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 who prioritize 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 wins. 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 a collection of critical commentaries on Mark Coeckelbergh‘s paper, followed by his brief response in this issue of Technology and Language.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTechnology and Language
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)82-103
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Special Topic: The Construction of the Robot in Language and Culture

    Research areas

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