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Being interactive: for genealogical destruction of a doubt about the 'interactional' present

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posted on 06.11.2020, 15:22 by Ruggero Galtarossa
The thesis pursues a productive dialogue with the critical students who have addressed a seemingly banal and yet challenging question: what is it about interactive media technology that makes present humanity unfree? In order to assess the critical efficacy or meaning of the answers put forward by three disciplines, the thesis turns to Martin Heidegger. From Heidegger’s hermeneutics, the thesis gains its method of meaning interpretation, namely genealogical destruction. From Heidegger’s philosophy of technology, the thesis learns a long overlooked and in fact misunderstood insight about the present debate about interactive media technology. In circular fashion, the thesis demonstrates the validity of Heidegger’s insight via genealogical destruction of three concepts that inform some of the critical genealogies of ‘interactive’ media technology: subjectivity (Neo-Marxism); blackbox (Science and Technology Studies); communication feedback (Media Studies/Computer-Mediated Communication). Upon interpreting the origins of these concepts at the turn of so-called Modernity, the thesis will reach its final insight: a productive dialogue with critical thinking is possible only upon doubting the meaning of the present concept of ‘interactivity’. This might seem paradoxical, insofar as doubt already seems an achievement of the self-proclaimed ‘postmodern’/ ‘amodern’/’posthuman’ thinkers the thesis comes into dialogue with. And yet, the genealogists’ ontological ‘relativism’/’agnosticism’/’interpretative flexibility’ conceals a silent Truth, which was born in continuation with the modern metaphysics that these thinkers believe to have overcome. Unawarely, the genealogists’ thinking is driven by a new Truth, (un)truth or deity to whom they have delegated free thinking: Interactivity. Once applied to the history of technological development, this (un)truth leads them to presentism: the (mis)understanding of past, present and revolutionary future of technological development in terms of the genealogists’ (‘interactional’) present. The genealogists always already apply to history an (un)truth that they have inherited from the present technology that they (mis)understand as ‘interactional’. As indirectly noticed by Heidegger in the 1950s, a vicious circle brings together present thinking about media technology in ‘interactional’ terms and the problem that makes the interactive user unfree. As contended in other terms by Slavoj Žižek, the present way of perceiving the problem is itself part of the problem. In light of these insights, the thesis will find it reasonable to raise its final doubt: a doubt about present thinking about the technological world in ‘interactional’ terms, which is always already a doubt about the meaning of present/‘interactive’ media technology. This is indeed a doubt, which can only be raised in the conclusion. In this respect, the thesis is only the first step of a project of research that must be expanded in the future in order to pursue free thinking.



  • Loughborough University London


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© Ruggero Galtarossa

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.




Toby Miller ; Burçe Çelik ; Thomas Tufte

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Loughborough University London Theses