Ashley Wong


Workshop (20 Nov 2021): Technology and The State: The 200th anniversary of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

Saturday, 20 November 2021
9am-2pm CET / 4pm-9pm HKT
Online event: Register to join via Zoom
Facebook Event

Yuk Hui (City University of Hong Kong)
Gregory S. Moss (Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Milan Stürmer (Leuphana University)

Joel Bock (De Paul University, US)
Anna Winckelmann (Higher School of Economics, RU)
Christoph Görlich (Leuphana University, DE)
Armin Schneider (Humboldt University, DE)
Fernando Wirtz (University of Tübingen, DE)
Anna Longo (Collège International de Philosophie, FR)

One of the subjects that seems to be still under-explored in Hegel’s philosophy is the question of technology. We understand that it is only with the Industrial Revolution that technological consciousness entered into philosophy. Although the Elements of the Philosophy of Right were written in 1821 and Hegel witnessed the use of machinery in factories, the concept of ‘machine’ remains a stereotype opposed to the ‘organic’. Mechanism is presented as something below chemistry and biology in terms of the level of organisation and self-determination of the concept in both the Encyclopedia and Science of Logic, though the concept of ‘absolute mechanism’ can be read as a mechano-organismic structure and operation.

Beyond this opposition between the mechanistic and the organic, which is shared by the romantics and other idealists, there is another dimension of technology irreducible to mechanism. Technology expresses itself as a general tendency of externalisation or alienation (Entäußerung) and the power of negation. Retrospectively, we know that a student of Hegel, Ernst Kapp, developed the concept of organ projection to describe technical inventions in his Grundlinien einer Philosophie der Technik (1877), and that the Hegelian scholar Gotthart Günther characterises Hegel as a proto-cyberneticist or, in other words, cybernetics as realising Hegel’s logic. The question of technology in Hegel is manifold and remains to be clarified. The pandemic announced the return of the state equipped with an advanced automation and surveillance system, one which is simultaneously beyond Hegel’s description in 1821, while making Hegel’s writing appear only more relevant today.

Supported by:
Research Network for Philosophy and Technology
Cosmotechnics Research Unit, City University of Hong Kong


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