Archive for the ‘Phenomenology’ Category

CfP: Phenomenological Approaches to Media, Technology and Communication

14 November 2012

Conditions of Mediation: Phenomenological Approaches to Media, Technology and Communication

2013 International Communication Association (ICA) Preconference
ICA Theory, Philosophy and Critique Division
17 June 2013, Birkbeck, University of London

Paper proposals are invited from a very wide range of perspectives, including but not limited to media history, media archaeology, audience studies, political theory, metaphysics, software studies, science and technology studies, digital aesthetics, cultural geography and urban studies. Though all proposals should relate in some way to phenomenological thinking, this should be interpreted broadly, ranging from core thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Sartre to those with looser affiliations to phenomenology per se, for example Arendt, Bergson, Bourdieu, Deleuze, Garfinkel, Ingold, Latour, Whitehead and Harman.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

  • Dr David Berry, Swansea University
  • Professor Nick Couldry, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Professor Graham Harman, American University of Cairo
  • Professor Lisa Parks, UC Santa Barbara
  • Professor Paddy Scannell, University of Michigan

Please send an abstract (max 200 words) of your paper to both Scott Rodgers ( and Tim Markham ( by 20 November 2012. Authors will be informed regarding acceptance / rejection for the preconference no later than 20 December 2012.

Phenomenological Approaches to Ethics and IT

26 April 2011

Lucas Introna (who was one of the panellists at our February 2008 Harman Review event) has just updated his entry on “Phenomenological Approaches to Ethics and Information Technology” in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. In it he also makes the point that there are some linkages between phenomenology and Latour:

Before proceeding it should be noted that the most recent work of Bruno Latour (2002, 2005) suggests that he has taken up many of the insights of phenomenology in his ongoing work. Thus, the later Latour (2002, 2005) can be seen as a bridging figure between the constructivist tradition and the phenomenological tradition (for more detailed arguments in this regard refer to Graham Harman’s (2009) book on Latour’s metaphysical ground).

The Prince and the Wolf back cover

26 February 2011

In celebration of the fact that the transcript of The Harman Review event at the LSE, organised by the ANTHEM Group in February 2008, is now available for pre-order in the UK (and shortly in the USA), under the title, The Prince and the Wolf: Latour and Harman at the LSE, let me post the back cover of the book here, especially as that is the one that is usually not visible in online book shops.

The Prince and The Wolf back cover

Towards Speculative Realism

10 November 2010

Graham Harman’s new book of old essays and lectures has just been published under the title Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures, by Zero Books. Its publication is a proper ANTHEM event, in the sense that this book deals with both actor-network theory and Heidegger, as well as Harman’s own attempt to build on both, through his object-oriented philosophy. Here are the contents:

    1. Phenomenology and the Theory of Equipment (1997)
    2. Alphonso Lingis on the Imperatives in Things (1997)
    3. The Theory of Objects in Heidegger and Whitehead (1997)
    4. A Fresh Look at Zuhandenheit (1999)
    5. Bruno Latour, King of Networks (1999)
    6. Object-Oriented Philosophy (1999)
    7. The Revival of Metaphysics in Continental Philosophy (2002)
    8. Physical Nature and the Paradox of Qualities (2006)
    9. Space, Time, and Essence: An Object-Oriented Approach (2008)
    10. The Assemblage Theory of Society (2008)
    11. Objects, Matter, Sleep, and Death (2009)

      Graham Harman recordings

      16 March 2010

      As the links to the recordings of Graham Harman’s talks are scattered around the site in various blog posts, I created a separate page (Graham Harman Audio) where they are all compiled. I’ll also copy them into this post.

      • Listen to or download [100MB, MP3] – 1 hr 49 min recording of Graham Harman’s talk at the 21st Century Materialism Workshop, Zagreb, 20 June 2009
      • Listen – 1 hr 45 min recording of Graham Harman’s talk at University College Dublin (UCD), entitled “A New Theory of Substance”, with Dermot Moran as discussant, on 17 April 2009.
      • Listen – 1 hr 47 min recording of Graham Harman’s talk entitled “Assemblages According to Manuel DeLanda” and the discussion at the ANTHEM seminar, London School of Economics and Political Science, on 27 November 2008. Chaired by Peter Erdélyi.
      • Listen – 3 hrs 24 min recording of “The Harman Review: Bruno Latour’s Empirical Metaphysics” symposium at ISIG, LSE on 5 February 2008. Speakers are Bruno Latour and Graham Harman. The panelists are Lucas Introna and Noortje Marres. The event is introduced by Leslie Willcocks and chaired by Edgar Whitley. There are also audience questions and comments.
      • Listen – 1 hour recording of Graham Harman’s talk, “The Greatness of McLuhan,” on the metaphysics of the ‘tetrad’ of Marshall and Eric McLuhan, at the Media School at Bournemouth University on 4 February 2008. Introduction by Barry Richards and Peter Erdélyi.
      • Listen – 1 hr 15 min recording of Graham Harman’s talk “On the Origin of the Work of Art (atonal remix)” at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth on 1 February 2008. Introduction by Tammy Lu.
      • Listen – 1 hr 34 min recording of Graham Harman’s talk “On Actors, Networks, and Plasma: Heidegger vs. Latour vs. Heidegger” at the Information Systems Research Forum, ISIG, LSE on 29 November 2007. Introduction by Aleksi Aaltonen and Peter Erdélyi.

