Volume 13, Issue 3, Fall 2009
The Public Thing
On the Idea of a Politics of Artefacts
Is there a politics of artifacts, and if so, what does it mean? Defining the issue as a problem about the relation between the human and the non-human, I argue that our common philosophical concepts bar us from an adequate understanding of this problem. Using the work of Hannah Arendt and Bruno Latour, I explore an escape route that involves a radical redefinition of the social. But the cost of this solution is high: we would lose the metaphysical foundation for our belief in the absolute value and dignity of humans. We should pay that prize only if we gain a better understanding of what we are doing and what we want to do together – with things.