Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology

Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology

Jos de Mul. Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology. State University of New York (SUNY) Press, 2014.  Destiny Domesticated investigates…

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Wittgenstein 2.0. Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn

Wittgenstein 2.0. Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn

Jos de Mul. Wittgenstein 2.0: Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn. In: A. Pichler & H. Hrachovec (eds.) Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Information. Proceedings…

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The sovereign debt crisis or Sophie’s choice. On European tragedies, guilt and responsibility

The sovereign debt crisis or Sophie’s choice. On European tragedies, guilt and responsibility

Liesbeth Noordegraaf-Eelens and Jos de Mul, The sovereign debt crisis or Sophie’s choice. On European tragedies, guilt and responsibility. Heinrich Böll Stiftung. European Union. December…

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Horizons of Hermeneutics

Horizons of Hermeneutics

Jos de Mul. Horizons of Hermeneutics: Intercultural Hermeneutics in a Globalizing World.  Frontiers of Philosophy in China. Vol. 6, No. 4 (2011), 628-655. DOI: 10.1007/s11466-011-0159-x (DOI) 10.1007/s11466-011-0159-x…

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《主权债务危机还是苏菲的抉择:论欧洲的悲剧、罪恶与责任》

《主权债务危机还是苏菲的抉择:论欧洲的悲剧、罪恶与责任》

约斯·德·穆尔 (Jos de Mul),里斯贝思·努尔德格拉芙 (Liesbeth Noordegraaf-Eelens):《主权债务危机还是苏菲的抉择:论欧洲的悲剧、罪恶与责任》(The sovereign debt crisis or Sophie’s choice. On European tragedies, guilt and responsibility),《社会科学战线》2012年第4期(Social Science Front no.4 2012),《新华文摘》2012年第13期全文转载(Xinhua Digest ,no13 2012).

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The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Recombination

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Recombination

Jos de Mul. The work of art in the age of digital recombination. In J. Raessens, M. Schäfer, M. v. d. Boomen, Lehmann and S. A.-S.…

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The game of life. Narrative and ludic identity formation in computer games

The game of life. Narrative and ludic identity formation in computer games

Jos de Mul. The game of life. Narrative and ludic identity formation in computer games. In: J. Goldstein and J. Raessens,Handbook of Computer Games Studies. Cambridge MA…

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Possible printings.  On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design

Possible printings. On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design

Jos de Mul. Possible printings. On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design. In: B. van den Berg, S. van der Hof & E. Kosta…

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Possible printings.  On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design

Possible printings. On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design

Jos de Mul. Possible printings. On 3D printing, database ontology and open (meta)design. In: B. van den Berg, S. van der Hof & E. Kosta…

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Books: description and reviews

命运的驯化——悲剧重生于技术精神 内容简介 (Chinese translation of Destiny Domesticated\)

命运的驯化——悲剧重生于技术精神 内容简介 (Chinese translation of Destiny Domesticated\)

Jos de Mul. 命运的驯化——悲剧重生于技术精神 内容简介…

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Cyberspace Odyssee

Cyberspace Odyssee

Jos de Mul. Cyberspace Odyssee. Kampen:…

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Toeval. Inaugurale rede

Toeval. Inaugurale rede

Jos de Mul. Toeval. Inaugurale rede. Rotterdam:…

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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2011 JoomlaWorks Ltd.
English publications
Jos de Mul. Wittgenstein 2.0: Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn. In: A. Pichler & H. Hrachovec (eds.) Wittgenstein and the Philosophy of Information. Proceedings of the 30th International Ludwig Wittgenstein-Symposium in Kirchberg, 200 Austrian Ludwig Wittgenstein Society. New Series, Vol 6. Heusenstamm: Ontos Verlag, 157-183.
 

