Device paradigm

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In the philosophy of technology, the device paradigm is the way "technological devices" are perceived and consumed in modern society, according to Albert Borgmann. It explains the intimate relationship between people, things and technological devices.

The concept of the device paradigm is a critical response to the Heidegger's notion of Gestell.[1] It has been widely endorsed by philosophers of technology, including Hubert Dreyfus, Andrew Feenberg and Eric Higgs, as well as environmental philosopher David Strong.


For Borgmann, a device is a thing that is used as a mean to an end. Therefore, a device is seen as a commodity. The term is meant to signify or distinguish between technological devices and "focal things and practices," which matter to people in their everyday affairs.[2] A focal thing is something of ultimate concern and significance, which may be masked by the device paradigm, and must be preserved by its intimate connection with practice.[3]

As technological devices increase the availability of a commodity or service, they also push these devices into the background where people do not pay attention to their destructive tendencies.[4] For example, the technology of central heating means that warmth is readily available and family members can retreat into the solitude of their rooms instead of working to chop wood or stoke the fires. Social interaction is reduced and the family struggles to find activities that enable such nurturing and care for each other.[4] The ubiquituous nature of information technology also makes it an important example of device paradigm.[5][2][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ William Lovitt, introduction to Heidegger's The Question Concerning Technology
  2. ^ a b Borgmann (1984), p196.
  3. ^ Borgmann, (1984), p210.
  4. ^ a b Borgmann (1984), p41.
  5. ^ Higgs, Eric; Light, Andrew; Strong, David (2010-12-15). Technology and the Good Life?. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780226333885. 
  6. ^ Borgmann (1984), p207.

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