Blogging Borgmann: TCCL Chapter 23, “Focal Things and Practices” and the Character of Contemporary Life (TCCL) by Albert Borgmann. The chapter’s meditation on things and practices, with its thoughtfully selected and well-developed examples, appeals to those who might not know Borgmann’s . This article considers the question of technology and the good life. It argues for a strong thematic connection between Albert Borgmann’s thought and Japanese.

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It contrasts with the consolation and vitality that generally result anv focal practices. Or the burden of letter-writing — gathering our thoughts, setting them down in a way that will be remembered and cherished and perhaps passed on to our grandchildren.

As soon as you have crossed the threshold, the burden disappears. Frank Miata July 7, at 8: The opinion of professionals in the communications world is divided.

Focal things include books, musical instruments, athletic equipment, good art, and the treasures of tings. Consider, for instance, the burden of preparing a meal and getting everyone to show up at the table and sit down. A simple jug by its shape and purpose discloses what it means to hold as well as to give.

It explains the intimate relationship between people, prqctices and technological devices, defining most economic relations and also shapes social and moral relations in general. Reading has perhaps a certain pride of place, but is nonetheless just one of a multiplicity of human activities that Borgmann terms focal things or practices — that can help us resist becoming pell-mell denizens of device paradigm.

And so ultimately the rule of technology, which we have been examining all these chapters, is stronger than any ad hoc willpower we ablert possess.

Technology and the Character of Contemporary Life: The convenience is almost irresistible, for as Borgmann writes, “the promise of technology is one of material and social liberty, the promise of disburdenment from the pains and limits of things and the claims and foibles of humans. Focal practices protect focal things from the intrusion of technology. Focal activities are also the basis of all group celebration: Because of our technological capabilities or our human xnd, we often stand over or against the world; coming into immediate contact with the world is therefore something special, and this happens in a meal: So what is it all about?


Is this a real risk? They are correlated to focal practices such as reading, reciting poetry, playing instruments, dining, walking, sporting activities, painting, sculpting, fishing, gardening, rock collecting, and so on.

Chicago Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. In a massive Pew Research Center study released this past February, a thousand communications professionals and philosophers were evenly split on the issue.

Melville, Thoreau, Pirsig, and Maclean are all helpful.

For instance, does the average family still play board games? This is in direct contrast to the general consolation and vitality that usually results from focal practices.

Focal things and practices

It took me some time to see that these 5 concepts are linked, with technological information being a demonstration of the trouble with the device paradigm, while natural and cultural information being part of focal things and practices more on these concepts below. Not all conveniences are healthy, and certain focal practices, ostensibly burdensome, should not be blithely abandoned without reflection: A place where there is respite from the striving for consumption and a restoration of the depth of the world.

Borgmann is concerned that human work today is often unfulfilling and our leisure is not ennobling, and that at a deep level, the culture knows this and is profoundly uneasy.

Engaging in focal practices like running or cultivating homemade meals is clearly possible for all of us to do even if only because our technological society has given us that opportunity! Christianity in the Culture of Technology. Borgmann analyses what occurs when we read: Social interaction is reduced and the family struggles to find activities that enable such nurturing and care for each other. According to Borgmann, the art of reading is an essential activity, fulfilling a fundamental human need: Don’t have an account?

Technology in society Concepts in social philosophy Philosophy of technology. The brain’s normal plasticity, he argues, can work for us and against us. They engage our better sides: Our focal practices today will differ from those of our pre-technological ancestors.


Heidegger tried to recover this givenness, finding it in simple, concrete artifacts like an earthenware jug. What we do know is that our technologies transform our lives — often dramatically. It is a focal activity that collects our world as a convex lens does and radiates back into our world as does a concave mirror. Essentially, we need through a cultivation of focal practices and political engagement to strip the gag from focal things and allow them to have a voice in deictic discourse.

Tag: Focal Things and Practices

God giving himself for the world. Now for the next stage — turning this into a paper…. Our technologies should be our tools, not our masters, putting the lie to McLuhan’s dictum “we make our tools and then our tools make us” — or at least minimizing that effect. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Literacy, while in on ongoing struggle with its more titillating competitors of the digital realm, remains an important means of recollection, silence and even wisdom.

Activities are embodied in persons—the dish and cook, the vegetable and gardener, etc… This meal is not characterized by consumption and anonymity.

The Recovery of “Focal Practices”

Practices remind us that focal goods, far from being delivered automatically whenever we engage in the practice, are hard-won, and all the more satisfying for remaining in the practicees despite albeet or long seasons without apparent advancement.

Why is reading so important to our minds and souls? It is the backdrop, the stage setting, not easily visible as a character itself. In pre-technological societies, they were often done so with some mythic purpose or backstory, showing how this particular practice enacts something we all know or desire to be true cosmically, for example as in the Eucharist, a practice established to commemorate not just a specific event but the cosmic reality that event signified: