Dashboard Knowledge and Technology


A consideration of the consequences for knowledge of different approaches to thinking.  First, the discussion continues from last time with Heidegger’s work The Question Concerning Technology, but then moves into the work of Owen Barfield (chapters 7 and 8 of Saving the Appearances). Said discussion then finds most noteworthy the similarities between Heidegger and Barfield within the wider (previously discussed) context of the dichotomy between literal and participatory thought.

The discussion also notes the relevance of appearance to both Heidegger’s interpretation of Aristotle’s Four Causes in their original meaning and Barfield’s interpretation of the ancient distinction between theory and hypothesis. Types of knowing are then discussed, in a way similar to that mentioned previously by Paul Wienpahl. Finally, the discussion, using Barfield’s analysis, views technology as a consequence of the narrowing of knowledge to that which is ‘useful’ by those like Francis Bacon, who view knowledge as power.

Thinkers/Authors whose ideas are discussed: Owen Barfield, Martin Heidegger

Also mentioned: Victor Pelevin. Aristotle. Plato. Matthew Arnold. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Friedrich Schiller. Simplicius. John Milton. Rupert Sheldrake. Albert Borgmann. Francis Bacon. Paul Wienpahl.


Aristotle’s Four Causes and their unity in providing the occasion of appearances in poiesis (bringing-forth; Her-vor-bringen). The “last enchantments” (traces of participation) versus the common (literal). The distinction between theory and hypothesis in the ancient world: theoria as contemplation and hypotheses as arrangements for saving the appearances. Copernicanism as a revolution in theory itself: a new theory of the nature of theory. Collective representation begins with the taking of models literally. Private versus public views of science by scientists. Dashboard (operative) knowledge versus deeper knowledge of the nature of things (without use, contemplative). ‘Knowledge is power’ as being effectively a reduction of knowledge to technology

Works Referred to:

The Question Concerning Technology / Die Frage Nach der Technik (Heidegger)

Saving the Appearances (Barfield)

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