Hawk, Byron. “Toward a Post-Techne-Or, Inventing Pedagogies for Professional Writing.” TCQ 13:4, 371-92.

  • ’s article examines techne with respect to situatedness. For Hawk, techne is “conceieved as techniques for situating bodies in contexts” (371). Hawk relies on Heideggarian readings of techne.
  • According to H., recent scholarship in the field links techne, technology, the technical and technique to rerender techne not as a skill but as something more, a node embedded in a complex set of relations . . . an ecology (372).
  • A key point: the posthuman take on techne that Hawk advocates isn’t a disintegration/abandonment of the human but a recognition, a la Hayles, that we have always already been posthuman . . . we’re just now recognizing the complexity.
  • The problem with techne, and invention, traditionally conceived: invention “is under control or will of the subject, which forecloses open-ended invention that emerges out of complex adaptive systems” (373).
  • Hawk wants to situated techne or his post-techne in the space of pattern in randomness – as opposed to the subject/object/presence/autonomy realm – to highlight the complex ecologies of institutions, technologies, and (human) bodies (373). This happens in invention, and Hawk hopes t better integrate humans with technological and institutional environments through his revisioning of techne as post-techne.
  • Heidegger’s position: technological domination enmeshes the subject in complex networks of relations that influence and are influenced by the body. This is a “ready-to-hand” orientation to objects (as opposed to a presence-at-hand orientation). This extends beyond the usefulness of a given thing for humans; rather, it is about the relation of any given thing to another thing. As such, humans (Heideggarian daesin) are on “an equal plane” with other objects/bodies in the world(s) (373).
  • Heidegger doesn’t end up arguing for the typical binary of 1) technology; and 2) art. Rather, he notes that art is “the saying of the world and earth” that occurs in expressions of relation, not subjectivities (374). In this sense, techne is a way of seeing and being that sees humans as relations in the world – beautiful relations.
  • The tripartite scheme that Hawk is working at/through techne: 1) the instrumentalist version of technology sees it as something that humans use to secure/fix/regulate objects; 2) the humanist/subjectivist view of aesthetics fixes artisic value in objects “out there”. Both the versions are guilty of a subject/object organizing principle. Instead, Hawk wants to argue for “high-techne” or the “artistic practice that emerges from a constellation of humans, technology, culture, and the world that ‘continually breaks things free of a stable context or fixed representation, representing them instead as a part of an ongoing process or movement’” (376). For Hawk, making this move unhinges technology from instrumentality and challenges the link between art and aesthetic value.
  • Hawk, relying on Hayles, gives this defintion of posthumanism: “locating thought and action in the complexity of distributed cognitive environments” (377).
  • How to get out of the agency trap: (i.e., humans have no agency in a relational environment, especially when tech is elevated [antihumanism]): agency is transformed into the ability to exert a sense of productive ability relationally, not autonomously. I wonder if this isn’t just a dodge or if that dodge is the point itself.
  • argues that “A posthuman understanding of techne would mean that teachers accept the ecological and ambient nature of rhetorical situations and begin to develop techniques for simultaneously enacting and operating in these complex, evolving contexts. Such a post-techne would follow Heidegger in viewing technique as a way of – a method for – revealing consteallations or ecological realities within these situations” (379).
  • If we adopt the ambient perspective, Hawk wonders, 1) if agency is diminished b/c of a diminishment of the subject, what is the nature of agency/power in this new configuration; and 2) can the techniques we use as teachers to help students practice a posthumanist techne be transferable from one learning context to another? (379)
  • The four causes that work together to give physis power in ecological situations (via Aristotle): 1) material – what a thing is made of; 2) efficient – the agent or beginning or source that brings a thing to existence; 3) formal – the thing’s abstract nature/design; and 4) final – the thing’s final purpose or aim (380). Working from Aristotle, H. argues that taking material, formal and final causes together allows for the emergence of the efficient cause – the agent (ibid.).
  • Nature, or physis, can be a source of agency for techne inasmuch as the spontaneity and chance associated with invention outside of a humanist paradigm allows for a complex set of relations . . . agenic physis.
  • Hawk relies on Atwill’s notion of techne as 1) never static; 2) never identified with a normative subject; and 3) the capacity or power to transgress boundaries as a way of thinking about techne as a posthuman heuristic. According to Hawk, this way of thinking techne puts a body into a situation and operates “on the occasionality and spontaneity of physis (381). She also relies on Haynes work on mapping Kairos as a means of invention designed to draw attention to a body’s (or object’s) situatedness in a context.
  • Hawk’s criteria for a post-techne heuristic: 1) place a body in a situation; 2) utilize the power of that situation; and 3) enact ambient elements of that situation in the service of invention (383). This is a situation-bound notion of techne (informed by an inherent Gorgianic connection to kairos) that isn’t driven by the subject but the situation . . . this is important for how we think about teaching, obvi.
  • Two orders of techniques at work in this post-techne: 1) student-oriented heuristics that harness the power of situations; and 2) the techniques students invent to address the first point (384). From a professional writing perspective, Hawk relies on Henry to structure courses thusly: 1) map the institutional dig; 2) uncover discursive shards; 3) link to other shards and sites; and 4) intervene in and reform discursive formations (386).
  • The post-techne orientation that Hawk advocates here is particuarly useful in organizational/professional contexts that are increasingly networked and subject to rapid change. Making interventions through inventions in such contexts requires this kind of ecological orientation. The subject and the situation are coinventive.
  • Important distinctions in Hawk’s article:

Hawk 1

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