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Flusser and Descartes. The Unremitting Mindfulness of Thinking and Being

Of all modern scholars, Descartes is probably the one who has met with most criticism, and even though his formulation of the cogito sounds pretty obvious, Hobbes, Locke, Leibniz, Spinoza, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre and Žižek have repeatedly tried to poke holes in his ideas. The lifelong effects of the Cartesian doubt worried Vilém Flusser too. To him, Cartesianism is Christianity through and through. What exactly, in Flusser’s view, is so unacceptable about the Cartesian doubt, then? Why does Flusser identify Descartes with Christianity? Can we appreciate Flusser’s concern with the Cartesian doubt without losing the excitement and intimacy of grappling with Descartes’ metaphysics? Of course, Flusser’s critique is not mainstream; and we can even hear traces of Heidegger’s voice in the background. Still, Flusser’s objection is unique and interesting, making it a refreshing alternative in the scholarly discussion of Descartes. One aim of the paper is to turn the sword of Flusser’s critique of the Cartesian doubt against Descartes’ own detractors.

Descartes and Flusser (PDF 416.63 KB)

Telematic Freedom and Information Paradox

The text discusses the relations between the notions of freedom and information in Vilém Flusser’s philosophy and aims at systematizing this complex problem. Flusser’s ideas on freedom in the ages of programs are deeply indebted to modern science, in particular to thermodynamics (Léon Brillouin), biochemistry (Jacques Monod), and information theory (Claude E. Shannon). In this article I present this indebtedness, contextualize it within a wider scope of Flusser’s oeuvre, and argue that the notion of information – borrowed from the hard sciences – does not provide firm grounds for his existentialism or his philosophy of communication. On the contrary, information (understood by Flusser in a twofold and contradictory way as entropy and negentropy) introduces foundational ambivalence and ambiguity to his philosophical project. I conclude that information – as defined by mathematicians and physicists – allows us to express freedom in the technoscientific era of programs in a non-reductionist fashion.

Telematic Freedom (PDF 342 KB)

Meu bem, você não entendeu nada: a generosidade cética de Vilém Flusser

The sentence “My dear, you didn’t understand nothing” was one of the preferred sentences of Vilém Flusser in his dialogs with scholars and visitors. But this judgment was not used as a vain statement of superiority. On the contrary: Flusser wanted to demonstrate the impossibility of any final truth, underlining the necessity of doubt and of the fictional structure of all our perception. Flusser’s famous sentence, apparently destructive, was not less than an unsuspected generosity, giving the scholars and visitors back what most kinds of opinion eliminate, that is, the doubt and the phenomenological view to see things from more than one perspective.

Meu bem (PDF 177.95 KB)

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