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" A Philosophy post-Fukushima ", 2nd Unit: Technology and Catastrophe

"A Philosophy post-Fukushima ", 2nd Unit:Technology and Catastrophe  

1  On September 24, the 2nd Unit hosted a 2nd conference of “A Philosophy of post-Fukushima” by Professor Nistani Osamu (Rikkyo University) titled “Technology and Catastrophe” at the Toyo University Hakusan Campus (Building 6, Meeting Room 3).

  Nishitani began his talk by touching on how greatly conditions changed before and after the March 11 disaster and raised a number of questions regarding the problem of Fukushima, which has been rendered banal in the three years since.

  The distinguishing characteristic of contemporary technology is that, in Nishitani’s words, it is part of a “technological-industrial-economic system.” That is, instead of retaining its former independence, it is developed in response to the demands of politics. Technology became a topic of philosophy after World War II. Confidence in the scientific rationalism that had underpinned the West in the modern period had been badly shaken after two world wars, and technology came to be discussed in terms of these circumstances it had been caught up in. In his important discourses on the subject, Martin Heidegger argues that technology as a product of modernity can be understood as something useful for humans to objectify nature. However, Heidegger’s critique of technology has been described as ending up as simply humans hearing technology’s “voice of Being,” and in contemporary French thought is discussed as a problem of catastrophe. The catastrophe of nuclear technology in particular is the tragedy that lies between an accident and its resolution. Introducing the arguments of Bernard Stiegler and Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Nishitani raised the question of how humans can be allowed to live without facing up to the technology that produced such a tragic accident. Humans do not live by themselves, but rather are able to find hope in essential relationships through the presence of other people, allowing them to live and die for the first time, Nishitani argued. Such relationships, he concluded, can be first brought into being by dismantling the technological-industrial-economic system.

  In the Q&A session that followed, numerous queries were posed to the speaker by both Center researchers and outside participants, resulting in an active and fruitful discussion.2