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Alternative Modernity: The Technical Turn in Philosophy and Social Theory (1995)



In this new collection of essays, Andrew Feenberg argues that conflicts over the design and organization of the technical systems that structure our society are shaping deep choices for our future. A pioneer in the philosophy of technology, Feenberg demonstrates the continuing vitality of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and calls into question the anti-technological stance commonly associated with its theoretical legacy. Technology need not always oppose human values, he claims. On the contrary, it contains potentialities that could be developed as the basis for an alternative form of modern society. Entering into a dialogue with the ideas of Jurgen Habermas, Herbert Marcuse, Jean-Francois Lyotard, and Kitaro Nishida, Feenberg contests the prevailing conception of technology as an unstoppable force responsive only to its own internal dynamic. His argument is substantiated in a series of compelling and well-grounded case studies. He explores science fiction and film, AIDS research, the French experience with the "information superhighway," and the Japanese reception of Western values to show how technology, when subjected to public pressure and scrutiny, can respond to ethical and aesthetic criteria. Alternative Modernity lifts the debates surrounding the social and cultural construction of technology to a new level. It is certain to interest philosophers, social theorists, and cultural critics.
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This article reads from Andrew Feenberg's Critical Theory of Technology, analyzing the International Bank of Educational Objects (BIOE) in Physics teaching, investigating whether the Educational Objects (EO) available in BIOE contemplate a process of teaching and learning that is critical and reflexive and that articulates with one or more pedagogical conceptions linked to its educational objective. For this, the qualitative approach of the documentary type was used for data collection and content analysis to arrive at the results. Thus, we verify that the EO for Physics available in BIOE do not contemplate a critical and reflexive teaching and learning process articulated to one or more pedagogical conceptions linked to its educational objective; it does not broaden the problematization related to educational practices in physics towards the politicization of science and technology, in understanding the implications of an educational technology; and it is absent in the very understanding of human relations with such objects and the systems in which they operate, including the teaching and learning process.
Conference Paper
While Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research on health and well-being is increasingly becoming more aware and inclusive of its social and political dimensions, spiritual practices are still largely overlooked there. For a large number of people around the world, especially in the global south, witchcraft, sorcery, and other occult practices are the primary means of achieving health, wealth, satisfaction, and happiness. Building on an eight-month long ethnography in six villages in Jessore, Bangladesh, this paper explores the knowledge, materials, and politics involved in the local witchcraft practices there. By drawing from a rich body of anthropological work on witchcraft, this paper discusses how those findings contribute to the broader issues in HCI around morality, modernity, and postcolonial computing. This paper concludes by recommending ways for smooth integration of traditional occult practices with HCI through design and policy. We argue for occult practices as an under-appreciated site for HCI to learn how to combat ideological hegemony.
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