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Line Drawing

By Morgan Skordian

From the Faculty Nominator, Steven DeCaroli:

Morgan wrote this essay for my "Philosophy and Technology" course in which we set out to challenge the assumption that biology and technology are fundamentally different, i.e., the assumption that organisms are properly understood as distinct from machines. Morgan's paper expands on this project by attempting to derive a comprehensive definition of technology and, along the way, engages the work of several notoriously difficult thinkers, most notably, the writings of Gilles Deleuze and Gilbert Simondon. What he proposes is a classification of technology that extends far beyond the conventional understanding of technology as simply a type of machine. His essay demonstrates with remarkable clarity that technology is not so much a thing as it is a set of overlapping relationships-be they the relationship between a bird and its talons, between humans and their tools, or even between a society and its ideologies.

From the author, Morgan Skordian:

In this paper I begin an exploration into the question of technology. Or rather, I attempt to tease out what it is that defines technology, the word, the category, as something distinct from other categories; for instance, what does it denote that mechanical, biological, organic, or natural, do not? What is it that separates the technical from the animal, or from the human for that matter? What do we mean when we say technology? To what object or idea, to what set of qualities are we referring? Ultimately, this exploration led to the ideas presented in the following paper, that the boundaries of the category technology could easily be extended to encompass organic life, political systems, and all variety of other elements that are not often considered to be technological. This, of course, alters not only the concept of technology but also of living, material, human, as well as a number of other related categories. When technology is understood as something relational, referring to the establishment and breaking apart of various connections, rather than as something referring to metal and gears as such, then all variety of seemingly disparate categories can be viewed as having a technological element, or even as being thoroughly technological, without having any metal parts, any gears, or any human fingerprints. Finally, this leads to a discussion less concerned with the particular category of technology and more so with categories in general, where their boundaries are, how those boundaries are established, who establishes them, and ultimately, how these categories of understanding, these means by which we stabilize our notion of a fixed reality, broken into thoroughly knowable parts, are actually the very picture of instability; always changeable, never fixed or existing in any essential way, and always able to slide over or under one another, reconfigured to whatever ends. 


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