Wittgenstein 2.0: Philosophical reading and writing after the mediatic turn
 

Wir sind aufs Glatteis geraten, wo die Reibung fehlt, also die Bedingungen in gewissem Sinne ideal sind, aber wir eben deshalb auch nicht gehen können.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Glattes Eis, ein Paradies für den, der gut zu tanzen weiß.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Introduction1

‘Although Wittgenstein is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential philosophers of this century, there is very little agreement about the nature of his contribution. In fact, one of the most striking characteristics of the secondary literature on Wittgenstein is the overwhelming lack of agreement about what he believed and why’. These are the opening words of David Stern’s article ‘The availability of Wittgenstein’s philosophy’ in The Cambridge Companion to Wittgenstein (Stern 1996, 442). In his introduction to the same volume, Hans Sluga even proposes that our fascination with Wittgenstein might be ‘a function of our bewilderment over who he really is and what his works stand for’ (Sluga 1996, 1).

Published in Book chapters
Thursday, 15 December 2011 15:26

Das Schauspiel des Lebens

Jos de Mul. Das Schauspiel des Lebens. Dilthey and the historical biography. In: Revue Internationale de Philosophie, (2003), no.2, 99-116.

Das Schauspiel des Lebens. Wilhelm Dilthey and historical biography
 

"Uber den wissenschaftlichen Charakter der Biographie sind die Ansichten der Historiker geteilt." [1]

These words, written by Wilhelm Dilthey about a hundred years ago, are just as true today as they were then. As in Dilthey's time, many historians still deny that the historical biography is scientific in nature, because of its narrative and literary character. It isn't without irony that authors of literary fiction, conversely, often doubt the literary character of historical biographies because they are not entirely a work of imagination. One might say that historical biography is situated in a no-man's land between art and science.

In order to understand the discussion concerning the status of the historical biography, we have to view it within the broader context of the debate on the status of historiography. This debate has accompanied modern historiography from its birth in the early nineteenth century. Before then the question concerning the relationship between the artistic and scientific dimension of historiography virtually played no role. The reason for this was that before the nineteenth century these two dimensions could barely be distinguished. The word 'novel' not only referred to Active stories, but also to the kind of stories we nowadays call historical narratives. However, under the influence of rationalism and empiricism, literature and historiography gradually became different autonomous genres. The emergence of the modern discipline of historiography was at least partly motivated by the presupposition that knowledge only deserves this title when it is rationally and empirically tested and attains a certain level of certainty.[2] These requirements were inspired by the impressive success the natural sciences and the new technologies connected with them had had since Newton. Based on the discovery of causal relationships in nature, these sciences were not only able to explain natural phenomena, but to predict and to control them, as well. As a result, the objectivity of the natural sciences increasingly began to function as an ideal for all sciences. After the middle of the nineteenth century, the ideal of a 'unified science' became an integral part of the repertoire of (neo)positivist scientists and philosophers.

Jos de Mul. The game of life. Narrative and ludic identity formation in computer games. In: J. Goldstein and J. Raessens,Handbook of Computer Games Studies. Cambridge MA (MIT Press), 2005, 251-266.

Human identity is not a self-contained entity, hidden in the depths of our inner self, but is actively constructed in a social world with the aid of various expressions, such as social roles, rituals, clothes, music, and (life) stories. These expressions not only mediate between us and our world (referentiality) and between us and our fellow man (communicability), but also between us and ourselves (self-understanding). Consequently, changes in these mediating structures reflect changes in the relationship between us and our world, in our social relationships, and in our self-conception.

In recent decades the domain of expressions has been (massively1) extended by computer games and, as a result, we witness the emergence of a new tool for identity formation. In this chapter I shall examine the way computer games construct our identity in comparison with traditional narrative media, such as novels and movies. My investigation is primarily philosophical: it aims at a conceptual clarification of the relationship between ( playing) computer games and human identity. However, though this study is not empirical, one of its aims is to contribute to the theoretical framework for empirical research in this field. The theoretical starting point of my investigation is Ricoeur’s theory of narrative identity. I will argue that this theory provides a fruitful conceptual framework for understanding the way playing computer games construct personal identity. However, because his theory exclusively focuses on standard linguistic narratives, we will have to amend this theory in order to apply it within the domain of computer games.

