Home > Uncategorized > John L. Roberts “Trauma, Technology and the Ontology of the Modern Subject”

John L. Roberts “Trauma, Technology and the Ontology of the Modern Subject”

Roberts, John L. 2013. Trauma, Technology and the Ontology of the Modern Subject. Subjectivity 6(3): 298-319.

[…] both Foucault and later Heidegger find modern subjectivity beset with the impulse to technologically reduce phenomena to what can be discretely known and mastered, thereby concealing other possible ways of being. (299)

[…] Heidegger (1977a) writes that‘Enframing means the gathering together of that setting-upon which sets upon man, i.e., challenges him forth, to reveal the real, in the mode of ordering, as standing-reserve’(p. 20). Notonly does the essence of modern technology, asGestell, order natural objects and processes into standing reserve, but human being itself becomes ordered into standing reserve; this is the essence of biopower (Foucault, 1979/1990). (300)

[…] the Kantian and modern ‘epistemological turn’ transforms Newtonian and Leibnizian conceptions of space/time as fundamental relation among objects in the external world into a dimension of thesubject’s relation to world through its own capacities. Because Kantian time is conceived neither empirically nor conceptually, but asa prioriintuition, the framework of all perceptions (Hoy, 2009), it becomes the most fundamental of cognitive filters that would frame the modern subject’s understanding of itself. Nonetheless, Kant’s cognitivism must itself traumatically lose time, as it is enabled to merely represent its own prior representations as a kind of post hocexamination of film footage. (303)

Memory, as a psychological construct, is not tethered to a truthful relation with self or events in the world, but the engraved experience of time, the representation of representation. […] As Hacking (1995) observes,‘One feature of the modern sensibility dazzling in its implausibility [is] the idea that what has been forgotten is what forms our character, our personality, our soul’ (p. 209). (304)

If the historical origin of representation is actually engaged, actually found, its thought falls into contradiction because it becomes identified with something other than itself, part of the terrain it desires to survey (Foucault, 1966/1973). (309)

For modernity, Dasein exists in a specific state of intrinsic incompleteness; its lack in being is that of Foucault’s neo-Kantian finitude, but raised to an ontological level.But what kind of historically constellated lack or finitude ontologically figures Dasein?In Heideggerian terms, Dasein’s finitude or lack in being is directly related toSorge, or the care-structure, which –in turn –is temporally anchored in being-towards-death. Along these lines, Carman (2003) argues that, for Heidegger, death is the perpetual closing down of possibilities, which allows others to ex-sist or to stand out. (310)

‘Our possibilities are constantly dropping away into nullity…. To say we are always dying is to say that our possibilities are constantly closing down around us’(Carman, 2003, p. 282). (311)

Being-towards-death, as negation, as the upsurge of time welling up from within Dasein, is that which separates itself from itself as the coming im/possibilities of the future. In other words, the modern subject’s temporality relates tofuturity as a nullity –not an absent but remote present, but the ever-present nihilation of what is not taken up, what becomes an impossibility as unlived. (311)

Furthermore, the everpresent nullity underwriting the future also traumatically separates Dasein from its lived, factical past. Consequently, Dasein’s trauma, stretching from the future and into the past, pervades its existence. Because of this historically ontological trauma, Dasein’s thrownness is always in question, and the meaning of its origin, its being-in-the-world is always potentially subverted by the threat of nothingness. (311)

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