Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Bjørn Schiermer presents a working paper on 'Ontological Dualism and Theory of Agency'

The present chapter investigates the detrimental theoretical and phenomenological consequences of metaphysical dualism and subject-centered approaches to action. The chapter is critically centered on the phenomenology of German-Austrian phenomenologist Alfred Schutz. It explores how Schutz's dualism impacts on his depiction of our relation to the objects around us.
First, I turn towards Schutz most general formulations of his understanding of objectivity and of our practical relations with the physical world, as these conceptions are formulated in his writings on the "world of working". Second, I investigate the impact of Schutz cognitivism, i.e. the way he understands objects in his so-called "theory of relevance". Thereupon, I seek out some of the more progressive moments in Schutz: I thus explore, third, his attempt to phenomenologically describe the process of choice or deliberation, focusing on the object-oriented impulses emerging at this occasion. And, fourth, I examine his scattered attempts to do justice to our practical familiarity and transparency with artefacts and technology, that is his theory of Zuhandenheit or 'black boxing'.
As will be clear, however, Schutz dualism forbids him to develop these progressive object-oriented impulses in any consistent way. The conclusion thus remains negative: The separation of the subject from the things, technologies and artefacts in which it is entangled fundamentally disfigures and misconstrues our relation to the objects.

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