University of Hertfordshire

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Harmonising physis and techne: The mediating role of philosophy

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

  • L. Floridi
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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
Pages (from-to)1-3
JournalPhilosophy and Technology
Journal publication date1 Mar 2011
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2011


An interesting way of looking at the history of cultures is in terms of the increasing distance of human life from the natural course of events, thanks to an everthickening layer of technological mediations. A culture (not necessarily a good
culture, let alone a civilization) emerges when a society is able to detach itself from the physical world (physis), and generate sufficient resources to express itself with some stability. From the division of labour to sheer oppression, from the invention of tools to the creation of weapons, there must be at least a fissure between surviving and living, where the seeds of a culture can take root non-ephemerally. A culture
therefore can be pre-historical (no recordings) but hardly pre-technological; “hardly” because, exceptionally, such breaking away from physis may be achievable by barehanded individuals in unaided contexts. In theory, nothing prevents extraordinary people from planting some cultural seeds even when life is flattened into survival twodimensionally, here and now. In practice, however, cultures tend to emerge and flourish
only behind the dam provided by some techne. Even embittered stylites need pillars on which to stand, and peasants to bring food.


“The original publication is available at” Copyright Springer [Full text of this editorial is not available in the UHRA]

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