chapter  8
35 Pages

Using and Performing with Words and Things

WithMark Coeckelbergh

This chapter constructs, interprets, criticizes, and revises three “extreme,” ideal-type positions, with regard to who or what “speaks”. Technologies are seen as instruments to reach human ends. There is an unbridgeable distance between subject and object, and between humans and things. Social constructivism is right to see artefacts as socially constructed, as being the outcome of a social process, but the social should be interpreted as crucially involving language. When technological artefacts shape our world, they do so together with language. Both words and things make us see and do differently; both language and technology mediate our relation to the environment. Human performance and practice always involves hermeneutics. In use and performance, words and things are interpreted in new ways. There are processes of contacting and touching, processes in which subject and object touch, entangle, and contaminate one another. Words and tools, language and technology, are part of these processes, mediate these processes, and make possible these processes.