Conference Panel Presentation: The Roots of Technological Prosthesis and Hope in Foucault’s Care of Self

I had the opportunity to be part of a panel presentation for the Society for Pscyhoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology, Division 39. The title for our panel was “Technological Prosthesis: Transcending Finitude and the Trauma of Death” and Matthew Clemente, David Goodman, Eric Severson along with myself were the panelists. We presented virtually on April 10, 2022.

Here were my four main points:

First, as we have seen, cultural and philosophical phenomena loudly proclaim technology as a way of transcending the human experience. Do we hear any murmurs of discomfort about this idea in other films? Examples: Gravity, Ad Astra

Second, this turn to technology as a savior arises out of a reduced understanding of human subjectivity. A fuller understanding of subjectivity can be seen through a Foucault’s historical tracing of the idea of “care of self.”

Third, the roots of the technological prosthesis comes out of a reduction of “care of self” to “knowledge of self” which takes place in modernity. This is what gives rise to a consideration of humans as disembodied acquirers of knowledge, who can be enhanced by technological means.

Fourth, let’s consider now (1) examples of everyday technologies that are mistakenly used in an attempt to transcend human experience and (2) examples of everyday technologies which allow for the possibility of proper self-care.

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