PhD & FIZ Karlsruhe
1945 — The world wakes up from the nightmare of nazism and fascism with millions of victims, genozide, and destruction of cultural memory in Europe and all over the world. At the other end there is a small country called República Oriental del Uruguay, that is to say, the Republic East of the River Uruguay, which is the reason why Uruguayans called themselves Orientales, with a pre-colonial history of different aborigines groups, wrongly called indios particularly guaraníes and charrúas. But the new continent called America was not India as Columbus believed. The Sevillian explorer Juan Díaz de Solís (1470 - 1516) reached and named the Río de la Plata in 1516. Nomen was not omen in this case, just a fata morgana of the intruders maybe confused with the colour of the sweet water of this river that looked like the Atlantic Ocean. Solís was killed by the indians as he tried to take some of them as evidence of his travels. (See: Isidro Más de Ayala (1899-1960): Y por el sur el Río de la Plata, Montevideo 1958, p. 24). After more than three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule the oath to the Uruguayan constitution took place on July 18, 1830, partly following but not achieving the project of General José Gervasio Artigas (1764-1850) inspired by the ideals of European enlightenment and the US Declaration of Independence aimed at creating a union with other La Plata provinces. But the rulers in Buenos Aires and Brazil had their own plans. Montevideo with a natural harbour not flooded, as the harbour of Buenos Aires, by the debris coming from the Brazilian forest down the river Uruguay — a reason why Uruguayan beaches are so beautiful — was particularly useful for the British Empire. Under the mediation of Lord John Ponsonby (1770-1855) the British supported the independence movement of this small but strategic important country. During the 19th century thousands of European immigrants, particularly from Italy and Spain, similarly to the immigrants from Ireland, England and other European countries fleeing to North America, arrived to the Río de la Plata leaving their countries with the hope of a better life but with less expectations than their predecessors to become rich soon, hacerse la América, and go back home or dreaming about it. Most of them remained and became Uruguayans cultivating their customs, languages and beliefs hybridizing the Spanish heritage.
The indios were persecuted but not fully exterminated during the colonial time. A group of them got into an ambush in 1831 in a place called Salsipuedes — it was supposed to be a peace meeting — under the command of Bernabé Rivera, a nephew of the first Uruguayan president Fructuoso Rivera, so that, according to the dominating narrative, they were ethnically extinct. Uruguay un país sin indios as was said later. But they were, in fact, silenced. Forty of them were killed and three hundred made prisoners. Four of them, María Micaela Guyunusa, 2 months pregnant, Laureano Tacuavé Martínez, a young warrier selected by the Government, the cacique Vaimaca Pirú and the chamán Senacua Senaqué, called los últimos charrúas, were sent to Paris in 1833 as suggested by a school director in Montevideo, François De Curel, to be exhibited for scientific purposes, as it was said, being seemingly the last survivors of this 'race'. The rest of the prisoners were sold as slaves. The four sent to Paris were physiologically analyzed at the Académie des Sciences and then exhibited to the public in 19, Chaussé-d'Antin, 9ème arrondissement. Entrance 5 francs, then 2 because of lack of interest. Senaqué, who was wounded during the ambush, died in Paris, the diagnosis being melancholy. The new born child was called María Mónica Michaela Igualdad Libertad. Due to reluctance of the public opinion in Paris, De Curel took them to Lyon and sold them to a circus. Then he disappeared. Guyunusa died in the Hôtel-Dieu of Lyon (Sources: Wikipedia; Ninguna Imagen es Inocente: Los Cuatro Charrúas - Museo Histórico Cabildo de Montevideo: video). The Uruguayan poet Juan Zorrilla de San Martín (1855-1931) wrote the epic poem Tabaré (1886) that tells the romantic story of the charrúa Tabaré and the Spanish Blanca, Tabaré being the son of the cacique Caracé and the Spanish Magdalena. José Luis Zorrilla de San Martín (1891-1975) son of Juan Zorrilla de San Martín, immortalized the charrúas with sculptures. From savages they turned to heroes in the early twentieth century one hundred years after the massacre. But it is an ambiguous narrative. Rafael learned in the history book at school that the charrúas walked looking down and were melancholic (cabisbajos y meditabundos).
