The Engineering Person : Arendt and an Anthropology of Engineering Ethics

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för kulturantropologi och etnologi

Abstract: In this thesis Hannah Arendt’s theories of science and technology are applied in an ethnographic study of engineering ethics. Seeking to gain further understanding of Arendt’s thoughts, her concepts of The Archimedean Point and Earth Alienation is applied in interviews with engineering students in Sweden’s Uppsala University. The purpose directing this study is thus twofold, it is an attempt to anthropologize Arendt’s thoughts of science and technology, and to further understand engineering’s ethical engagement. The study identifies a dynamic where engineering students create dichotomous mentalities. One mentality is engineering’s demand of a desubjectified instrumental rationality in inherent contradiction to an ethical consciousness, this mentality can be identified as Arendt’s Archimedean Point. In conflict to this mentality lies the intersubjectivity of a socio-politically engaged student concerned with engineering’s ability to create evil. This study makes the claim that Uppsala University’s student traditions and culture encourage the second mentality and forms an important resource for ethical engagement among students.

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