Some of us are always mulling over Heidegger’s section on tool being. Not slate.com. In today’s piece on “natural scrolling” they tell us the real difference between vorhanden and zuhanden.
natural scrolling made my head hurt. The pleasant experience of working on my Mac became a mental chore akin to walking upstairs backward. I gave natural scrolling a try for three days and then turned it off. (Lion, thankfully, does at least allow you to change the default setting.) As I later learned, all of this was sort of discussed by Heidegger. The German philosopher wrote about the concepts of readiness-to-hand and unreadiness-to-hand that influenced the field of artificial intelligence. When we use a hammer to drive nails, the hammer becomes an extension of our hand. We “see through” the hammer to do the job we need to do. But if the hammer feels funny or the head wiggles, we become aware of the hammer. We are no longer “coping skillfully with the world.”
In Being and Time, the story ends slightly differently, as the worldedness of the hammer becomes explicable through its brokenness. I guess Mac OS Lion has made some improvements since then. “Lion, thankfully, does at least allow you to change the default setting.”