Reading Jaspers: The Apparatus & Alienation
Quotation 1The following quote illustrates how Jaspers thinks we lose our connection to the world through un-unique artefacts:
“The upshot of technical advances as far as everyday life is concerned has been that there is a trustworthy supply of necessaries, but in a way which makes us take less pleasure in them, because they come to us as a matter of course instead of with the relish given by a sense of positive fulfillment. Being more materials obtainable at a moment’s notice in exchange for money, they lack the aroma of that which is produced by personal effort. Articles of consumption are supplied in the mass and are used up, their refuse being thrown away; they are readily interchangeable, one specimen being as good as another. In manufactured articles turned out in large quantities, no attempt is made to achieve a unique and precious quality, to produce something whose individuality makes it transcend fashion, something that will be carefully cherished.” (Jaspers 1951, 47-48)
“All live alike, in the same worldless satisfaction of needs by identically replaceable things and materials; all are completely dependent upon each other for their concrete means of existence, yet without necessarily being in personal touch. The only freedom left to men by the calculable course of this endless productive machinery would be the freedom to watch” (Jaspers 1969–71, 1:112–13)
What can we learn from Karl Jaspers?
- Do you understand Jaspers’ ideas of mass rule, mass culture and the Apparatus?
- Do you understand the difference between determinism and instrumentalism?
- Did you pick up that Jaspers does not consider the “demonism of technology” an intrinsic property of technology?
ReferencesJaspers, K. 1951. Man in the Modern Age. Trans. E. Paul and C. Paul. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.———. 1969–71. Philosophy. Trans. E. B. Ashton. 3 vols. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Keulartz, J. 1998.
Philosophy of Technology and Design: Shaping the Relations Between Humans and Technologies
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