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Philosophy of Technology

We live in an age of unprecedented technological development in which daily life is re-invented at an ever-increasing rate. What were fantasies of science fiction a few decades ago (the colonisation of Mars, recreational space travel, portable super computers, artificial intelligence, facial recognition software, nanorobotics) are now reality or are currently under development.

The Futures of Technology: Philosophical Perspectives

While this technological progress has revolutionised campaigns for human rights, the struggle against fatal diseases, and our means of communication, it has also played a significant role in contemporary challenges such as climate disaster, fake news, mental health crises, and increased inequality.

In such an extreme period of development and transformation, there is perhaps no better time for philosophy and its question par excellence: why?–– or in a more provocative form, where to? Towards which futures are today’s conceptions of development building towards?

This kind of questioning offers a change of speed to our normal approaches to the world, in turn providing a small but important change of perspective. We will try to exploit this philosophical critical distance as we follow two interrelated questions:

1) What is technology?

2) How should technology be?

In order to prepare ourselves to respond to these questions, we will turn to the history of philosophy and critical theory, including: Aristotle, Rousseau, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida, Simondon, Hayles,
Haraway, Preciado, and Stiegler.

This intensive reading of primary sources will be supplemented by student presentations, guest lecturers, and a final research project. This course will function as a seminar in the full sense meaning that students will be invited to contribute to a lively discussion in which daily experiences and thoughts concerning technology in society are brought into dialogue with the texts being discussed, both being understood as integral components of the learning experience. Through our readings and discussions we will see how the question of what technology is, is bound with the ethical question of how it should be, or how the future towards which it builds, which has ramifications on human and non-human life, ought to be.

About the lectures

De voertaal van dit programma is Engels.

The credit value of active participation in the PRE-programme is 30 studielasturen.


Please note: this PRE-Class will be offered online. 

Registration and admission

Who can apply?
This course is designed for curious and motivated students of 5 and 6 vwo.

Write a letter of intent to tell us about yourself and, in particular, why you would like to take part in this programme. Please restrict your letter, in English, to about 300 words or one page of A4. The deadline for signing up is in the beginning of November, before 09:00 AM. Check out Aanmelding & selectie for more information.

The maximum number of students selected for the programme will be 25. 


For any questions regarding this class, you can contact Donovan Stewart, lecturer of this PRE-Class or Esrih Bakker, coordinator of the Pre-University Classes.

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