Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crowell, Stephen Galt. Interview with Laureano Ralon, FIGURE / GROUND June 22, 2011.

I think a lot of work in philosophy is phenomenological even if it doesn’t fly under that banner – work in moral psychology, philosophy of mind, and epistemology, to give just a few examples. Phenomenology is committed to the analysis of first-person experience, and while this is not the only approach possible to the problems of “this age of information and digital interactive media,” of course, there are certain questions that it is best in a position to address. For instance, what is meant by “information”? There are a great many theories out there that appeal to this notion, but can it really do the work it is expected to do? There are theories that try to account for our awareness of a world of meaningful things – that is, intentionality as consciousness of something as something – in terms of information processing, but phenomenology has developed some trenchant criticisms of this project: information is not intrinsically norm-governed, whereas meaning is. To study the conditions of meaning, then (which are also the conditions that make us able to recognize something as “information” or as a “digitally interactive medium” and to appreciate their essential relations to one another, such as they are), is to stumble, inevitably, into phenomenology at some point. And at that point, everything depends on whether one does it well or badly. Of course, one might want to be reductive about the concept of meaning, but phenomenology has also laid out some pretty good reasons why such a project must fail. . . .

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