On Heidegger, Medicine, and the Modernity of Modern Medical Technology
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2007 June; 10(2): 185-195
This paper examines medicine's use of technology in a manner from a standpoint inspired by Heidegger's thinking on technology. In the first part of the paper, I shall suggest an interpretation of Heidegger's thinking on the topic, and attempt to show why he associates modern technology with danger. However, I shall also claim that there is little evidence that medicine's appropriation of modern technology is dangerous in Heidegger's sense, although there is no prima facie reason why it mightn't be. The explanation for this, I claim, is ethical. There is an initial attraction to the thought that Heidegger's thought echoes Kantian moral thinking, but I shall dismiss this. Instead, I shall suggest that the considerations that make modern technology dangerous for Heidegger are simply not in the character - the ethos - of medicine properly understood. This is because there is a distinction to be drawn between chronological and historical modernity, and that even up-to-date medicine, empowered by technology, retains in its ethos crucial aspects of a historically pre-modern understanding of technology. A large part of the latter half of the paper will be concerned with explaining the difference.
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