Metaphysics in a Black Hole: Technology and the Unfathomable

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Siobhan Lyons


Voltaire stated in 1764 that “almost everything is imitation”, a line of thinking which would endure throughout philosophy. Over 200 years later, a similar sentiment was made by Guy Debord in The Society of the Spectacle in 1967, by which time imitation had, for Debord, become reality: “all that was once directly lived has become mere representation”. The intermediary role that technology plays in our relationship with reality has been the focus of many philosophers, including Martin Heidegger, Don Ihde, Hubert Dreyfus and Albert Borgmann, all of whom are discussed in this paper. While scientific discourse often treats technology as a pillar of precision that promises greater access to an essential reality—as evidenced by the first image of a black hole in 2019—philosophers remain anxious about technology’s alienating effects. From Galileo’s telescope and the desire to replace the human eye, to the “appification” of everyday life, this paper explores the metaphysical tensions that plague science and technology as instruments for retrieving a “lost” reality, and the limits of depicting the world—and the universe—through technology.

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Lyons, S. (2020). Metaphysics in a Black Hole: Technology and the Unfathomable. Humanities Bulletin, 3(2), 127–139. Retrieved from

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