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Augmented Ontologies or How to Philosophize with a Digital Hammer

Gualeni, S. (2014). ‘Augmented Ontologies; or, How to Philosophize with a Digital Hammer’. Journal article on Springer’s Philosophy of Technology. Ed. Luciano Floridi, Vol. 26, N. 2, 177-199.

In this paper Gualeni argues that technology could help to loosen the constraints of human subjectivity and open a space to consider other forms of non-human subjectivity, reconfiguring the self. The paper considers computers as an ontological and epistemological instrument, that can be used to create digitally mediated experiences which help to think about subjectivity and the users relationship to the world and themselves. This approach forms a Praxis or “applied philosophy”, and Gualeni offers a number of examples based on his own games and work.

Embedding his work in a Hiedggerian discourse of subjectivity, Gualeni draws on Heidegger’s Being in Time to help outline a projectivity or understanding of the subjects openness to otherness. Gualeni states “In this sense, this study proposes a fundamental understanding of technology as the materialization of mankind’s tendency to overcome its physical, perceptual and communicative limitations.” (drawing later on McLuhan and Bogost’s work). This rendering of concepts for Gualeni can help philosophy to be “presented as virtual experiences, philosophical concepts can be accessed without the filter of subjective imagination” (p 178) giving it a directness and immediacy, but I might argue closes down the dynamism of interpretations, but opens new ways to configure the concepts through a more physical and bodily encounter.

Useful Quotes

“Digitally mediated simulations do not, in fact, reveal new worlds fictionally, that is to say through forms of mediation which require the complementation of subjective interpretation and imagination, but they effectively and objectively open new experiential, phenomenological horizons. They disclose ways to experience worlds that are alternative and often in contrast with the stable, scientific understanding of time, space, properties, causation, etc. that human beings structured in their everyday relationships with the world labelled as “actual” and operate within such worlds.” (p189)

“I propose a projective understanding of digitally mediated simulations as sociocultural instruments that characteristically offer the interactive affordances for extending and fragmenting human kinds of ontologies.” (p 190)

“What I am arguing both through my games as well as my more conventional academic work is that by materializing philosophical concepts, hypotheses and alternatives as interactive worlds, computers are decisively contributing to the raise of a new humanism.” (p 192)

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