Albert Borgmann

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Albert Borgmann (1937 – May 7, 2023) was a German-born American philosopher, specializing in the philosophy of technology.

Borgmann was born in Freiburg, Germany, and was a professor of philosophy at the University of Montana. In 2013 Borgmann received the Golden Eurydice Award for his contributions to philosophy.[1] Borgmann died in Missoula, Montana on May 7, 2023, at the age of 85.[2]


Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry (1984) contributed to the emerging philosophical discussions of issues surrounding modern technology. Following a Heideggerian viewpoint, Borgmann introduced the notion of the device paradigm to explain what constitutes technology's essence loosely based on Heidegger's notion of Gestell (enframing). The book explores the limitations of conventional ways of thinking about technology and its social context, both liberal democratic ideals and Marxist lines of thought.

Crossing the Postmodern Divide (1992) is a techno-religious book characterized in terms of hyperreality and hyperactivity. Hyperactivity is usually described as a pathological syndrome of the child and workaholic, and associated with the familiar symptoms of stress and overwork. Borgmann extends the concept of hyperactivity to society as a whole, and defines it as "a state of mobilization where the richness and variety of social and cultural pursuits, and the natural pace of daily life, have been suspended to serve a higher, urgent cause" (p. 14). Christopher Lasch sees this as a kind of militarization of society – "the suspension of civility, the rule of the vanguard, and the subordination of civilians."[3] Meanwhile, critics such as Douglas Kellner have challenged Borgmann's distinction between the real and hyperreal and his denigration of hyperreality as problematic.[4]

In Real American Ethics (2006), distancing himself from both conservative and liberal ideology, Borgmann explores the role of Americans in the making of American values, and proposes new ways for ordinary citizens to improve the country, through individual and social choices and actions.[5]

Some of Borgmann's work has also influenced Catholic theologians, who typically interpret Borgmann's work in support of the position that technology is something to be overcome and that religion (i.e. Roman Catholicism) is to be humanity's saving grace.[6] Meanwhile, other Christian writers such as Marva Dawn have drawn on Borgmann's notion of the device paradigm to develop a critique of the church in its capitulation to commodification where worship, for example, becomes a device to attract and please.[7]



  • Philosophy of Language: Historical Foundations and Contemporary Issues (1977) ISBN 90-247-1589-X
  • Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: A Philosophical Inquiry (1984) ISBN 0-226-06629-0
  • Crossing the Postmodern Divide (1992) ISBN 0-226-06627-4
  • Holding onto Reality: The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millennium (1999) ISBN 0-226-06623-1. See the introduction to the book.
  • Power Failure: Christianity in the Culture of Technology (2003) ISBN 1-58743-058-4
  • Real American Ethics: Taking Responsibility for Our Country., University of Chicago Press (2006) ISBN 0-226-06634-7. See an excerpt from the book.


  • "The Question of Heidegger and Technology: A Critical Review of the Literature," (with the assistance of Carl Mitcham), Philosophy Today 23 (1987): 97-194.
  • Chapter by Borgmann in Buchanan, Richard and Victor Margolin, editors Discovering Design: Explorations in Design Studies. University of Chicago Press (1995) ISBN 0-226-07815-9
  • Kinds of Pragmatism (Fall 2003)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Programme | the power of information". Archived from the original on 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2013-12-28.
  2. ^ "Albert Borgmann". Legacy. Retrieved 10 September 2023.
  3. ^ Lasch, Christopher (Nov 20, 1992), "Crossing the Postmodern Divide", Commonweal, retrieved 2010-06-24
  4. ^ Kellner, Douglas (14 Dec 1997), Crossing the Postmodern Divide with Borgmann or Adventures in Cyberspace, archived from the original on January 18, 2010, retrieved 2010-06-24
  5. ^ "Borgmann, Albert Real American Ethics: Taking Responsibility for Our Country. 232 p. 6 x 9 2006". University of Chicago Press. 2006-08-17.
  6. ^ Wood, David (August 23, 2003), "Albert Borgmann on Taming Technology: An Interview", The Christian Century: 22–25, archived from the original on June 15, 2010, retrieved June 23, 2010
  7. ^ Sedgwick, Timothy F (Spring 2004), "Unfettered Hope: A Call to Faithful Living in an Affluent Society", Anglican Theological Review, retrieved 2010-06-24

Further reading[edit]

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