I will develop the argument in three sections, starting with a short analysis of the concept of identity. Against this background, I explain Ricoeur’s theory of narrative identity and discuss some constraints that prevent its application to computer games. In the next section, after a short analysis of the concepts of play, game, and computer game, I discuss the narrative dimension of computer games and the interactive dimension that distinguish computer games fundamentally from narratives. Then I present an outline of a theory of ludic identity, and discuss the transformation in our present culture from narrative to ludic identity construction. Finally, I formulate some aspects of this transformation that are crucial for its evaluation.

Published in Book chapters
Liesbeth Noordegraaf-Eelens and Jos de Mul, The sovereign debt crisis or Sophie’s choice. On European tragedies, guilt and responsibility. Heinrich Böll Stiftung. European Union. December 21, 2011. 

Does it matter at all?

oedipusTBAThe year 2011 will probably be known for its quick succession of Euro summits. They all had a similar, tragic outline. Every summit started with good intentions: this would be the summit bringing the solution for the crisis. As a result, expectations ran sky high and financial markets lifted. As the summit came closer, expectations were moderated, ballyhooing tempered, rumors about failures spread, and possible solutions were put into doubt. During – or just before – the summit, it became clear that although some solution was to be expected, it definitely would not be the solution. For a moment markets had seemed relieved after the summits, but within a few days pessimism took over. Instead of restoring confidence the summit had further weakened it: once again it became clear that this was not the final solution; once again a new summit would be needed. Just as in Greek tragedy, every next step seems to bring us closer to the final catastrophe.

Published in Online publications
Jos de Mul. ( ed.), Plessner's Philosophical Anthropology. Perspectives and Prospects. Amsterdam/Chicago: Amsterdam University Press/Chicago University Press, 2014.

Helmut Plessner (1892–1985) was one of the founders of philosophical anthropology, and his book Levels of the Organic and Man, first published in 1928, has inspired generations of philosophers, biologists, social scientists, and humanities scholars. This volume offers the first substantial introduction to Plessner’s philosophical anthropology in English, not only setting it in context with such familiar figures as Bergson, Cassirer, and Merleau-Ponty, but also showing Plessner’s relevance to contemporary discussions in a wide variety of fields in the humanities and sciences.

September 2014 - Hardback - 156 x 234 mm - 498 pages
ISBN 978 90 8964 634 7 - e-ISBN 978 90 4852 310 8 - €119.00 / £96.00

Open Access edition 2016: free download (see attachment)

Reviews

"Dieser Band ist inhaltlich von der sehr aufschlussreichen Einleitung bis zum äußerst spannenden Entwurf der 'Philosophical Anthropologt 2.0'  äußerst gelungen. Es handelt sich sowohl um einen Beitrag zur Plessner Forschung, der weit über diese hinausreicht, als auch um einen Einblick in die aktuellen Debatten der philosophische Anthropologie. De Band nimmt den Faden  der Philosophische Anthropologie Plessners auf, die sich von Anfang an als interdiziplinäres Unternehmen verstand. Nicht nu, das die Autoren aus verschiedenen Gebieten stammen, sondern Plessners Denken wird auch mit fremden Disziplinen konfrontiert. Auf diese Weise liefert dieser Band ein farbenfrohes Panorama, das dazu einlädt Pl;essner neu zu Lesen und interdisziplinär zu arbeiten."

Jahannes F.M. Schlick. Plessner 2.0? Die Philosophische Anthropologie imn Kontext der gegenwärtigen Natur- und Sozialwissenschaften. Internationales Jahrbuch für Philosophische Anthropologie. Volume 5 (2015), 279-289.

