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Preface by Arun Tripathi to Jeff Malpas' 'The Non-Autonomy of the Virtual'

Ubiquity, Volume 2008 Issue May | BY Arun Tripathi 

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Full citation in the ACM Digital Library

Australian philosopher Jeff Malpas, author of Place and Experience, argues in his Ubiquity paper The non-autonomy of the virtual: philosophical reflections on contemporary virtuality that the virtual is not autonomous with respect to the everyday, but is rather embedded within it, and an extension of it. Within philosophy, Professor Malpas is perhaps best known as one of a small number of philosophers who work across the analytic-continental divide, publishing one of the first books that drew attention to convergences in the thinking of the key twentieth century American philosopher Donald Davidson and the phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions, as exemplified in the work of Heidegger and Gadamer.


Australian philosopher Jeff Malpas, author of "Place and Experience", argues in his Ubiquity paper "The non-autonomy of the virtual: philosophical reflections on contemporary virtuality" that the virtual is not autonomous with respect to the everyday, but is rather embedded within it, and an extension of it. Within philosophy, Professor Malpas is perhaps best known as one of a small number of philosophers who work across the analytic-continental divide, publishing one of the first books that drew attention to convergences in the thinking of the key twentieth century American philosopher Donald Davidson and the phenomenological and hermeneutic traditions, as exemplified in the work of Heidegger and Gadamer.

In a similar vein Hubert Dreyfus is striking back with respect to his critique of Internet as he has currently written an article on "SECOND LIFE" as "Faking it" for the CALIFORNIA MAGAZINE, where I think Dreyfus is asking the right question as "can it (second life) deliver on that promise? See Prof. Dreyfus paper on Second Life here http://alumni.berkeley.edu/california/200803/dreyfus.asp (The article is in 5 parts, as always thought-provoking and interesting). In greater depth, Dreyfus discusses the idea that if our body goes, so do relevance, skill, reality and meaning. If that is the trade-off, the prospect of living our lives in and through the Web may not be so attractive after all.

Over last year, I also published a short paper on Digital Promises in Ubiquity where I discuss the question Will it ever possible for us to leave our vulnerable bodies behind and enjoy the risks in cyberspace? , Can others really exploit you through the safe distance of the Net? And will digital media extend and improve human interaction? The problem is that cyber society is not developed fully enough so that we could, for example, do all our work online. In my paper I question the notion of embodiment (bodily beings and presence) in cyberspace. We are physical beings, and known to the world through our bodies. We acknowledge that the natural body gives us extraordinary means of interacting with each other and with the world. But cyberspace has been built on the Cartesian ideals of metaphysical separation between mind and body. Is cyberspace creating a different world? Is cyberspace the extension of the real world? The making of cyberspace creates a problem with the notion of body and embodiment.

From a different perspective Dr. Jeff Malpas in his paper elaborates the problem of body in virtuality and Second Life. Dr. Malpas in his Chapter 6 on "Acting at a Distance and Knowing from Afar: Agency and Knowledge on the Internet" (pp. 109 - 124) of Ken Goldberg's famous anthology on "The Robot in the Garden: Telerobotics and Telepistemology in the Age of the Internet" (MIT Press 2000) notes that "mediated knowledge" is a contradiction: Knowledge is inextricably bound up with physical location. Malpas attacks the "Cartesian-Lockean" view of experience, according to which all our knowledge of the world is mediated. It is this view, he argues, which leads to the mistaken idea that technological mediation is a natural extension of ordinary experience. (See Goldberg's Introduction: The Unique Phenomenon of a Distance)

See References

Digital Promises by Arun Tripathi
http://www.acm.org/ubiquity/views/a_tripathi_4.html

Tripathi, Arun Kumar. Hubert Dreyfus, On the Internet: Thinking in Action in Ethics and Information
Technology Volume 5, Issue 1 (2003) Pages: 63 - 64.

Ken Goldberg: Introduction: The Unique of a Distance
http://goldberg.berkeley.edu/art/tele/intro.html

Source: Ubiquity Volume 9, Issue 19 (May 13, 2008 - May 19, 2008)

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