Jos de Mul. Cyberspace Odyssey. Towards a Virtual Ontology and Anthropology. Castle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010, 334 p.
The emergence of the hominids, more than five million years ago, marked the start of the human odyssey through space and time. This book deals with the last stage of this fascinating journey: the exploration of cyberspace and cybertime. Through the rapid global implementation of information and communication technologies, a new realm for human experience and imagination has been disclosed. Reversely, these postgeographical and posthistorical technologies have started to colonize our bodies and minds. Taking Homer’s Odyssey and Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey as his starting point, the author investigates the ‘informatization of the worldview’, focusing on its implications for our culture–arts, religion, and science–and, ultimately, our form of life.
Moving across a wide range of disciplines, varying from philosophical anthropology and palaeontology to information theory, and from astrophysics to literary, film and new media studies, the author discusses our ‘cyberspace odyssey’ from a reflective position beyond euphoria and nostalgia. His analysis is as profound as nuanced and deals with issues that will be high on the agenda for many decades to come.
In 2003 a Dutch Edition of Cyberspace Odyssey received the Socrates Prize for the best philosophy book published in Dutch.
About the author
Jos de Mul is Full Professor of Philosophical Anthropology at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. He has also taught at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) and Fudan University (Shanghai). Since 2007 he is President of the International Association of Aesthetics (IAA) and since 2005 he is vice-president of the Helmuth Plessner Gesellschaft e.V.
He has published more than twenty books and more than hundred and eighty articles in various scientific journals in the fields of Philosophical Anthropology, the History of (Modern) Continental Philosophy, Philosophy of Art, Philosophy of Information and Communication Technology. His publications include Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy (State University of New York Press, 1999) and The Tragedy of Finitude. Dilthey’s Hermeneutics of Life (Yale University Press, 2004). His work has been translated to more than a dozen languages.
“Jos de Mul's Cyberspace Odyssey is an original, timely, lively, and well written book.”
—Hubert L. Dreyfus (Department of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley).
“As much about cybertime as cyberspace, this book talks foremost about cyberbeing. The journey explores the tidal waters of the real and the virtual, by leaving no concept unexamined, including the roles of causality and mutual dependencies between the real, the virtual, and the hybrid that are shaping our lives.”
—Piet Hut (Theoretical Astrophysics and Computer Modeling, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton)
“De Mul proposes that the human exploration of cyberspace shifts our mindset from establishing what is the case, to what might be possible. This view indeed provides the leitmotif for this delightful, sophisticated, and imaginative set of essays into how are ways of life are increasingly absorbed into the unbounded realms of digitalized reality. Moving across multiple academic disciplines, and linking scholarly concerns to multiple sites of everyday life, De Mul offers us all a virtual feast.”
—Kenneth J. Gergen (Department of Psychology, Swarthmore College, author of Relational Being, Beyond Self and Community)
"...its philosophical readings of various aspects of so-called cyerbspace, in particular of information and religion, are clearly written and engaging"
Nicholas Gane, University of York in Information, Communication & Society, 14:2, 294-295 (2011)
Revies of previous books:
The British Journal of Aesthetics (2001) reviewed Romantic Desire in (Post)Modern Art and Philosophy as follows: “As it illuminates various shades of aesthetic ambiguity in (post)modern art and culture, Romantic Desire opens up a new arena where previously isolated, contradictory forces can finally come together and communicate. In creating such space De Mul takes the crucial preliminary steps towards understanding and reconciling the ageless conflict between our desire for the eternal and our awareness of its inaccessibility”.
The Review of Metaphysics (2007) wrote about the The Tragedy of Finitude: "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".