Mediamatic Magazine vol 4 # 1+2 Geert Lovink 1 jan 1989

Philosophien der neuen Technologie

Jean Baudrillard, Hannes Böhringer, Vilém Flusser, Heinz von Foerster, Friedrich Kittler, Peter Weibel, Ars Electronica, Linz/Merwe (pub) Berlin 1989.
ISBN 3-88396-066-7, German text, ppl35, DM12,-


Philosophien der neuen Technologie -

On the initiative of publishing house Merwe, a symposium was held in Linz on 14 September 1988, entitled Philosophies of the new Technology. The six papers presented at the symposium have now been collected and are published by Merwe without introduction or discussion. This collection is one in a long series of recent books on the subject. The genre is not characterized by brain- racking mental processes or sparkling controversies. Six middle-aged gendemen have produced quite solemn and well-balanced papers that add little to their individual work. Therefore it cannot be called an introduction to the subject for outsiders. It is ‘clean’, professional literature for philosophers of culture and other initiated academics looking for concepts to describe contemporary technology.

All six philosophers more or less agree on the demise of nineteenth-century categories such as subject/object and mind/body. Technology has undermined these opposites. Sovereign man has dissolved in a network of apparatus. The sensorium is equipped with protheses, the most important extension being the computer, exterritorializing the memory (Weibel). Reality evaporates in mathematical simulation models and with it disappears the imaginary fiction of the script. The six philosophers are not interested in what happens after man has disappeared (Kittler). Flusser alone speculates about the exposé, which in the intersubjective culture of the future will be succeeded by the dialogue. It is up to Baudrillard, who brings up the rear in this collection, to pursue this trend to its conclusion. Ignoring the Socratic philosophy of 2500 years ago as well as the statements by Goethe quoted by Böhringer and Kittler, Baudrillard describes the curious world of the fractal subject, which horizon is confined to its TV-screen. It is fascinated by the spectacle of the brains that unfolds before its eyes. The video phase has replaced the mirror phase. Man and machine form an integrated circuit. Alienation no longer exists. The subject is incorporated in the image, yet at the same time, the image is virtual and therefore inaccessible. Still, Baudrillard’s machine is not omnipotent. One thing it cannot do: it cannot produce lust. Even the most intelligent machines cannot transcend their own software. They are incapable of looking at themselves with irony.

This is the explanation for the profound melancholy of the computer. Baudrillard transfers the melancholy of previous thinkers to the machine, in order to remain cheerful himself.