Technology as Skill and Activity: Revisiting the problem of Alienation

Mark Coeckelbergh

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Can we conceive of a philosophy of technology that is not technophobic, yet takes seriously the problem of alienation and human meaning-giving? This paper retrieves the concern with alienation, but brings it into dialogue with more recent philosophy of technology. It defines and responds to the problem of alienation in a way that avoids both old-style human-centered approaches and contemporary thing-centered or hybridity approaches. In contrast to the latter, it proposes to reconcile subject and object not at the ontic level but at the ontological, transcendental level and at the level of skilled activity. Taking inspiration from Dreyfus’s reading of Heidegger and engaging critically with the work of Borgmann and Arendt, it explores a phenomenology and ethics of skill. It is concluded that new and emerging technologies must be evaluated not only as artifacts and their consequences, but also in terms of the skills and activities they involve and require. Do they promote engagement with the world and with others, thus making us into better persons?
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)208-230
    JournalTechné: Research in Philosophy and Technology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Philosophy of technology
    • Alienation
    • Phenomenology
    • Ethics
    • Skill
    • Virtue


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