Don Ihde

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Don Ihde
Don Ihde.jpg
Born 1934
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Hermeneutic phenomenology

Don Ihde (/dɑːn d/; born 1934) is an American philosopher of science and technology, and a post-phenomenologist. In 1979 he wrote what is often identified as the first North American work on philosophy of technology,[1] Technics and Praxis. Ihde is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 2013 Ihde received the Golden Eurydice Award.[2] Ihde is the author of twenty-two original books and the editor of many others. Recent examples include Acoustic Technics (2015);[3]Husserl's Missing Technologies(2016);[4] Embodied Technics (2010); Heidegger's Technologies: Postphenomenological Perspectives (2010); Postphenomenology and Technoscience Chinese 2008/English 2009) also in Spanish, Hebrew and forthcoming Portuguese; Chasing Technoscience (2003), edited with Evan Selinger; Bodies in Technology (2001); Expanding Hermeneutics: Visualism in Science (1998); and Postphenomenology (1993). Ihde lectures and gives seminars internationally and some of his books and articles have appeared in a dozen languages. He is currently working on Imaging Technologies: Plato Upside Down.

Bodies in cyberspace[edit]

Ihde's Bodies in Technology[5] spells out the original exploration of the ways cyberspace affects the human experience. The book is useful to the research scholars who are exploring the role of bodies in the VR technologies. The book is the study of embodiment in cyberspace, an ideal book also related to human–computer interaction (HCI); Ihde explores the meaning of bodies in technology.

Don Ihde entirely rejects the Cartesian dualism and Ihde further "does not believe we human beings can exist in disembodied form." Even to have an out of body experience is to have an implicit 'here-body' from which we experience an 'object-body' over there. Ihde believes in having 'I am my body.' But it outlines are ambiguous and 'my experience' can reach through other spatialitities. These arguments of Don Ihde can be further explored in his book Bodies in Technology [6]

Beginning with a "phenomenology of multistability" in the way various "technological media" are perceived, Don Ihde examines the "roles of human embodiment, perception, and spatial transformations within communication and information media." [7]

Technoscience Research Seminar[edit]

Ihde is the Director of the Technoscience Research Group in the Philosophy Department. The study of technoscience examines cutting-edge work in the fields of the philosophies of science and technology, and science studies; it also emphasizes the roles of our material cultures and expertise.

Ihde directs the graduate and post-graduate Technoscience research seminar, which reads only living authors such as Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, Ian Hacking, Andrew Pickering, Sandra Harding. Ihde has on occasion invited other authors to the seminar for a "roast". Past roastees have included Peter Galison, Hubert Dreyfus, Albert Borgmann, Andrew Feenberg, and Harry Collins.

The seminar on technoscience has resulted in a number of publications related to its activities, and participants regularly present research results at major international conferences (Aarhus, Denmark; Vienna, Austria; CERN, Switzerland, etc.).[8]

In a paper "Was Heidegger prescient concerning Technoscience?", Ihde re-examines Martin Heidegger's philosophy of science with a reappraisal of what was innovative, and what remained archaic. Heidegger then is read against the background of the "new" approaches to science in science studies, and against the background of the scientific revolutions which have occurred since the mid-20th century.[9]

Expanding hermeneutics[edit]

On the issues of Hermeneutics from the Phenomenological Perspective Ihde examines what might he called a "material hermeneutics," which characterizes much practice within the domains of technoscience. Ihde rejects the vestigial Diltheyan division between the humanistic and natural sciences and argues that certain types of critical interpretation, broadly hermeneutic, characterize both sets of disciplines. Ihde examines what he calls a style of interpretation based in material practices relating to imaging technologies which have given rise to the visual hermeneutics in technoscience studies. Veszprém, 1993, it was at that meeting that Ihde first proposed the notion of Expanding hermeneutics.

Material hermeneutics[edit]

Abstract of Ihde's Sheffield paper on Material Hermeneutics, 2006:[10]

A material hermeneutics is a hermeneutics which "gives things voices where there had been silence, and brings to sight that which was invisible." Such a hermeneutics in natural science can best be illustrated by its imaging practices. The objects of this visual hermeneutics were not texts nor linguistic phenomena, but things which came into vision through instrumental magnifications, allowing perception to go where it had not gone before. One could also say that a visual hermeneutics is a perceptual hermeneutics with a perception which while including texts, goes beyond texts. This local history gives but a small glimpse of the directions Ihde tried to outline in Expanding Hermeneutics. Such material hermeneutics are doubly material—first, in the sense that the objects being investigated are material entities—paramecia, extra-geocentric satellites, and eventually even the chemical make-up of the stars—but also it is material in the sense that the instruments being used to 'bring close' such phenomena are also material entities, technologies, by which and through which the natural sciences are embodied.
In Expanding Hermeneutics I outlined both a weak program of hermeneutics in natural science, that is, a program of actual and extant practices which can best be understood as hermeneutic practices, and a strong program which was more prescriptive, suggesting ways to radicalize a material hermeneutics. In part the trajectory of expanding hermeneutics comes from much that I have learned from the new versions of interdisciplinary "science studies," which include the strands of the new sociologies of science, feminist critiques of science, and the varieties of philosophy of science which emphasize praxis, instruments, and laboratories over sheer theory production, all under which he now title "technoscience studies." I developed a sensitivity to the ways in which our instruments, technologies operate in hermeneutic ways.