A different but no less brutal fatum was the one of some twenty thousand African slaves brought by ships of different nationalities between 1750 and 1810. In 1778 there were some 1360 thousand slaves in Montevideo, ca. 20% of the population. The amount increased up to approximately 5000 in 1790. In 1839 a treaty, ratified in 1841, with Great Britain was signed in order to stop the traffic. The slavery was formally abolished in December 12, 1842 at the beginning of a civil war called "Guerra Grande" (1838-1852). The abolition of slavery was one of the major issues of Freemasonry of which the founder of the Capurro family, Giovanni Battista Capurro (Voltri 1798-Montevideo 1872), was a member. Il cavaliere was an Italian entrepreneur, married to the Spanish Prudencia de Castro (1821-1888), ship owner, capitano di longo corso between Montevideo and Genova, with political and cultural influence (founder of the Italian hospital, Central Railway, Italian bank, Solís Theatre etc.) and a large offspring, Rafael belonging to the fourth generation. Giobatta, as he was called, who arrived to Montevideo in 1819, was a friend to Giuseppe Garibaldi whom he helped to build the ship Speranza with which he (Garibaldi) went back to Italy in 1848. One of Giovanni Battista's grandsons, Haroldo Capurro, married Rafael's grandmother Elida Etchegaray whose father Pedro Etchegaray (1850-1935), a family coming originally from the Pays Basque, was an entrepreneur and land owner. Rafael's father roots as an agricultural engineer (ingeniero agrónomo) can be found here.
Rafael was born in Montevideo
in November 20, 1945 as son of Raquel Fonseca
(1921-1946) and Mario Capurro
(1917-2006), the second child after Raquel (1941). Their mother died of
tuberculosis soon after Rafael's birth in February 2, 1946. The
the antibiotic streptomycin in 1946 came too late.
Matilde Fonseca, Mario Capurro and family (Raquel, Rafael, Mario, Matilde, Martín, Emita, Rosina, Mario, Pablo, María, Matilde (from left to right)
Rafael and his family spent
the long and hot summer vacations (January/February) in the estancia (farm)
Rincón de los Tapes,
Rincón, managed by Rafael's father, located in the Departamento
de Durazno along the Río Negro that cuts
Uruguay in two pieces. It was a
river with sand dunes and a lot of meanders flooded later on by the Represa de
Baygorria, a hydroelectric power plant
inaugurated in 1960.
He went to a
primary (six years) and secondary school (four years) run by the Marist
Brothers, some of them Germans, fleeing from nazism in the forties
two years called preparatorios to
a school run by the Jesuits a change
influenced his future life. While
Rafael's mother went to the school of the French Dominican Sisters, his
mother, Matilde, was sent to the German school until 1939 located near
the family lived. It was a pragmatic decision, as Rafael was told.
was passionate of French culture, wrote poems in French as well as
in Spanish bringing them to her grand children when she and her husband
came to El Rincón
the Summer. She painted wonderful miniatures.
Rafael joined the Societas Iesu (SJ) in 1963 entering in the novitiate located in a place called Punta de Rieles, a rural area some 14 km outside of the capital Montevideo. The new uncompleted building turned into a jail between 1968 and 1972, then into a jail for some 600 women political prisoners during the civil-military dictatorship (1973-1985), and again into a jail since 2010. The two years novitiate were the beginning of the Jesuit curriculum, followed by two years of humanistic studies in the Juvenate (juniorado) located in Padre Hurtado, a Chilean commune part of Greater Santiago in Chile. After the Juvenate, three years philosophy at the Colegio Máximo, called El Máximo, located in San Miguel (Buenos Aires Province), then two years working as school teacher and eventually four years of Theology with some kind of specialization after it. It was a long walk. The Colegio Máximo was a large building dated from 1928 closed in 2019 when the Faculties of Philosophy and Theology belonging to the Universidad del Salvador also run by the Jesuits became part of the Universidad de Córdoba. These educational facilities, both in Padre Hurtado and Buenos Aires, that are now centers of spirituality, were open to Jesuit students (in the late sixties also to male and female students and professors) from different Latin American countries.
When Rafael began the
novitiate, the Second Ecumenical Council or Vatican II (October 1962 -
1965) had just started opening doors and windows for fresh air or an aggiornamento,
as Pope John XXIII called it, of the Catholic Church, set forth after
of John XXIII in June 1963 by John Paul I and John Paul II. The
novitiate was a
time for testing the novice on whether he was ready to consecrate his
maiorem Dei gloriam. This included several experiences such as
building a house
for a family that the novice master happened to met without shelter in
in Montevideo and brought to the novitiate. The novices built the house
them in Punta de Rieles collecting money and material from several
month working at a hospital belonged also to the experiences during the
novitiate as well as a full month of Ignatian spiritual exercises. At
of the two years, the novices committed themselves to the vows of
and obedience and were sent to the juvenate in Chile in a small
airplane with a
tortue painted on the cockpit that could not fly higher than some
meters through the high mountains of the Andes, using masks, of course.
