Quipping Equipment: Apropos of Robots and Kantian Chatbots

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Robots, Bourdieu, Kant, and Sex – Coeckelbergh’s philosophy of technical assemblages has it all. This commentary considers his early work “on the linguistic construction of artificial others” in light of his later elaboration of a general theory of human-technology interaction. Coeckelbergh draws on “habitus”-theory, virtue ethics and a historically recontextualized Kantianism to propose nothing less than a new general moral philosophy for the technoscientific age. In so doing, he also conjures up something beguilingly elusive if not impossible – a pluralist personalism. Readers vested in pluralist accounts of agency and epistemic contingency will appreciate his invoking Bourdieu and Kant, thinkers prioritizing communalist over particularist interests. Readers of a personalist bent will welcome the voluntarism of his moral regimen – they like their reality served up in person-shaped bits, a perspective that prioritizes self-direction and self-possession. Two for the price of one: here everyone feels affirmed. Coeckelbergh appears to take the defining parameters of experience to be wholly contextual and, in equal measure, intrinsic. In squaring the circle, he also showcases a lurid scenario: sex with robots. The electrifying effect of this bold composition is to set the mind racing toward a position more coherent and less familiar than pluralist personalism. Central to this position is a conception of Gemüt as emergent reflexivity. Its consideration takes us via Immanuel Kant and Kant-Culture Research to such strange aberrations as corporate cannibalism and cyborg pillow talk. – This is one of six commentaries on a 2011-paper by Mark Coeckelbergh: “You, robot: on the linguistic construction of artificial others.” Coeckelbergh‘s response also appears in this issue of Technology and Language.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTechnology and Language
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)82-103
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 03.2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
4 See further publications listed here: Atoms of Confusion. Understanding source code misunderstanding, a grant supported by the National Science Foundation. https://atomsofconfusion.com/publications.html [retrieved 19.2.2022] 5 The relevance of implicit conventions and tacit knowledge as bases for cooperation is a main assumption of pragmatist symbolic interactionism in sociology, reflected in the title of Howard S. Becker’s (1986) book Doing Things Together. Tacit knowledge also constitutes a paradigm in economics (Favereau, 2019).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, St. Petersburg Polytechnic University of Peter the Great. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Science of art
  • Philosophy - Commodified agency, Gemüt, Kant-culture research, Digital cannibalism, Personalism, Kantbot