Praxis Seminar: Research Colloquium in Practical Philosophy 2023/24, Session 3

Darian Meacham

Maastricht University

Why potatoes aren’t institutions? Or why institutions might help the phenomenology of technology

31 October 2023, 16h00 (Lisbon Time — GMT+0)

Sala Mattos Romão (Room C201.J – Department of Philosophy)

School of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon



In this talk I have a fairly straightforward aim. I ask whether the phenomenological concept of “Institution” (Stiftung), which sometimes goes under the translation (into both French and English) foundation or establishment, can help to better articulate how phenomenology or phenomenological method can contribute to the philosophical examination of technology. I think that the answer is yes. Nonetheless, it is not clear from the outset that the concept of institution as developed in the phenomenological tradition and then further in certain branches of political theory can be rendered easily as a method or tool in the philosopher of technology’s quiver. The application of phenomenological method in the philosophy of technology under the umbrella of post-phenomenology has also come under recent criticism for being insufficiently attentive to questions of broader historical and political context (Cressman 2020), a classic critique of phenomenology, and as being insufficiently phenomenological (Ritter 2021). The aim here is not to intervene in these debates about the merits and shortcomings of post-phenomenological method in the philosophy of technology or whether post-phenomenology is sufficiently phenomenological but rather to understand how the concept of institution transformed phenomenological analysis and how this might be of some use in approaching the question of technology from a phenomenological perspective. Looking at institution in this way may also shed some light on the concept itself and help us to understand it’s limitations.