The Self and Identity in Techonological Times

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:00 PM
Room: F206
Oral Presentation
Mariolina GRAZIOSI , Dipartimento di Scienze sociali, politiche ed economiche, University of Milan, milano, Italy

The self and identity in technological times


I intend to explore the impact of technology on the formation of the self and identity. The Italian philosopher Umberto Galimberti, in his book Psyche and Techne (1999), maintains that it is no longer accurate to speak of alienation. When  Marx advanced his concept of alienation in capitalist society man was still a subject who could imagine new horizons. Today, the domination of technology has reached a point where the relationship between man and technology has been reversed: technology is the subject and man is the predicate. In this new situation, it is not correct to speak of alienation but rather of identification with technology. In a world totally generated by technical equipment, according to Galimberti, man is an official of this apparatus and his identity coincides with his function. Thus, man is himself only if he is functional to the other, technology (1999).  In the light of Galimberti’s thesis, can we still speak of a reflexive identity developed in contemporary society, as the sociologist Antony Giddens does? Furthermore, can we still believe, as the existential philosophers Sartre and De Beauvoir did in the seventies, that identity is a project and coincides with subjectivity? Moreover, what becomes of the self?  If identity coincides with function, the self is totally withdrawn, and the difference between interior and external life is suppressed.  Naturally, this creates a psychological and sociological pathology that Marcuse denounced when he spoke of the one-dimensional man. Galimberti speaks of the death of the psyche because what is enhanced are the intellectual abilities while emotions are disregarded (1999).