University of Twente Student Theses


A religious dimension of technology : technological mediation and Voyager 1

Burdick, Mark (2014) A religious dimension of technology : technological mediation and Voyager 1.

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Abstract:How can technological mediation be used to understand the religious dimension of technology? This question, too large for a master thesis in part because it has been discussed very little in academic literature, acted as the point of departure but quickly became more focused to a single case study meant to illuminate the way for future study. I began with an examination of an empirical and pragmatic investigation into the nature of religion through William James and his classic Varieties of Religious Experience because I would end up, similarly, with an empirical approach but through technological mediation. In doing so, I discovered an elephant in the room which is the relation of science and religion. I would have been avoiding an obvious point of contention had I ignored the fact I was using science to study religion so instead of tip-­‐toing around these conflicts I chose a technology which would enable me to address it head on. So enters Voyager 1, a scientific instrument with purposefully embedded spiritual connotations. Further still, the artifact’s lead designer wrote a text which was a mirror reflection of James classic text, Sagan’s Varieties of Scientific Experience. These varieties of Varieties acted as the basis for thought about worldviews in between the religion and science poles since James used science to understand religion while Sagan used religion to understand science. The philosophical approach of technological mediation, void of loyalty to either domain, yet sharing James’ empiricism and concentration on experience enabled Voyager 1 and Sagan’s intentions to be put under a conceptual microscope. Small decisions and elements could be examined in terms of their macroscopic implications.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:08 philosophy
Programme:Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society MSc (60024)
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