The ontological revolution: On the phenomenology of the internet

SOCRATES 4 (2):56-67 (2016)
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Cogitation described as calculation, the living being described as a machine, cognitive functions considered as algorithmic sequences and the ‘mechanization’ of the subjective were the theoretical elements that late heideggerian anti–humanism, especially in France was able to utilize[1], even more so, after the second cybernetics or post-cybernetics movement of the late ‘60s introduced the concepts of the autopoietic and the allopoietic automata[2]. Recently, neurologists pose claims on the traditional epistemological field of philosophy, proceeding from this ontological decision, the equation of human cognition to cybernetic systems. The emergence of the world-wide-web in the 1990s and the global expansion of the internet during the first decades of the 21st century indicate the fallacies of the cybernetics programme to mechanize the mind. We stand witnesses to a semantic colonization of the cybernetic system, a social imaginary creation and expansion within the digital ensemblistic – identitarian organization that cannot be described by mechanical or cybernetic terms. Paradoxically, cyberspace, as a new being, a form of alterity, seems to both exacerbate and capsize the polarization between the operational and the symbolic. The creation of the internet might be more than an epistemological revolution, to use the terminology of Thomas Kuhn. It might be an ontological revolution. I will try to demonstrate that the emergence of the Internet refutes any such claims, since its context and utility can only be described by means of a social epistemology based on the understanding of social significances as continuous creations of an anonymous social imaginary proposed by Cornelius Castoriadis (1922-1997). I will try to explore some social-semantic aspects of the cyberspace as a nexus of social representations of the individual identity that forms a new sphere of being, where the subjective and the objective merge in a virtual subjective objectivity with unique epistemological attributes and possibilities.

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