally determines and shapes other domains of life. As said, contemporary philosophy of technology has been striving to steer a middle course between these two standpoints. Yet notwithstanding those efforts, it is striking to see how in pop culture, in "common sense," and generally in everyday media/technology use, both views still prevail.

The hypothesis proposed here is that in order to clarify this imbalance between theoretical reflection and practical performance, so to speak, we must look into or even develop something like an epistemology of everyday technology/media use. How do, and most importantly, how can the insights gleaned from philosophy of technology - e.g., about ambiguity, agency, etc. - play out within and during technologically mediated praxis? Perhaps, what one needs is not more knowledge about technological issues, but another way of thinking about them? In order to tackle these questions, we are in need of an epistemological map of sorts, of our everyday dealing with technology. In this paper, the groundwork is laid for such a map, by marrying a barebones philosophy-of-technology framework to concepts derived from cybernetics, systems theory, and general semantics, especially in the figures of Gregory Bateson and Alfred Korzybski.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication'The Art of Living with ICT: Exploring the Range of Options from "Adoption" to "Rejection"' - Symposium in iMinds-SMIT Lecture Series
PublisheriMinds-SMIT, Free University of Brussels (VUB)
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2014
EventThe Art of Living with ICT: Exploring the Range of Options from “Adoption” to “Rejection” - Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 25 Apr 201425 Apr 2014


ConferenceThe Art of Living with ICT: Exploring the Range of Options from “Adoption” to “Rejection”


  • philosophy of technology
  • Gregory Bateson
  • Alfred Korzybski
  • epistemology


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