As We May Be Doing Philosophy: Informationalism – A New Regime for Philosophy?

Daniel Apollon

Abstract


Philosophy, seen as an activity, has in the course of history involved all available means of human linguistic expression. While Plato was highly critical of writing as constituting the best "technology of the mind", diverse forms of written expression by means of texts have been the regime of expression under which philosophy has thrived. While oral communication (speech) has been viewed as "natural language", written language and notational systems have departed gradually from "naturalness" and specialized into a variety of tools, some of them (e.g., formal languages, logic and algebraic notation) moving light-years away from what is understood as "fluent speech". This paper assumes that philosophy and the philosopher have been living under a variety of regimes. Some of these regimes are rather abstract and affect the core of philosophical activity. Other regimes predominantly affect the way of expressing and carrying out a philosophical activity. In any case, philosophers have used a limited set of text-bound intellectual technologies. When Vanevar Bush published his visionary paper "As we may think" in 1945, he outlined an information and communication technology which would serve the purpose of amplifying the intellectual capacity of mankind by means of a highly interconnected network called memex. Now, in 2007, the hypertextuality of the Web and new emerging "semantic tools" (e.g., "ontologies") offer philosophers such practical tools. And, as humanity moves from the Gutenberg age into a fully networked information culture, philosophy follows. The pervasive spread of globalized, networked information and communication technologies and cultures re-actuates the issue of the specificity of philosophy in culture and society. Will the paradigm of "informationalism" impose a new regime on philosophy?

Keywords


20th century philosophy; media philosophy; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; computer ontology; conceptual engineering; engineerable metaphysics; informational substantialism; informationalism; Castells Manuel; Deleuze Gilles; posthuman informationalism

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