The juvenate was a time of
humanistic studies such as Greek, Latin, History of Art,
Rhetoric, European and
Latin American Literature, Biblical Theology, French, methodology of
interpretation, Greek Tragedy and Anthropology.
Santiago de Chile 1927 - Punta de Tralca 2003
Renato Hasche was his Spiritual in Colegio Loyola (Padre Hurtado, Chile) (1965-1966). Professor of History of Art.
Rafael wrote essays on
Sophokles' Oedipus Rex, the development of
the Romanic and Gothic columns, and
on Julien Green Le visionnaire. Together with a
mate from Argentina and a group
of students they spent some days in the Andes, admired the flight of a
and ate ice with condensed milk. The first night was very cold
Chilean students protected freezing Rafael with newspaper until he got
a poncho from a farmer near
the camp for the next nights. The
Jesuits had a
holiday house in the Rancagua province, south of Santiago, called La Leonera,
now a hotel, the
chapel being the living room. To the
the juvenate belonged a real earthquake, as well as one caused by the
joking in the night moving the thin wood divisions of the sleeping
Uruguayans and Argentinians. Panic was the result in both cases.
The juniores built during the weekends small wood houses in the camps with extreme poverty (poblaciones callampas) under the leadership of a father from The Netherlands who managed to get financial support from his country of origin. Rafael's mates from the Andean countries such as Bolivia or Perú, asked often why do they have to learn classic Greek as they were supposed to announce the Gospel in Quechua and Aymará. The classes on Greek Tragedy included a theatrical representation of Sophocles' Antigone in which Rafael played the chorus leader greeting the rising sun. The juniores went often to the cinema and to the theatre. Unforgettable: Ingmar Bergman The Seventh Seal (1957), Nikos Kazantzakis Zorba the Greek (1964), Eugène Ionesco La Cantatrice Chauve (1950), Samuel Becket Waiting for Godot (1953), Federico Fellini Giulietta degli spiriti (1965), Robert Bresson Au Hasard Balthasar (1966), Carol Reed The Third Man (1949/50), Federico Fellini La dolce Vita (1960). Highlights in literature were, among many others, Fjodor Dostoevsky, Albert Camus and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The star among the theologians was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
In the Juvenate there was a, for that time, high tech music room where the juniores could enjoy Bach Cantatas and classic music. Some juniores played popular drum music from their Latin American countries. The Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez created the Misa Criolla (1964) that was often played in Padre Hurtado. The inspiration came to Ramírez during a stage in Würzburg in the early fifties at the Mariannhill Missionaries, a monks institute, originated from Mariannhill, a suburb near Pinetown in KwaZulu Natal (South Africa). Two sisters, Elisabeth and Regina Brückner who worked at the institute in Würzburg, told him that the big house in front of the monastery had been a nazi concentration camp and that they had risked their lives bringing the prisoners something to eat. Some years later Ramírez composed the Misa Criolla and dedicated it to them. During this time the rector allowed the juniores not to use the cassock. They handed it out to him in a funny ceremony.
A priest from The Netherlands taught them yoga. Rafael practiced it all his life. After hearing a talk by a member of the French congregation Petits Frères de Jésus, created in 1933 inspired by Charles de Foucault (1858-1916), Rafael asked for permission to join them for some weeks working in a wood manufacture plant near Santiago. The worker-priests movement was a matter of debate in the Catholic church and closely related to the Theology and Philosophy of Liberation that was in statu nascendi. A highlight of the humanistic studies in Chile were the courses on Greek Art based on a wonderful collection of slides and art books published by Editions d'Art Albert Skira. No wonder that some ten years later, having left the Jesuits in 1971, Rafael spent his first long vacations in Greece after moving to Germany in 1972. It was, of course, a Wiedersehen.
was a time of critical reflection dealing with untenable situations of
injustice all over Latin America and beyond. The Jesuits created
research and social action (Centro de
Investigación y Acción Social, CIAS)
whose members had a strong impact on the young generation. It was
the Cuban revolution (1953-1959) with leading political figures such as
Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The debate between Marxism and
Christianity belonged to the core theoretical and practical issues
students of philosophy and theology in El Máximo. What was taught
at the Faculty of
Philosophy in 1968-1970?
