Courses

Luka Boršić: Mechanization of nature at the outset of modern science
One of the main characteristics of modern science is description of nature in mechanistic terms, i.e. natural phenomena are explained as analogous to mechanical devices. This presents a contrast to the  majority of ancient philosophical systems which used livings organisms  as a point of departure in explaining the non-living world. The focus of the  course is on the development of “mechanistic philosophy” of P. Gassendi, G.  Galilei, Th. Hobbes, R. Descartes and I. Newton. F. Petrić’s influence on Gassendi (directly) and on Galilei (indirectly) will be discussed too.

 

Tomislav Bracanović: Ethics and new technologies
The purpose of this lecture is twofold. On the one hand, it will analyze some typical ethical concerns related to new technologies like AI and robotics, especially the extent to which they might inflict harm on human beings in areas of life such as employment, healthcare, education or intimate relationships. On the other hand, it will draw attention to a somewhat different relationship between new technologies and human morality. It seems likely, namely, that our moral sensitivity and ethical reasoning – as the tools required for dealing with new technological challenges – will themselves be transformed due to our lives becoming increasingly shaped by new technologies. By way of illustration, we will analyze a number of traditional ethical concepts to see how their meanings tend to change in response to technological changes.

 

Dušan Dožudić: The metaphysics of artefacts
The concept of technology is closely connected to the concept of artefact. Indeed, one way to understand technology is to treat it as a system or set of artefacts. So, in order to gain a better understanding of technology, one should try to define the concept of artefact as clearly as possible. Originally an artefact was defined as an intentionally produced entity whose production involves a modification of a material for some purpose. Thus understood,  the concept of an artefact brings us up against a number of interesting metaphysical issues. In this course, we will deal with questions such as: Do artefacts exist, and if so, in what way? What is the nature of an artefact? How should artefacts be classified? Is there a substantial difference between natural objects and artefacts? We will outline, compare, and assess, different perspectives on these issues, and then briefly connect them to other issues both in the philosophy of technology and in other philosophical disciplines, most notably epistemology, philosophy of science, and philosophy of language.

 

Srećko Kovač: Logic and machines
The problem of the role and use of mechanical methods in logic will be addressed from a philosophical and technical perspective. After some introductory remarks from the point of view of history of philosophy, we will focus on the following topics: Turing machines as abstract technology of formal proofs, general definition of a proof system by means of a Turing machine, the limits of a Turing machine and, consequently, of proof methods in general (undecidability, halting problem), oracle Turing machine as incorporating non-mechanical cognition into a mechanical procedure. We will examine the abstract causal nature of a Turing machine, employing a causal interpretation of justification logic. The nature of logic will be considered in relation to the concept of causality.

 

Boris Kožnjak: Technology, philosophy and science
Any discussion of the relationship between technology and philosophy is necessarily also a philosophical discussion concerning the ‘success dyad’ of modern times – technology and science. Generally seen as merely an applied science, technological success has been mainly considered as a simple corollary of the scientific success itself, which supposedly does not leave much to explain about the technological success once we understand the scientific success itself. Additionally, the philosophical neglect of technology and engineering traditionally originates in a sort of the aversion to know-how ‘screwdriver knowledge’, which allegedly – by its nature – cannot be a worthwhile subject of a ‘clean’ conceptual philosophical reflection. However, this neglect of technology and engineering did not only impoverish philosophical examination of the relationship between technology and science but is in fact based on premises that cannot survive critical scrutiny, as argued by ‘revisionist’ historians and philosophers of technology, who have substantially called into question the traditional understanding of this relationship, particularly the assumption that technology and engineering are reducible to the application of prior scientific knowledge in a simple and trivial manner. Moreover, some of these scholars have reversed the traditional hierarchical order by arguing that in fact science can be seen as applied technology. Such a view of the relationship between technology and science is not without far-reaching epistemological and ontological implications, most primarily in respect to the questions of the nature of modern experimental science as essentially technology-driven, and consequently of the very nature of phenomena it ‘discovers’ (or perhaps ‘produces’?) by technological means. In this section of the Summer School, I aim to discuss these topics in broad historical and epistemological contexts, and across the disciplines of ancient, analytic and continental philosophies.

 

Davor Pećnjak and Matej Sušnik: Ethical problems of modern military technology
Military technology always has a great influence on tactics, operations and strategy. Its development enables better movement, greater firepower and enhances command, control and execution. In our lecture we will address various ethical issues that arise in connection with the development of military technology. Special attention will be given to the ethical challenges posed by the use of remotely operated weapons in modern warfare. We will discuss whether the use of these weapons make the killings morally impermissible; whether anyone can be held responsible for the infliction of harm by autonomous weapons; whether the use of such weapons reduce the risk of collateral damage; and whether dehumanized weapons increase the chances that more wars will be fought.

