CfA: ‘Phenomenology of human-technology relation’ (Bremen, July 2023)

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Call for Abstracts: Phenomenology of human-technology relation: A new perspective on technological design| The Institute of Philosophy at Bremen University.

Call for Abstracts:
Phenomenology of human-technology relation: A new perspective on technological design
July 7 – 8, 2023
Institute of Philosophy at Bremen University

When we move away from the commonly held modern view of technology as a simple and neutral tool for achieving goals, known as technological instrumentalism, we are left with an important question about our relationship with technology: if it is not simply a means to an end, what is the true nature of this relationship? This question has been explored through various perspectives in the philosophy of technology, such as the analytical approach, Latour’s actor-network theory and the phenomenological approach.

The phenomenological approach can be regarded as an overarching concept that includes various lines of reasoning developed by phenomenologists or those influenced by phenomenological thinking. These lines of reasoning can generally be categorized into two groups: (1) a synchronic-individualistic analysis of human-technology relations (HTR) and (2) a diachronic-collective analysis of HTR. The former focuses on our current relationship with technology and does not consider its historical context. It analyzes the relationship between a single individual and a particular technological object, and therefore utilizes different methodologies compared to the latter. On the other hand, the latter investigates our relationship with technology within a historical framework and analyzes it in a collective manner. As a result, the methodologies used in this approach are markedly different.

There are two distinct perspectives that can be observed in analyzing HTR from a synchronic-individualistic viewpoint. The first perspective, which is probably the most widely recognized, is Postphenomenology, which was introduced by Don Ihde in 1990 and has since been expanded upon by many thinkers. The second involves examining our interaction with technology using a phenomenologically-inspired cognitive and neuroscientific approach. Within this framework, discussions primarily center around the extension-incorporation distinction, which has been a topic of scholarly debate.

To examine HTR from a diachronic-collective perspective, there exist two distinct approaches. The first approach, which is more aligned with sociology, employs techniques from anthropology and ethnography. This approach has been shaped by the contributions of renowned thinkers such as Lucy Suchman, William J. Clancey, and Paul Dourish, who are widely acknowledged for their influence. On the other hand, the second approach draws heavily from archaeology and is exemplified by the works of Tim Ingold and Lambros Malafouris.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together scholars from various related fields to address the question of the human-technology relationship from multiple perspectives. The workshop will focus on several central questions, which include but are not limited to:

  • How can we conceptualize interaction as a key concept in the human-technology relationship?
  • Can the concept of design serve as a unifying concept that integrates all themes and ideas mentioned above?
  • How can these themes contribute to the current theory and practice of technological design?
  • In what ways can we apply these approaches to understand our relationship with emerging technologies such as VR, AR, and IOT?
  • How can we understand the moral status of technological artifacts such as robots and AI, such as Chat GPT, using these approaches?
  • With the widespread presence of intelligent and interactive machines, how can these lines of thought help us improve workplace design?

Confirmed keynotes

  • Prof. Peter-Paul Verbeek (University of Amsterdam),
  • Prof. David Gunkel (Northern Illinois University),
  • Prof. Dr. Marc Hassenzahl (University of Siegen),
  • Prof. Kari Kuutti (University of Oulu),

General information
The workshop will take place as part of the Humans on Mars Initiative (

How to apply
The workshop is open to attendees who may or may not have a paper presentation. For those who are interested in presenting their papers, there are limited slots available exclusively for Ph.D. students and Postdoctoral researchers. To apply for a presentation slot, interested individuals must submit a 500 to 1000 word abstract and a short bio in PDF format to the organizer, Dr. Abootaleb Safdari, at [email protected] before May 31, 2023. The presentations should not exceed 20 minutes and will be followed by a 10-minute Q&A session. On the other hand, if you prefer to attend the workshop without presenting a paper, you can send a short bio to the organizer by the same deadline. The selection results for all applicants will be communicated by June 20th, 2023.
There are no registration fees. Conference attendance is free of charge for presenters and for general public. Generally, we cannot offer reimbursement for travel and accommodation for the participants; however, if your circumstances prevent you from joining the conference, please write an e-mail explaining your situation. Depending on the budget, some travel expenses for selected papers may be covered.