Rafael played Basque Pelota that he knew from the time in El Rincón. This sport helped him in time of existential crisis.
Rafael's academic mentor during these three years was Juan Carlos Scannone SJ (1931-2019)
who made his PhD in Philosophy in Munich with a thesis on the French philosopher Maurice Blondel (1861-1949) under the guidance of Max Müller. The thesis was published with the title: "Being and Incarnation. On the Ontological Background of the Early Works of Maurice Blondel" (1968). Following these paths of thought, Rafael's master thesis (licenciatura) dealt with the meaning of practice in Blondel's "L'Action". His seminar papers focused on Marx criticism of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, truth as value in Augustine, the hermeneutic question of the criterion of meaning of language, and the evolution of the concept of mystery in Paulus. He wrote book reviews for the journal Stromata, edited by the Jesuits, and was assistant to lecturers on anthropology and epistemology. The philosophy of liberation (filosofía de la liberación) was emerging. Scannone together with Enrique Dussel (1934-) and other public intellectuals organized seminars and conferences dealing with it. Both thinkers were influenced by Husserl and Heidegger as well as by Emmanuel Lévinas' "Totalité et infini" (1961).
After former president Juan
Domingo Perón (1895-1974) came back from exile to Argentina in
1973 and died in
1974 the forces of repression came to power. Some of Rafael's mates and
teachers were kidnapped and/or assassinated. Among them Franz Jalics SJ
(1927-2021) who was his director
espiritual and helped him to make the
leave the Jesuits in 1971.
Jalics, a professor of Fundamental Theology, left in 1974 Colegio Máximo together with his mate Orlando Yorio SJ (1932-2000) in order to share the life of the poor in the villa miseria (slums) Bajo Flores in Buenos Aires. It was said that they collaborated with the guerrillas. They were kidnapped by the military in May 23, 1976. They asked Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina, to intervene but they did not accept Bergoglio's decision telling them to come back to Colegio Máximo. Both were set free in October 23, 1976. Jalics, who lived since 1978 in Germany, died in February 13, 2021 in Budapest where he was born. Rafael met Jalics in Germany. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, since 2013 Pope Francis, was a theology student at the time Rafael was studying philosophy. Jalics and Yorio were among his professors. He was 33 years old as he was ordained a priest in 1969.
As Rafael left the Jesuits he had started a formal procedure to write a PhD under the guidance of Scannone on the concept of time in Hegel and Heidegger. But, hélas, it happened to be a doctoral thesis at Düsseldorf University in 1978 on the concept of information. Rafael and Scannone met several times in Germany. He wrote an article on Scannone, an acknowledgement for all what he had learned from him, published in "Philosophie der Gegenwart in Einzeldarstellungen" ("Philosophy in the Present Time. A Selection") edited by Julian Nida-Rümelin and Elif Ösmen (Stuttgart: Kröner 1991, 2007).
The Nuclear Energy Documentation Center was the national input center for International Nuclear Information System (INIS) run by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna created in 1970 in collaboration with 127 Member States and 24 international organizations. Why should a UN Agency be committed to build a scientific bibliography? The reason was the Sputnik crisis caused by the Soviets who launched Sputnik 1 in 1957. The United States were not fully aware of the scientific advances in the Soviet Union. The result was the creation of NASA (1958) and the Space Race. In 1963, Alvin M. Weinberg (1915-2006), Director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and president of the John F. Kennedy's Panel of Science Information Committee, issued the report "Science, Government, and Information" that led not only to the creation of the INIS data base but also the development of the scientific information infrastructure in Germany particularly in the field of nuclear energy with a basis at the Nuclear Energy Documentation Center. After finishing the two year theoretical courses on Scientific Documentation offered by a specialized institute in Frankfurt paralleled to the practical work in the Nuclear Energy Documentation Center (1972-1973), where Rafael worked as a documentalist (1974-1975) and later on at the project of the German Government for the creation of scientific information centers in different fields, so-called Fachinformationszentren or FIZ. The Nuclear Energy Documentation Center was restructured and renamed into FIZ Karlsruhe.
Rafael met Annette Fiek at
ZAED. They married in 1974. They went to Uruguay every two years where
her family enjoyed the life in the country side and the nice beaches.
at the Institute of Philosophy of Düsseldorf University that was qualified with magna cum laude. Professor Norbert Henrichs, director of the Philosophy Documentation Centre at Düsseldorf University, was his mentor.
