Ihde – Hickman, after 32 Years

Don Ihde

SUNY Stonybrook

Early convinced that the Praxis philosophies led philosophy to technology, I asked Larry Hickman to do a book on Dewey for the first series on philosophy of technology with Indiana University Press. He did, and thus John Dewey’s Pragmatic Technology (1990) was published along with Michael Zimmerman’s Heidegger’s Confrontation with Modernity (1990) and my own Technology and the Lifeworld (1990), a systematic redoing of my earlier Technics and Praxis (1979). By 2001, Larry had also published Philosophical Tools for Technological Culture with the Indiana series, thus making him part of this early American philosophy of technology generation.

I have followed Larry’s work all along, now 32 years. In the pragmatism of Dewey and Rorty, I recognized compatibility with the European phenomenologies of Husserl, Heidegger, and Merleau-Ponty. All held in common an anti-reductionistic praxis, anti-early-modern body-mind epistemologies, and were pro-experiential and pro-perception in their outlooks (via animal models, not Cartesian-Lockean ones). So, what I admired early in Dewey was his Darwinian approach to experience–the animal-organism/environment model of testing for problems, which I saw echoed in phenomenology. This led, as we today know, to my post-phenomenological approach which began in l988 with my Rorty-inspired Gothenburg lectures. I have always owed Pragmatism its debts and have regarded Hickman as an inspiration.

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