Monthly Archives: May 2010

Latour vs Heidegger (again!!!)

I’m currently battling with Heidegger and Latour and find their philosophical positions reminiscent of the ‘leap of faith’ vs agnosticism argument.  So why should I be drawn into the etymology of being and technology when the subject and object of my PhD is a contemporary snake-arm robot and peoples (future) interactions with it? I’m not interested in whether the snake-arm robot has thingness or not, I don’t care if robots or things have some excess or residue outside of the relational world as Heidegger would have it. Im far more interested in their (possible) agency within the relational world of human-robot interaction, particularly where they actually help people in an ethical context. The dichotomy however, intensifies as I read more Heidegger and his interpreters (Harman etc) – the philosophy becomes ever more provocative. (He was still a nasty little Nazi though!) 

Sheesh – more roundabout reading required!

Source: (Graham Harman)

Template for personalised hybrid companion robot perhaps?

Even includes a Q-method style questionnaire for subjective design input!

Your robotic Daemon could begin ‘digital’ life as a wi-fi enabled baby listener with remote controlled recording capabilities and a removable hard drive or ‘digital brain’ which stores the memories of a lifetime. As unique personal (medical, cognitive etc) ‘social’ and work requirements are identified both hardware and software are upgraded accordingly, continually transforming the robotic hybrid for your own unique needs & pleasure – throughout your life. The possibilities and potential are limitless – Human & Robot Geographies will never be the same again?

Your embodied soul in a companion robot – wow? – 🙂


Heraclitus, Parmenides, and a rabbi walk into a bar engaged in rapid-fire conversation. They order a round of drinks from the young bartender, who happens to be a post-grad student in Human Geography working his way through university at the student pub. The trio continues their animated discussion over several rounds. 

The bartender can scarcely believe his ears as he overhears the men, as he comes to realise who the Greeks are; and he is astonished at the rupture in the space-time continuum before him. But, most of all, aghast at the company the rabbi is keeping, the bartender, after hours of silence, suddenly interjects, “Don’t you know these two are Nazis? They are well known companions of the insidious Nazi philosopher Heidegger!”

To which the rabbi replies, “A little gelassenheit goes a long way, you putz. Let Heidegger be. He is what he is.” 

Agitated, the bartender replies, “But as a Jew, how can you say that?

Heidegger never once spoke against the Holocaust!” To which the impatient rabbi replies, “So I’m a Jew. Leave me alone. I am what I am.” 

Furious, the bartender exclaims, “Blasphemy! How dare you assert that you are identical with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! You claim no less when you say that your essence is your existence!” 

Parmenides smiles at this outburst and says, “This man *is* a Thomist!”

He takes notice of the “Graduate Student Society: Philosophy” t-shirt the bartender is wearing and remarks, “No doubt he is an A student, so fluent in all the correct questions and correct answers!” (He speaks the word “correct” both times with thick irony.) 

Heraclitus laughs and says, “Careful, Parmenides! The man whom you say is a Thomist can be in one moment a politically correct dupe, in another moment a strident Thomist, and, for all you know, in the next moment, a Nietzschean superman. No, his youthful flow from one fashionable idea to the next is a hopelessly ordinary phenomenon. As such, as completely average, he cannot possibly have any more than a C average!” 

Suddenly the rabbi notices for the first time a Nazi flag hanging on the wall behind the bar. “What is that?!” exclaims the rabbi. “What with all your self-righteousness, that flag is there?!” 

“That’s actually a critique of National Socialism,” smiles the bartender. “I had to join the party, briefly, in order to get that flag, but I quit soon after and, if you have the eyes to see, you’ll notice that I am a staunch critic of National Socialism. You’ll notice the flag is flown upside down!” 

“A clever answer,” replies the rabbi, “but you’ll have to do better than that to keep my business. Parmenides, Heraclitus, come with me. We’re leaving!” 

The trio gets up and begins to walk away. As they head for the door, the bartender shouts out, “Rabbi, wait! Before you go, answer me two questions. Firstly the question of my grade point average. Parmenides asserts I am an A student, Heraclitus maintains I am a C. And you?” 

“You are neither average nor exceptional,” says the rabbi. “You clearly learnt to think a little something about the great philosopher Heidegger; but even though you repudiate him you are still under his sway. Therefore you obviously are a B student.” The rabbi turns to his drinking buddies. “But enough of this tedious question of your B-ing,” he says gleefully, nodding to his chuckling companions as they open the door for him. “We are leaving. What is your second question?” 

“Here is your tab,” says the bartender, waving it above his head. “You cannot leave without paying. So who’s buying?” 

The rabbi, smiling, looks at Parmenides and Heraclitus, both of whom tell him, with protesting glances, that they are dirt-poor philosophers, manifestly broke. “Questioning is the piety of thinking,” answers the rabbi, “So I will leave you, the thinking student, with your question unanswered. Perhaps you may ask God for the answer.” The rabbi, laughing with his friends, turns and begins walking out the door. 

“So only a god can save me now!” laughs the bartender. “Your God?” he shouts out after the rabbi. “Will the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob give me my money?” 

The rabbi stops, turns around, looks at the bartender, and shrugs. “It gives!”