Law and Heidegger’s Question Concerning Technology: Prolegomenon to Future Law Librarianship

By Paul Callister.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Following World War II, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger offered one of the most potent criticisms of technology and modern life. His nightmare is a world whose essence has been reduced to the functional equivalent of “a giant gasoline station, an energy source for modern technology and industry. This relation of man to the world [is] in principle a technical one . . . . [It is] altogether alien to former ages and histories.” For Heidegger, the problem is not technology itself, but the technical mode of thinking that has accompanied it. Such a viewpoint of the world is a useful paradigm to consider humanity’s relationship to information in the current environment.

While the published paper that this presentation is based upon applies Heidegger’s criticisms to the legal information environment, the criticisms are applicable to all kinds of information from diverse disciplines. The lecture will also review the appropriateness of applying Heidegger’s model, especially given his experience with Nazism. Finally, the presentation will consider the implications for libraries in the modern information environment.

Keywords: Information Technology, Legal Information, Information and Society, Heidegger, Philosophy, Librarianship

International Journal of the Book, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.73-86. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 598.065KB).

Prof. Paul Callister

Library Director & Associate Prof. of Law, Leon E. Bloch Law Library, School of Law, University of Missouri - Kansas City, Kansas City, Missouri, USA

Professor Callister received his JD from Cornell and his MSLIS from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Besides being UMKC’s law library director, Callister is a tenured law faculty member and teaches Cyberlaw and Infosphere and Advanced Legal Research. His research includes the relationship of information environments to legal institutions and the rule of law. Callister was recently invited to contribute to an Aspatore Books series, Inside the Minds: The Changing Role of Academic Librarianship. In fall of 2007, Callister served as keynote speaker for the annual meeting of the Arab Federation for Libraries and Information, held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where he spoke on The Question Concerning Libraries. A similar presentation, resulting in a publication, was made per invitation at a symposium at Berkeley’s law school. In September of 2006, Professor Callister received the Brenner Faculty Publishing Award for Law's Box: Law, Jurisprudence and the Information Ecosphere. Paul D. Callister, 2007. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons .org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA. This article is an edited version of remarks delivered at Legal Information and the Development of American Law: Further Thinking about the Thoughts of Bob Berring, a symposium held at Boalt Hall on the University of California, Berkeley campus, Oct. 21, 2006. Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Leon E. Bloch Law Library, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. The author thanks Elizabeth Bach-Van Horn, Richard Danner, James E. Faulconer, Erin Lavelle, Nancy Levit, Travis McDade, and Yelena Shmidova for their excel-lent assistance and encouragement.

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