      Intentional inexistence

      29 September 2009

      Another quote from Graham Harman’s “Dwelling With the Fourfold” paper (p.  299):

      The hammer in its tool-being, then, is not just simple. It is also a vast relational compound arising from numerous subservient or contributing entities. But by the same token, the hammer in its breakdown is also not just a relational phenomenon lying on the outermost surface of reality. After all, the hammer in this case exists in relation to me. And such a relation is a genuine entity in its own right, an interior space possessing some features and lacking others. In fact, the relation between me and the hammer is nothing less than a new object in its own right. My perception of the hammer, whatever its features, is therefore something that takes place on the interior of an object. Any space is a space on the inside of an object. There is no transcendence that strips free of all location—no starry, windy space of freedom or Angst to which humans arise and survey the world from a mountaintop. Instead, we are like moles or mining-machines, burrowing from one zone of reality to another, sometimes finding ourselves in better places than others, but never in a place from which we can survey all the rest. It is well known that Franz Brentano’s full name for intentionality is “intentional inexistence.” This is usually taken to refer to objects existing inside human consciousness, when in fact it really means that human consciousness is always on the inside of an object.

      Dwelling With the Fourfold

      27 September 2009

      Graham Harman has published an article on Heidegger’s concept of the fourfold (Geviert) in the August issue of Space and Culture, under the title “Dwelling With the Fourfold.” The abstract on the journal’s website doesn’t quite do justice to the article’s content, so let me copy in the introductory paragraph, which spells out its focus in more detail:

      Heidegger’s concept of “dwelling” was first introduced in 1951 in the famous Darmstadt lecture “Bauen Wohnen Denken” (Heidegger, 1954). It is inseparable from his model of things as mysterious fourfold structures. The thing is a mirror-play of earth, sky, gods, and mortals; to dwell means simply to let this fourfold be what it is. While no major concept of Heidegger’s career has received less detailed treatment than the fourfold, I hold this to be a tragic mistake. The following article outlines the key features of Geviert and tries to show why Heidegger’s fourfold has great value for the near future of philosophy, despite the apparent opacity of its poetic terminology. We can start from the beginning, with Heidegger’s (1949/1994) reflections on “the thing” in Bremen, which later appeared as a spin-off essay of the same title.

      It’s a clever title for a clever article, as Harman does exactly that: he lets the fourfold be what it is. Granted, it is still Harman’s interpretation of what Heidegger’s fourfold means, but it is a convincing one. Although one could also argue that if this interpretation arises out of dwelling with the fourfold, then it is not simply an interpretation but an outcome that is hardwired into the method of the fourfold. Which is not to suggest that ‘practicing the fourfold’ is a trivial matter. Far from it. As Harman suggests above, this still seems to be a rather neglected kata of Heideggerian martial arts.

      Readers of Harman’s Tool-Being will recognise the article’s argument. For those who haven’t read Harman’s book yet or are not familiar with his work, this article could be a good way to enter this problem area. However, I would still recommend following it up with reading Harman’s chapter on the fourfold in Tool-Being, alongside Heidegger’s original essays, of course.

      Nonetheless, Harman does move on from his argument in Tool-Being, and the article could be considered a speculative realist critique of Heidegger’s fourfold. This critique however seems to strengthen Heidegger’s original insights further, and can be understood as a retrieval of the essence of Heidegger’s argument. Interestingly the article also makes the connection with actor-network theory and Bruno Latour, although this link is not mentioned explicitly. However, the discussion of “infinite regress” and occasionalism in Heidegger will remind readers of Harman’s evaluation and critique of Latour’s metaphysics in Prince of Networks. Indeed this article could be thought of as the link between his interpretation of Heidegger’s fourfold in Tool-Being and Harman’s own fourfold structure presented in the final chapter of Prince of Networks.

      Prince of Networks review

      3 September 2009

      A review of Graham Harman’s Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics in The Philosophers’ Magazine by Brian Smith from the University of Dundee.

      The aim of Prince of Networks is twofold: it is both a secondary text, introducing Latour to a wider philosophical audience, and a primary text, presenting Harman’s own increasingly well-formed and complex “object-oriented” philosophy.

      Ethics and the Speaking of Things

      2 July 2009

      The latest contribution to the Heidegger-ANT axis comes from Lucas Introna (2009): “Ethics and the Speaking of Things.” Theory Culture Society 26(4): 25-46.

      This article is about our relationship with things; about the abundant material geographies that surround us and constitute the very possibility for us to be the beings that we are. More specifically, it is about the question of the possibility of an ethical encounter with things (qua things). We argue, with the science and technology studies tradition (and Latour in particular), that we are the beings that we are through our entanglements with things, we are thoroughly hybrid beings, cyborgs through and through — we have never been otherwise. With Heidegger we propose that a human-centred ethics of hybrids will fail to open a space for an ethical encounter with things since all beings in the sociomaterial network — humans and non-human alike — end up circulating as objects, enframed as `standing reserve’, things-for-the-purposes-of the network. We suggest that what is needed is an ethos beyond ethics, or the overcoming of an ethics — which is based on the will to power — towards an ethos of letting be. We elaborate such a possibility with the help of Heidegger, in particular with reference to the work of Graham Harman and his notion of `tool-being’. From this we propose, very tentatively, an ethos that has as its ground a poetic dwelling with things, a way of being that lets being be (Gelassenheit). We show how such a poetic dwelling, or ethos of Gelassenheit, may constitute the impossible possibility of a very otherwise way of being with things — an ethos of a `community of those who have nothing in common’ as suggested by Alphonso Lingis.

      Realism without materialism

      23 June 2009

      Graham Harman delivered a brilliantly dense paper in Zagreb over the weekend. He defined and redefined realism and materialism only to abandon both (in favour of the term “realism without materialism”), in pursuit of an object-oriented philosophy that fuses the most interesting insights of Heidegger and Latour. Download the audio file [100MB MP3] of the lecture and the discussion that followed [1 hr 49 min] from the website of the 21st Century Materialism Workshop.