For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Degrowth by means of technology? A treatise for an ethos of releasement"

by Heikkurinen, Pasi (2018)


The large-scale ecological damage caused by growth societies calls for economic degrowth in terms of a radical decrease in matter/energy throughput. This article examines the role of modern technology in degrowth with a focus on the question of agency and its ethical implications. After conceptualising technology as practice, the paper finds that while technological practice encompasses an agency for social change, it is restricted to transforming the non-human world to human-made objects. This is because in technological practice the world and its objects unfold as a standing-reserve for human use. Due to this calculative and anthropocentric thinking, technological practice does not and cannot support the emergence of a kind of agency that either does or can let things be. Moreover, the more technological the practice, the more objects are utilised. The paper concludes that technological practice does not support the transition to degrowth, because it directs its agents towards the continuous transformation of non-human-made objects into human-made objects resulting in an increase in cumulative throughput. The paper thus suggests that an ethos of releasement is needed to attain, as well as to live in, a degrowth society. The rationale provided for refraining from the technological practice in order to contribute to ecologically sensible social change is the chief contribution of this paper.

Key Passage

For Heidegger, this mystery is‘ hidden in the technological world’ and hence ‘humanity on Earth remains in danger of technology so beguiling that calculative thinking remains the only sort of thinking in use, the only sort of thinking that counts’. Only with meditative (rather than calculative) thinking, human agents can release themselves from technological practice and create spaces for new modes of relating, closer to Being itself. (p.1660)


Degrowth, Ethics, Practice, Releasement, Sustainability, Technology, Heidegger


Technology, On Heidegger, Degrowth

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