Back to information practice
at FIZ Karlsruhe (1980-1986)
he worked as a personal assistant to the
scientific director, Dr.
During this time he
research in the field of the philosophical foundation of information
that led to the book "Hermeneutics
of Scientific Information" (1986) that became his habilitation (post-doc) a few years
He invited three colleagues, an engineer and
two physicists, to read
of Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker. In 1980 Rafael asked von
Weizsäcker if they
could visit him in order to discuss some of the issues they had dealt
was a very friendly meeting in Weizsäcker's home in Starnberg,
Rafael took notes of the dialogue and published it in Spanish in the
newspaper "Opinar". Forty
years later he was invited to revise this
text for a book on "Theoretical Information Studies - Information in
World," edited by Mark Burgin and Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic (New Jersey
2020). The result were two papers: "The Structure of
the World. Unity of
Nature and the Problem of Time" and "The Debt of Natural
Interview with Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker."
CARL FRIEDRICH VON WEIZSÄCKER
Kiel 1912 - Starnberg 2007
During the eighties he met Hans-Georg Gadamer
Heidelberg in order to discuss the relation between hermeneutics and
informatics. It was the beginning of a long and complex path on what he
called later on digital
Karlsruhe Institute of
Technology (KIT): Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems
collaborated on several occasions with the Institute of Technology
Assessment and Systems Analysis at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
dealing with ethical issues of ICT, nanotechnology, and
synthetic biology based on his experience at the European Group on
Ethics and New Technologies (EGE).
Armin Grunwald (Head of Institute)
Rafael worked also closely over many years with Klaus Wiegerling, applied professor of philosophy at University of Kaiserslautern and KIT researcher, on ethical and epistemological issues of digital technology. Wiegerling is editor of the Springer VS book series "Anthropologie, Epistemologie, Gesellschaft".
This was an important
conference in Rafael's life not only because he met there famous
Donald E. Knuth, Joseph A. Goguen, Kristen Nygaard, Douglas T. Ross,
Coy, Heinz von Förster and Christiane
Floyd herself but also
because it dealt
with the impact of constructivism and hermeneutics in theory and
Computer Science. Rafael had written on Terry Winograd and Fernando
and Cognition" (1986) and he talked about
"Informatics and Hermeneutics".
contribution was published in:
Floyd, Heinz Züllighoven, Reinhard Budde, Reinhard Keil-Slawik
Development and Reality Construction Berlin:
Springer, 1992, 363-375.
He had the opportunity to thank Christiane Floyd for a long-standing academic and personal friendship as he was asked to hold the Laudatio when the University of Paderborn awarded Christiane with the Doctor Honoris Causa in October 27, 2017 .
Universität Paderborn, Johannes Pauly): from left: Prof. Dr.
Schirmer, Universität Hamburg, Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Stefan
Technische Universität Berlin, Prof. em. Dr. Dr. h. c. Christiane
Floyd, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Reinhard Keil, Dekan der Fakultät für
Elektrotechnik, Informatik und Mathematik, Universität Paderborn,
Dr. Birgit Riegraf, Vizepräsidentin für Lehre, Studium und
Qualitätsmanagement, Universität Paderborn, and Prof. em. Dr.
Capurro, Hochschule der Medien Stuttgart.
Rafael's wife, Annette, who worked at
Fachinformationszentrum Karlsruhe, was sent to the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna where she worked in the field of
technical documentation for the International Nuclear Information
during three years (1995-1997). Rafael learned a lot
about the INIS project that he knew already from the beginnings at ZAED
(Zentralstelle für Atomkernenergie-Dokumentation) in the early
seventies as well as from his activities as personal assistant to Dr.
Werner Rittberger, the scientific director of FIZ Karlsruhe.
During this time he did further research on the concept of information as well as on ethical and social aspects of digital information systems in cooperation with Prof. Peter Fleissner from the Vienna Technical University (TU Wien). See for instance this dialogue "Is a unified theory of information feasible?" in the afternath of the second conference on the Foundations of Information Science (FIS) held in 1996 in Vienna, following the first conference in 1995 in Madrid. Peter and his colleague Wolfgang Hofkirchner coined the so-called "Capurro's trilemma".
