The Pressing Need to Realize the Value of Slowing Down

people running across cliff with clock in the middle.

Times change and we with time.


Now that the summer is just a memory, and I am stuck in the traffic, I realize how I am suffering from time pathologies!

The impatience of waiting in traffic – hurry sickness – are symptoms of our accelerating lives, embedded in our thoughts and behaviors from technology.

My reflection bring me back to this summer, in July, when the School of Nursing sponsored our first (and very successful) International Institute for Hermeneutic Phenomenology. 

What is hermeneutic phenomenology?

Hermeneutic phenomenology is a methodology used in the scholarship of nursing and other disciplines to explicate interpretations of shared meanings and common practices to understand human situations as they are experienced, such as cancer care, intimate partner violence and use of technologies to support life.   

Kevin Aho, our resident guest philosopher, visited the school for four days to discuss Heideggarian philosophy in the context of Acceleration, Technology and Health Care. Scholars from across the country and globe with varying backgrounds (nursing, sociology, philosophy) came together at UB to explore the concept of acceleration and the need for reflection in our lives. 

What is acceleration? Kevin Aho explains:

Acceleration captures the ways in which our everyday life involves a relation to speed, a frenzied tempo or ‘mania’ embodied in the current tendency of "not-being-able-to-bear the stillness"(Heidegger, 1999: 84) ... Thrown into a harried world, we are so nervous, so sped up that we become indifferent, unable to qualitatively distinguish which choices, commitments, and obligations are significant or matter to us.

(Want to know more? Check out Aho's paper, "Acceleration and Time Pathologies: The Critique of Psychology in Heidegger’s Beiträge.")

Heidegger referred to acceleration as one of the signature symptoms of our technological age. I reflect on how wonderful it was to have a group of scholars gather and discuss our work and recognize the need for all of us to slow down and learn to let go of the hurriedness to focus on what matters.

The Institute was originally created by Nancy Diekelmann from Wisconsin Madison in the 1990s to discuss philosophical texts that underpin our research. For years, the gathering moved around the country -- Madison, Wisconsin; Farifax, Virginia; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Denver, Colorado – and this year it landed in Buffalo. This international scholarly community uses phenomenology to investigate the meaning of health and illness.

Next year, Kevin will return to talk about aging, and all are welcome. Not only will we have time to think and talk, but we will again explore Buffalo, the food, the people and the energy found at Canalside and Niagara Falls.

Stay tuned for more information.

group photo of conference attendees.

International Institute for Hermeneutic Phenomenology at the University at Buffalo, July 2018.


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