requiem for certainty

Simple Syllogism for the Internet Age

with 2 comments

1. Reality is only available as information (derived from a certain reading of Kant)

2. All information is available everywhere (derive fromd a prophetic internetworking theory)


3. All available reality is available everywhere

(The logic is rather unassailable but the premises may perhaps be doubted.)

Written by Colin Koopman

July 24, 2008 at 1:33 am

Posted in internet

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2 Responses

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  1. I’m afraid #2 is probably much too ambitious. One need only try to conduct a romance over the internet to see how far short it falls of having the other present in the flesh.

    Or consider the majesty of some natural scene — say the misty snow caps and the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest, which I had read about but couldn’t appreciate until I could see them for myself.

    This last consideration suggests to me a possible grounds to criticize your point #1, too: for Kant, the formless sublime lets us represent a deeper level of reality than that which presents itself to us as information.

    Moreover, whatever appears on the internet has already been mediated by the mind of its archivist, for better or worse. Information that the archivist neglects will not be passed on; information (be it bias, or insight) that the archivist projects will be passed on, irrespective of whether it would have been available to you.


    July 25, 2008 at 4:22 am

  2. Yes it’s overblown but I’m not so sure that you are rather more disconcerted by Premise #1 rather than #2. The majesty of a natural scene is something that is very difficult to “informationalize”. Once it is “informationalized” it’s rather easy to transport.

    On the other hand maybe it is quite easy to work up a view according to which even the most ecastatic moments or “informational”. In that case there are some “information” that are almost impossible to transport.

    So the argument is not really meant to work of course but rather to provoke. Here’s the provocation. There’s a clear tension between between how to take “information” in the first two premises. Taking it in either of two ways, it turns out that one premise becomes trivially true and the other enormously ambitious.

    Still it’s a fun idea. What really interests me about it as an increasing sense that as soon as anything is informationalized then it is widely available and distributed with breathtaking rapidity. We may be entering an epoch in which the most important form of resistance is resistance to being information. Or it may be an epoch in which all resistance must be informational.

    (I hope all is well with you. You should get a contingent from Mac together to drive down to SPEP in Pittsburgh in October. It’s less than a day’s drive. Let me know if you think about doing this.)


    July 26, 2008 at 7:23 pm

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