14 Pages

Part III: PeoPle and thIngs Introduction: Humanity in Design

WithPeter-Paul Verbeek

How to conceptualize what is going on between humans and things? As evident as this question may sound from the perspective of Design Anthropology, in the history of philosophy and social theory it has not been a self-evident question at all. In fact, one could even say that much of Western philosophy can be characterized by a horror materiae (cf. Verbeek 2005). Preoccupied with ideas, material things all too often disappear from the philosophical radar. Yet, there are positive exceptions. Especially in the philosophy of technology, much energy is devoted to conceptualizing the social roles of technological artefacts, and the relations between human beings and technologies. These relations are intricate and multifaceted: one cannot understand the one without taking the other into account. On the one hand, material artefacts are the product of processes of human design. At the same time, though, these artefacts play an important role in how we interact, how we move, how we behave and how we experience and interpret the world around us. Humans shape things, and things shape humans.