"Whether new historical developments demand revisions of, supplementations to, or merely further internal distinctions within the Plessnerian conceptual framework is an important question. A question of arguably at least equal importance is whether researchers will continue to confront new developments with the same systematic depth and breadth and with the same openness to and inventiveness about novel concepts, as Plessner did. From this perspective, Verbeek and de Mul’s “meta-eccentricity” and “poly-eccentricity” show the fecundity of Plessner’s approach as much as any limitation to it. These innovations show that new analyses of centeredness and decenteredness of various kinds, within a model of space and movement that allows for interpenetration among physical, logical, and phenomenological modes of appearance and functioning, can be built through variations—eccentric variations, perhaps—on Plessner’s initial account. [..] Further applications and developments of the Plessnerian concepts should be sought not only in scholarly and historical modes but also in constructive and experimental ones. Some of the strongest and most interesting essays in the new volume are in this genre of extension and re-invention.
The accumulated discussions of Plessner, in the nearly 100 years since the publication of Die Stufen, already include remarkably insightful and provocative work, both in sympathetic and critical modes. I think, for instance, of the discussions of Plessner in Erich Rothacker’s (1966) Philosophische Anthropologie; in many of Jürgen Habermas’s works in works by Jürgen Habermas, Herbert Schnädelbach, Hans Blumenberg, Odo Marquard, Peter Sloterdijk, and Marjorie Grene16; in Axel Honneth and Hans Joas’s (1988) Social Action and Human Nature, Roberto Esposito’s ([2002] 2011) Immunitas, and Christof Wulf’s ([2004] 2013) Anthropology: A Continental Perspective (see also, Gebauer and Wulf 2009); and now this volume. Plessner studies can become more compelling, more wide-ranging, and more eccentric, by building on a dialogue with this accumulating literature."

Phillip Honenberger. Eccentric Investigations of (Post-)Humanity. Review Essay.  Philosophy of the Social Sciences 2016, Vol. 46(1) 56–76 (for the complete review see attachment).

Published in Books
Jos de Mul. Destiny Domesticated. The Rebirth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Technology. State University of New York (SUNY) Press, 2014. 

Destiny Domesticated investigates three approaches Western civilization has tried to tame fate: the heroic affirmation of fate in the tragic culture of the Greeks, the humble acceptance of divine providence in Christianity, and the abolition of fate in modern technological society. Against this background, Jos de Mul argues that the uncontrollability of technology introduces its own tragic dimension to our culture. Considering a range of literary texts and contemporary events, and drawing on twenty-five centuries of tragedy interpretation from philosophers such as Aristotle, Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, literary critics George Steiner and Terry Eagleton, and others, de Mul articulates a contemporary perspective on the tragic, shedding new light on philosophical topics such as free will, determinism, and the contingency of life.

Hard cover - 358 pages 
$90.00 hc 
ISBN 978-1-4384-4971-5

Electronic - 358 pages
$27.95
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-4973-9

Paperback - 358 pages
$27.95
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-4972-2
Release Date: January 2015

SUNY Press
state university of new york press
1-877-204-6073 • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. • www.sunypress.edu

REVIEWS

“The most important merit of the book is to propose a convincing definition of man and his relation to technology. With regard to the first aspect, de Mul occupies a middle position between the modern philosophies of the subject and the postmodern philosophies which have deconstructed it. As opposed to the Cartesian transparent and self-evident cogito, he argues that there are forces inside and outside man which make us often act against our own expectations. Unlike the contemporary heirs of the masters of suspicion Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, he does not believe that the subject is a mere illusion. The tragic definition of the subject is halfway between these two exaggerations. The tragic man is at the same time powerful and powerless, autonomous and limited, strong and fragile, and there is a surprising continuity between the ancient Greek man and the contemporary human being. Maybe the truth is that we have always been tragic – we have never been modern – but for a long period we have acted as if it was the case. As regards our relation to technology, too, de Mul’s position is halfway between two extremes. In contrast to a certain – especially continental – philosophy of technology of the twentieth century, represented by authors like Heidegger, Ellul, and Marcuse, he does not think that technology is intrinsically destructive forman. Yet it does not mean that technology is simply neutral, according to him. The tragic man deals with technology without unjustified fear, but he is aware of its power.

