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“Pragmatist Aesthetics and the Experience of Technology”

I’ve long harbored deep interest and affection for technology. But my heart is changing, increasingly tempted toward skepticism and hostility toward many new technologies. This paper investigates Personal Information Technology's (PIT) effects upon our basic practices; it argues that it is fundamentally changing the experience underlying practice. In effect, technology has created a “problematic situation” for much of ordinary experience. What is that problem? How should it be described? What might be done? These are my basic questions. My main theoretical lens is a pragmatist account of experience, including aesthetics. My answer has four parts. (1) Sherry Turkle’s work illustrates facts, impacts, and concerns with PIT. (2) Pragmatists explicate differences between primary and secondary experience, and nuanced ways to analyze primary experience. (3) These are then connected to pragmatist aesthetics. Finally, (4) it is argued that pragmatist aesthetics can provide new norms for technologies altering experience in contemporary life.

David Hildebrand
University of Colorado Denver
United States


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