From the Question Concerning Technology to the Quest for a Democratic Technology: Heidegger, Marcuse, Feenberg
Andrew Feenberg’s most recent contribution to the critical theory of technology, Questioning Technology , is best understood as a synthesis and extension of the critiques of technology developed by Heidegger and Marcuse. By thus situating Feenberg’s endeavor to articulate and preserve a meaningful sense of agency in our increasingly technologized lifeworld, I show that some of the deepest tensions in Heidegger and Marcuse’s relation re-emerge within Feenberg’s own critical theory. Most significant here is the fact that Feenberg, following Marcuse, exaggerates Heidegger’s ‘fatalism’ about technology. I contend that this mistake stems from Feenberg’s false ascription of a technological ‘essentialism’ to Heidegger. Correcting this and several related problems, I reconstruct Feenberg’s ‘radical democratic’ call for a counter-hegemonic democratization of technological design, arguing that although this timely and important project takes its inspiration from Marcuse, in the end Feenberg remains closer to Heidegger than his Marcuseanism allows him to acknowledge.
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