 

Zdravko Radman: Tools, technology, and the extended mind
Discussed, and critically examined, will be one of the influential theories in the contemporary philosophy of mind and consciousness, namely that of the “extended mind” (Clark & Chalmers). Catching up on their basic credo that “cognition ain’t all in the head”, an attempt will be made to account for the possibility that, consequently, cognition (and the mental in general) is eventually “in the hands”; that the manual is a mode of shaping of the mental, which in turn will cast doubt on the strict separation of the “higher cognition” and bare embodiment. Exemplary we will focus on the usage of tools and will consider what kind of evidence do the contemporary cognitive- and neuroscience deliver that speaks in favor of the idea that manipulation of objects (and specifically tool usage) molds the mental and “extends” the mind in a powerful way. Next, we will examine the function and impact of more sophisticated technological tools such as computers. We will distinguish between “strong cognitivism” and “weak cognitivism” (Searle) and will provide arguments that are critical of the former (showing why the “computer metaphor” is inadequate and why the mental is not fully simulable) and accept the latter (treating computation as a helping means, not as a model of the mind). The approach offers an opportunity for the reexamination of the question: what computers (still) can’t do? (Dreyfus).

 

Martino Rossi Monti: The apocalypse of modernity: Intellectuals and technology in the 20th century
After the trauma of World War I (the first highly technological war) and the economic crash of 1929, many intellectuals of different, if not opposite, ideological or philosophical backgrounds became extremely critical of Western civilization. Some were convinced that this civilization had become irremediably flawed and was undergoing a profound decline or was approaching its end. To some, this process appeared irreversible; to others, it was a prelude to a new era. In some cases, this criticism led to a rejection of modernity as such. Many of these anxieties or apocalyptic predictions revolved around the advent of mass society and the impact of technology on the life, the mind and the behavior of modern people. Differently combined and adapted to often opposite worldviews, most of the arguments, metaphors and images through which these fears and anxieties were conveyed would reappear cyclically in the course of the 20th century. By adopting the perspective of the history of ideas, some of these views will be explored together with their historical roots and their long-lasting influence on contemporary attitudes and debates concerning technology.

 

Jure Zovko: Heidegger’s critique of modern technology: A critical approach
In this course, we will consider the main aspects of Heidegger’s criticism of modern technology. Despite Heidegger’s critique of modern technology, it is undeniable that our living world is determined by technical achievements. Although in the time of scientific development of technology, one had great expectations for the improvement of human life, the danger of, for example, biotechnical developments has proven to contain in itself many threats. These and similar threats posed by contemporary scientific research will form the basis for understanding Heidegger’s criticism of technology. We will also consider the extent to which human beings have become addicted to contemporary digital technology and subject to the dictatorship of electronic media. The question of what is to be produced no longer considers moral discussion regarding the threat to our environment, but only the demands of consumer society. Before this background, Heidegger’s critique of modern technology will be considered, specifically with regard to the study by Hurbert Dreyfuss, one of the experts in artificial intelligence.

 

Lise Zovko: Technai, epistēmai and poiēsis in Plato and Plotinus: Tacit knowledge in classical and post-classical intellectualism and implications for a post-technological concept of mind
There is much that occurs in the mind which we do not notice, but which constitutes a significant part of our experience and action. This unnoticed part is both above and below, and forms a vibrant and constantly present backdrop to our consciously mastered knowledge. Not only the sub-conscious or unconscious aspects of our psycho-physical selves, but also the super-conscious play a role in our self-consciously intelligent life. This influences not only the manner in which we acquire and interpret knowledge of the world, but also the manner in which we relate to and manipulate the physical things and material at our disposal. This course will consider the complementary relationship between technai and epistēmai in the tradition of Classical and post-Classical intellectualism, in particular in Plato and Plotinus, as they feed into our contemporary conception of techno-logy, and the relationship between these two and the concept of poiēsis, productive or creative activity. We examine the role of discursive/dianoetic and intuitive/noetic thought in the exercise of hypothetical method as framed in Plato’s Analogy of the Line, and how the practice of this form of dialectic is related to poiesis, both in artisanship and in fine art, and in relation to the highest abilities of the human spirit, as it attempts to emulate the activity of the phutourgos (Republic X), creator of the ideas or essences, and the master “technician”, the World-Soul as demoiourgos (Timaeus) who works with a preexisting “receptacle” or stuff to produce the cosmos as “a moving image of the eternal ideas.” The “weakness” of discursivity will be considered, when separated off in an artificial way from its intuitive and noetic complement, thereby undermining higher level reflection, problem-solving, creativity and innovation. The cooperative relationship of non-discursivity and discursivity will be explored as basis for a Post-technological concept of human action and creativity capable of directing us towards sustainable production and a restorative relationship our natural environment.