Philosophers in the 'R&D' position[edit]

Don Ihde has argued on numerous occasions that "if the philosopher is to play a more important role it must not be only in or limited to the 'Hemingway role'. Rather, it should take place in the equivalent of the officers' strategy meeting, before the battle takes shape. I will call this the 'R&D role'" (Ihde, 1999, p. 46).[11] Philosophers should engage themselves on "interdisciplinary research teams and play precisely ‘R&D’ roles" (p. 49).[12] Over the years Don Ihde has been pleading that philosophers should be in the 'R&D' position. The philosophers of technology "should reposition themselves” in the “R&D” position where "technologies are taking developmental shape, in think tanks, in incubator facilities, in research centers. Only then can truly "new" and emerging technologies be philosophically engaged" (Ihde, 2012, p. 332). [13] "Philosophers, postphenomenologists, in R&D positions could conceivable bring to bear thinking on future, rather than past or actually in-place phenomena" argues Don Ihde (2003, p. 7).[14]

Selected works[edit]

  • Sense and Significance (1973)
  • Listening and Voice: A phenomenology of sound (1976)
  • Experimental Phenomenology: An Introduction (1977)
  • Technics and Praxis: A Philosophy of Technology (1979)
  • Hermeneutic Phenomenology: The Philosopher of Paul Ricoeur (1980)
  • Existential Technics (1983)
  • Consequences of Phenomenology (1986)
  • Technology and the Lifeworld: From Garden to Earth (1990)
  • Instrumental Realism (1991)
  • Postphenomenology: essays in the postmodern context (1993)
  • Philosophy of Technology: An Introduction (1998)
  • Expanding Hermeneutics: Visualism in Science (1999)
  • Bodies in Technology (2001)
  • Chasing Technoscience (2003)
  • 2nd expanded edition, Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound (2007)
  • Ironic Technics (2008)
  • Postphenomenology and Technoscience Chinese 2008/English 2009) also in Spanish, Hebrew and forthcoming Portuguese
  • Embodied Technics (2010)
  • Heidegger's Technologies: Postphenomenological Perspectives (2010)
  • Expanded 2nd edition, Experimental Phenomenology: Multistabilities (2012)
  • Acoustic Technics (2015)
  • Husserl's Missing Technologies (2016)


  1. ^ Paul T. Durbin "Philosophy of technology: in search of discourse synthesis", Technè: Research in Philosophy and Technology 10:2, Winter 2006, pp. 95–96: "Don Ihde's Technics and Praxis is the first full-scale philosophical analysis of technology by an American to appear in English"
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  8. ^ Ralon, Laureano. "Interview with Don Ihde". Figure/Ground. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  9. ^ Ihde, D (2001) Was Heidegger Prescient Concerning Technoscience? Existentia 11 (3-4):373-386
  10. ^ "Material Hermeneutics", presented at "A Symmetrical Archaeology, TAG 2005" symposium.
  11. ^ Ihde, D (1999) Technology and Prognostic Predicaments, AI & Soc (1999) 13:44-51, Springer-Verlag London
  12. ^ Ihde, D (1999) Technology and Prognostic Predicaments, AI & Soc (1999) 13:44-51, Springer-Verlag London
  13. ^ Ihde, D (2012) Can continental philosophy deal with the new technologies? (pp. 321 – 332), Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Vol. 26, No. 2, The Pennsylvania State University Press
  14. ^ Ihde, D (2003) Postphenomenology - Again? (pp. 1 -30) Working Papers from Centre for STS Studies Department of Information & Media Studies, University of Aarhus, Published by The Centre for STS Studies, Aarhus


  • Evan Selinger, Postphenomenology: A Critical Companion to Ihde, SUNY Press, 2006.
  • Ihde, D (2004) A phenomenology of technics. In D. M. Kaplan (Ed.) Readings in the philosophy of technology (pp. 137-159). Lanham, MD.: Rowman & Littlefield.

External links[edit]