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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second In order to understand mediation, we need to take into account that mediation, in fact, has two kinds of dimensions. Technologies mediate how human beings are there in the world, how we act, how we behave, how we do things. And technologies mediate how the world can be there for human beings, how humans perceive the world and interpret the world. So let’s start with that last dimension. How do technologies mediate our perception of the world? Don Ihde here makes a distinction between micro and macro perception. So micro perception is sensory perception. How do we perceive things? How do we see things with our senses? Macro perception is how we interpret the world on the basis of those sensory perceptions.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds Technologies, in fact, do both. They help us to see, hear, feel things and also to understand the world in a new way, because of the new ways of accessing the world that they open for us. Ultrasound is actually maybe a good example of this. When we use ultrasound to make an ultrasound scan of an unborn child, of a fetus, this effect changes a lot in how we interpret that unborn child, that fetus. We actually have never been able to see the fetus. Now, suddenly, we are able to see it. But seeing it is not just making a neutral picture of the fetus. Suddenly also the fetus appears against the background of all kinds of medical norms.

Skip to 1 minute and 25 seconds Suddenly we can now see if the fetus might suffer from a kind of an illness and that we now have become somehow responsible for, where it used to be “fate.” So what a fetus, what an unborn child is for us, now what parenthood means and how we can take responsibility for the fetus, actually has changed radically because of obstetric ultrasound. Another example might actually be the example of scientific instruments. Practices of science, the ways in which scientists do science, is largely dependent on all kinds of instruments that they use to perceive all kinds of things in the world. In psychology, for instance, the role of FMRI imaging has become very, very large.

Skip to 2 minutes and 7 seconds Without FMRI imaging, psychologists would have different frameworks of interpretation. Suddenly, MRI imaging enables them to see all kinds of activities in the brain, that can be linked to the mind, that can then be linked to understanding a phenomenon like behavior, attention, learning, etc. So it’s not that we somehow should see technology here as applied science, it’s rather the other way around. Science is applied technology. So to sum it up, technologies mediate our perceptions. They mediate how we perceive the world and also how we interpret the world, and that is one of the central dimensions of what things do.

How does technology mediate our perception?

In this video we explain once more that we can analyse the mediation relation in two dimensions. When we zoom-in on the dimension of perception Ihde shows that we can also differentiate between two kinds: micro-perceptions (sensory perception) and macro-perceptions (interpreted perceptions; understanding). In the next steps you will learn how Ihde characterises the forms of the interrelations between human beings and the world when technological artefacts are involved.

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Philosophy of Technology and Design: Shaping the Relations Between Humans and Technologies

University of Twente

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