15.334 Borgmann and experiential connection to nature

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Tue Oct 30 2001 - 03:36:07 EST

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 15, No. 334.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

             Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2001 08:26:14 +0000
             From: Ben Welsh <inter66ested@yahoo.ca>
             Subject: In response

       I am very curious as to the nature of Osher
    Doctorow's response to the ideas presented in Arun
    Tripathi's email. If we are to premise our discussion
    on the subject of Borgmann's work, I am fascinated at
    the nature of the response. I will reprint the
    introductory questions here for clarity of my

    "How can one experience oneself as an integral part of
    nature - not at a conceptual level, but as an actual

    "How have we lost the experience of our connection
    with nature?"

    My initial reaction to Arun Tripathi's email was based
    primarily on a transcendental philosophical approach,
    whereby I presumed the phrasing of "actual experience"
    and "connection with nature" to be of literal meaning.
    This being the case I could not agree more with
    Borgmann's idea. There has been a fundamental
    degradation of the relationship between life and
    nature ever since the onset of objects and practices
    that remove human hands to places far from the
    physicality of a natural existence. Within this
    framework it is possible to understand technology in
    the past and present century as removing our
    connection with nature. However, this being the case,
    what are the possible solutions open to a society
    interwoven with the very fabric of what separates us
    from accessing our physical world on a continuing
    basis? I would like to suggest the possibility of
    impossibility, keeping in mind the present technology
    we are functioning with up until now. Any out of body
    interface with technology inevitably detracts from the
    self actualization only possible through the unbroken
    connection with our natural environment. Until
    technology begins to move inward, in symbiosis with
    humanity perhaps in the form of interface technology
    as suggested by some cyborg theorists, there must be
    an inherent and inevitable separation between the
    natural world and its inhabitants.
            This being said, are we to stop striving for
    development of greater technological advancement? Is
    there a response to my presumed inevitability? Osher
    Doctorrow suggested "to try limited scales of adoption
    and compare them with similar situations where the
    technology is not adopted - in effect, make
    alternative decisions into a benign or benevolent
    competition, perhaps indefinitely." Is this a worthy
    venture or simply a means to an end? I had not thought
    of this possibility and am intrigued by the resultant
    effects it may have in deciphering some code for
    understanding sections of the world as affected or
    disaffected by technology. This being the case, how
    would perception and reality be balanced out? Where
    would the impetus for decisions come from? Would the
    groups be made aware of their status of test subjects
    and how would the non-technologically tainted group be
    observed; from within their group and without
    knowledge of the other, or from without with an
    arguably skewed viewpoint? This idea is of great
    interest to me and I welcome any comments and
                                     Thank you,
                                       Ben Welsh

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