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Next: Phil's reference Up: J. C. Nyíri: The Previous: In the essay ...

Christoph - I decided to take a night off work ...

Christoph - I decided to take a night off work and read and think about your paper and other materials you sent to me. I thoroughly enjoyed your paper. I can also understand your present unease about the paper's presuppositions about knowledge. I am generally of the opinion that what counts as ``knowledge'' and how we think about ``unifying knowledge'' is shaped rather decisively by the technology which we develop and use to acquire and promulgate knowledge. Clearly, we now are in a transitional place as we shift rapidly into a culture more dependent on digital technology. Our former images of/understanding of knowledge, and the ``unity of knowledge'' (its constitution and possibility) are shifting under our very feet. This, I take it, is what you suggest also in point 3 in Fragment 2.

You mention certain concerns in digital culture about the matter of ``historical consciousness.'' I suspect that in part the historical consciousness of print culture grew out of the proliferation of texts and the seemingly natural link between text and social context. I think digital culture will not be so historically minded about texts. I am not sure whether this is a positive or negative development; it seems likely to be both. I have argued that much of the historical study of the Bible has turned out to be simply another form of naïveté as far as the function of sacred texts in cultures is concerned.

I am puzzled also about the connection between ``knowledge'' and ``information.'' I think that the image of information as floating somewhere in the global network is an increasingly important cultural image. The network world is in a certain sense beyond the human scale.

Recently, I have been preoccupied with trying to somehow reclaim the notion of truth in digital culture. I like the Roycian notion of ``being true'' or loyal as in some senses an apt notion worth exploring. I also am more and more drawn to C. S. Peirce's semiotic perspective. He is a realist and I wonder if being a realist is possible in the digital world. I think Peirce may have been correct in saying that philosophy since the middle ages and particularly modern philosophy is extraordinarily nominalistic. In other words, I wonder if digital pluralism can be redeemed from nihilism by some form of realism.

Finally, your reflections on knowledge in digital culture provoked in me some further thoughts about the nature of ``meaning'' in digital culture. When I send my most recent paper, you will see that I have become a bit obsessed with questions about ``meaning.'' It seems to me that in the culture of print it was possible to think about texts as ``containing'' meaning but that is less possible in digital culture. ``Meaning'' always lies ahead in electronic texts. One thing inevitably leads to the next in an electronic network. That is, only a rather strictly pragmatic view of ``meaning'' is plausible: the meaning of a sign is the interpretant which itself immediately becomes a new sign, to use Peirce's language.


next up previous
Next: Phil's reference Up: J. C. Nyíri: The Previous: In the essay ...

hh
Fri Jul 25 22:00:35 MEST 1997