Media Ecology and Bios Theoretikos

That’s the title of the paper of I’ll be presenting at the 18th Annual Convention of the Media Ecology Association, to be held June 22–25 at Saint Mary’s College of California.

It’s Part 2 of the paper I recently published in Cosmos and History. The abstract is below.

Title: Media Ecology and Bios Theoretikos: Philosophy as Extended Skillful Action

Abstract: In this paper, I discuss the media ecology of philosophy. Specifically, I explore the media environments that enable philosophical activity and the media practices that express and transform philosophical understanding. To these ends, I draw on the work of German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk and the ideas of James Gibson to suggest that philosophical ability (techné) is tied deeply to specific exercises of self-transformation (askēsis), best executed within certain affordance spaces, and to specific media practices, in this case those of reading and writing. In short, these media ecologies are immersive technologies for the installation of new philosophical visions in the eyes of the practicing. The activity of philosophy in this way takes as its condition of possibility an intricate ecology of affordance spaces—academies, libraries, monasteries, and more—whose aesthetics complement and enable the individual’s capacity to perform certain maneuvers in thought, maneuvers that make apparent the material conditions of possibility required for the bios theoretikos (the life of contemplation). To use Sloterdijk’s terms, these practice zones afford the architectural equivalent of the philosophical epoché. In other words, they are atmospheres suited for the suspension of the mundane and that support the growth of new capacities in the perceptual arena. The exercises of the philosopher are in this context not adequately described in individual or introspective terms. Instead, acts of philosophical practice, I argue, are better understood as intersubjective modes of skillful action extended amidst larger media environments.

7 Comments

  1. would be perhaps be of value to think of a library or a lab in terms of the differences one book rather than another, one tool over the other makes, what is afforded and resisted, etc.
    Different skill levels/styles and related literacies could be like differences in bird beaks in terms of what is available/incorporate-able.
    Be interested in how this differs or not in the end from ANT like:
    http://www.heterogeneities.net/publications/Law2007ANTandMaterialSemiotics.pdf

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    • Yeah, this is definitely on the radar. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the editing work has changed my philosophizing just in terms of what it lets me cobble together with relative ease on the screen.

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      • yes would be good to flesh some of that out, in my case editing work has not lent itself to such an ease so always good I think to remember the meaning in/as use differences that make a difference, maybe you can introduce something like beta testing to philo.

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      • I feel like this whole blog has been an ongoing beta test . . .

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