chapter  5
32 Pages

All about Language

Postmodern Interpretations, or the Muting of Humans and Technology
WithMark Coeckelbergh

In 20th-century thinking, there has been a poststructuralist and postmodern current that emphasized the autonomy of language to such an extent that it became difficult to give technology a place at all, or even the human. Interestingly, Heidegger’s view of language is very similar to Heidegger’s view of technology: Technology is not a mere instrument, but is also a way of revealing. Whether or not it is justified to label them as “postmodern,” Derrida’s writings are famous for a focus on signs, reading and writing, (con)text and discourse, and, hence, language. His method of ‘deconstruction’ is a response to linguistics, in particular structuralist theories of language. Borrowing from Wittgenstein, Lyotard wrote about metanarratives and “language games” to emphasize that there are many systems and communities of meaning. An exception in the world of poststructuralism and postmodernism is the work of Paul Virilio, who can and has been interpreted as a (post) phenomenological thinker and who explicitly wrote about technology.