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Novotná, L.

Department of Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy

The story of three oppositions: Descartes, Heidegger and Latour

My thesis is a historical journey into the past and present showing the foundation and resolution of three oppositions. It presents a new innovative way to think about Man-World relations as proposed by Bruno Latour; Unit World guided by action. It concerns three oppositions which influenced the way  we relate with the World since the beginning of modern science: Subject vs Object, Man vs Nature and Man vs Technology. It analyzes and compares the works of Descartes, Heidegger and Latour through the lenses of given oppositions.

I will illustrate Descartes’ realism as the foundation of given oppositions explaining how his invention of ‘cogito’ draws a demarcation line between Man and the World. Descartes recluded Man into the conception of Subject, which is detached from the World filled with Objects. This exclusion of Man from his environment is further represented in the Man-Nature opposition, because Descartes’ idea that the laws of Nature can be comprehended by cogito, allowed Man to posit questions of mastery over Nature.

The argumentation follows with Heidegger's philosophy.  His conception of Gestell presents Nature to Man as something which is there at his disposal. This is a concept acquired by the use of technology and therefore Gestell represents the Man-Technology opposition. It shows Heidegger’s attempt to resolve all three oppositions by placing Man back in-the-World as being in his primary state. My thesis argues that this solution is unsatisfactory because Heidegger, in his descriptions, is putting an emphasis on Man and therefore he follows recognizing Man as an entity distinct from the World.

My thesis proposes Latour’s “realistic realism” as a satisfactory resolution for all three oppositions. Latour is introducing a new vocabulary without asymmetrical Man-World distinctions. It is the idea of the World as a unit Collective generated by action. This action is created symmetrically by the assembly of humans and non-humans.

Last modified:04 November 2013 1.46 p.m.