Thanks to this clear perspective, the text can have a relevant role in the contemporary philosophical debate on technology. Although it was originally published in Dutch in 2006, its ideas are current more than ever.”

Alberto Romele

 

Published in Books
Jos de Mul. The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey's Hermeneutics of Life. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010 (second edition - eBook), 424 p.

First edition: 2004
ISBN: 780300097733
Cloth: US $52.00 (Order); €33,99 (Bestel)


One of the founders of modern hermeneutics, German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) confronted the question of how modern, postmetaphysical human beings can cope with the ambivalence, contingency, and finitude that fundamentally characterize their lives. This book offers a reevaluation and fresh analysis of Dilthey’s hermeneutics of life against the background of the development of philosophy during the past two centuries.

Jos de Mul relates Dilthey’s work to other philosophers who influenced or were influenced by him, including Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Comte, Mill, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, and Derrida. Weaving together systematic analysis and historical investigation, de Mul begins the book with an account of the horizon on which Dilthey developed his unfinished masterwork, Critique of Historical Reason. The author then elaborates a systematic reconstruction of Dilthey’s ontology of life, relates the ontology to the work of other twentieth-century philosophers, and positions Dilthey’s thought within current philosophical debate.


Jos de Mul is full professor in philosophical anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Winner of the Praemium Erasmianum Research Prize.

"A thorough, insightful account of Dilthey's philosophy, this book offers many valuable new contributions. De Mul argues effectively for Dilthey's relevance today"

Rudolf Makkreel, Emory University, Atlanta

"De Mul is an ambitious commentator. He reconstructs both biography and cultural context, and he interprets virtually all of Dilthey's more substantial writings while seeking to engage with his critics. In addition to extensive discussions of Dilthey's own writings, there are long sections on Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Husserl, Gadamer, and Derrida. In a book that may stand as one of the best and most thorough in the recent critical literature on Dilthey, de Mul successfully tackles all of these challenges"

Espen Hammer, The Review of Metaphysics 60:4 (2007)  Read entire review

In an era of heightened existential vulnerability and awareness of finitude there is a correspondingly heightened need for new contexts of human understanding. Here we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to de Mul for providing us with a superb explication of the thought of Wilhelm Dilthey, whose precocious insights into the finitude and historical contingency of human understanding promise to contribute immeasurably to the widening of its horizons.  

Robert D. Stolorow, Human Studies.A Journal for Philosophy and the Social Sciences (2012) Read entire review 

Amazon.com: Most Helpful Customer Reviews

This work by de Mul is the definitive synthesis on Dilthey available in English. It not only develops the thought of Dilthey chronologically, it also sets his thought in an overall structure that he terms the Critique. This structure solves one of the major problems of Dilthey studies - how to organize his disparate thoughts when no definitive work of his exists. Until this book, most other treatments, while helpful and informative, have not managed to rise to the precision and clarity of this work.

One of most helpful aspects to this book is the author's ability to locate and identify the tensions in Dilthey and provide the structure that is needed to understand them. By describing how ambivalence, contingency, and finitude serve as structuring ideas to Dilthey's thought, the author saves a reader from finding Dilthey contradictory and incomprehensible.

One final aspect of praise for this work is the clarity of thought and writing. A helpful and detailed Table of Contents allows any reader to quickly discover the argument and structure of the book.In addition, most esoteric and technical terms and ideas (including many 19th Century German philosophical concepts) are explained quickly and understandably in a way that allows one unfamiliar with these ideas to follow. These explanations, however, do not sidetrack the argument from its purpose and therefore do not prove distracting to one more familiar with the history and ideas referenced.

In conclusion, after having read many works on Dilthey, I find this to be the clearest, most informative, and best written of them all. Not only will it introduce one to a great philosopher, it will also provide a synthesis of his thought that is invaluable.

Published in Books
Monday, 21 November 2011 08:02

Horizons of Hermeneutics

Jos de Mul. Horizons of Hermeneutics: Intercultural Hermeneutics in a Globalizing World.  Frontiers of Philosophy in China. Vol. 6, No. 4 (2011), 628-655.

DOI: 10.1007/s11466-011-0159-x (DOI) 10.1007/s11466-011-0159-x

Abstract  Starting from the often-used metaphor of the “horizon of experience” this article discusses three different types of intercultural hermeneutics, which respectively conceive hermeneutic interpretation as a widening of horizons, a fusion of horizons, and a dissemination of horizons. It is argued that these subsequent stages in the history of hermeneutics have their origin in—but are not fully restricted to—respectively premodern, modern and postmodern stages of globalization. Taking some striking moments of the encounter between Western and Chinese language and philosophy as example, the particular merits and flaws of these three types of hermeneutics are being discussed. The claim defended is that although these different types of hermeneutics are mutually exclusive from a theoretical point of view, as interpreting beings in the current era we depend on each of these distinct hermeneutic practices and cannot avoid living on them simultaneously.

Keywords intercultural hermeneutics, globalization, horizon of interpretation, premodernism, modernism, postmodernism

Jos de Mul and Renée van de Vall (eds.). Gimme Shelter. Global Discourses in Aesthetics. International Yearbook of Aesthetics. Vol. 15. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013.

Gimme Shelter. Global discourses in aesthetics contains a series of reflections on the impact of globalization on the arts and the aesthetic reflection on the arts. The authors – fifteen distinguished  aestheticians from all over the world -   discuss a variety of aesthetic questions brought forth by the aforementioned process of globalization. How do artistic practices and aesthetic experiences change in response to these developments? How should we articulate these changes on the theoretical level? When reflections on the significance of art and aesthetic experiences can no longer pretend to be universal, is it still possible to lay claim to  a wider validity than merely that of one’s own particular culture? What type of vocabulary allows for mutual – dialogical or even polylogical – exchanges and understandings when different traditions meet, without obliterating local differences? Is there a possibility for a creative re-description of globalization? And is there a meaning of ‘the global’ that cannot be reduced to universalism and unification? Can we seek shelter in a legitimate way?

Free download of the entire book (Open Access edition)

 

Published in Books
Jos de Mul. The work of art in the age of digital recombination. In J. Raessens, M. Schäfer, M. v. d. Boomen, Lehmann and S. A.-S. & Lammes (eds.), Digital Material: Anchoring New Media in Daily Life and Technology. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, May 2009, 95-106.

Artists, from the prehistoric painters who engraved and painted figures on cave walls to new media artists whose work depends on computer technologies, have always used media. Media, used here in the broad sense as ‘means for presenting information’[1], are not innocent means. Ever since Kant’s Copernican revolution, we know that experience is constituted and structured by the forms of sensibility and the categories of human understanding, and after the so-called linguistic and mediatic turns in philosophy, it is generally assumed that media play a crucial role in the configuration of the human mind and experience. Media are interfaces that mediate not only between us and our world (designation), but also between us and our fellow man (communication), and between us and ourselves (self-understanding). Aesthetic experience is no exception: artistic media are interfaces that not only structure the imagination of the artist, but the work of art and the aesthetic reception as well.[2]

In this paper I aim to contribute to this reflection by analyzing the way the computer interface constitutes and structures aesthetic experience. My point of departure will be Walter Benjamin‘s ‘The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction‘,  first published in the Zeitschrift  für Sozialforschung  in 1936. In this epochal essay Benjamin investigates how mechanical reproduction  transforms the work of art, claiming that in this ontological transformation  the cult value, which once characterized the classical work of art, has been replaced by exhibition value. The thesis I will defend in this paper is, firstly, that in the age of digital recombination, the database constitutes the ontological model of the work of art and, secondly, that in this transformation the exhibition value is being replaced by what we might call manipulation value.

Published in Book chapters
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