"The thoughtful and practically oriented search for common values and principles should not overlook or 'forget' the complexity and variety of human cultures that are a genuine expression of humaneness, and not something to be overcome. This concerns, in particular, the notion of privacy conceived as what is proper to human self-understanding in being able to withdraw from others' gaze and lead one's own life shared with certain freely chosen others. An intercultural view of privacy must pay attention also to what is in-between cultures, allowing the individually and socially moulded self to transform and enrich its identity through the cultural interplay both within and between cultures. Phenomena of cultural exclusion are a sign that a specific cultural ethos has lost contact with the common source, i.e. the shared world-openness within which all cultures define themselves in an open exchange and mutual recognition and estimation of ways of life." (Capurro et.al., op. cit. p. 233)
Technoethics of Interaction with
Communication, Bionic, and Robotic systems (FP 6, 2005-2008) under the
leadership of Guglielmo
Tamburrini (University of Naples Federico II).
1) Techno-Ethical-Case-Studies in Robotics, Bionics, and Related AI Agent Information Technologies (R. Capurro, Guglielmo Tamburrini, Jutta Weber)
3) Ethics and Robotics: This paper was a contribution to the workshop "L'uomo e la macchina. Passato e presente (Pisa 1967-2007)" organized by the Università di Pisa, Dipartimento di Filosofia Pisa, May 17-18, 2007. Published in Italian: Etica e robotica. I robot, maschere del desiderio umano in: I quaderni di Athenet. La rivista dell'Università di Pisa. No. 20, July 2007, 9-13. Spanish translation in Revista interdisciplinaria de bioética, Puebla (México) Enero-Junio, 1 (1), 2010. Published also in: Rafael Capurro and Michael Nagenborg (eds.). Ethics and Robotics. Heidelberg: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft 2009, 117-123. The ideas developped in this paper were discussed at several meetings of the EU Project ETHICBOTS.
Rafael's main contribution was the Deliverable 3.2.2. Ethical Evaluation https://www.etica-project.eu/deliverable-files
EU Workshop ETICA, Brussels, March 31, 2011. Video.
Rafael participated at the Open Forum Davos 2008 in cooperation with the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum and the Schweizerischer Evangelischer Kirchebund, Section: "Virtual Worlds: Fiction or Reality?", Participants: Philip Rosedale (CEO, Linden Labs/Second Life), Joseph Weizenbaum (MIT, USA), Reid Hoffman (President, LinkedIn Corp., USA), Florence Develey (Reinach/Basel), Rafael Capurro (HdM). Moderation: Loïc Le Meur (Seesmic, USA), Davos, 26. January 2008: World Economic Forum: Webcasts, Podcasts, Vodcasts.
The Group worked on ten Opinions. In two of them was Rafael a rapporteur:
Opinion n. 16 Ethical
aspects of patenting inventions
involving human stem cells
2007 - 2010
Opinion n. 21 Ethical Aspects
Rafael published an article dealing with his work as member of the EGE: "Ethics and public policy in Europe" in Stefano Rodotà and Paolo Zatti (eds.): Tratatto di Biodiritto (Milano 2010).
first row: Diána Bánáti, Carlo Casini, Emmanuel Agius, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Krzysztof Marczewski, Pere Puigdomenech Rosell, Linda Nielsen
second row: Günter Virt, Ines de Beaufort, Jozef Glaza, Anne Cambon-Thomsen, Julian Kinderlerer, Paula Martinho da Silva, Rafael Capurro.
By the end of the millenium, particularly since the invention of the internet and the widespread use of social media, ethical issues of digital technologies became a matter of broad social and political concern although the academic discussion on ethical issues of information technology was older. It goes back to the fifties with Norbert Wiener and the seventies with Joseph Weizenbaum to mention just two prominent authors. In the beginning it took place mainly in the Western or, more precisely, in the Anglo-Saxon world. Jeroen van den Hoven founded the CEPE (Computer Ethics Philosophical Enquiry) conferences as well as the Kluwer journal Ethics and Information Technology (E&IT) (first issue in 1999). The International Society of Ethics and IT (INSEIT) was formally established in 2001, Deborah Johnson being the first president.
Inspired by Wolfgang von
Keitz, his mate at Stuttgart Library school, and in cooperation
Hausmanninger (University of Augsburg) Rafael created the International Center
for Information Ethics (ICIE)
in 1999 inviting a small group of colleagues from
different countries and disciplines. It grew quickly and was soon
an international partner worldwide.
In cooperation with the Karlsruhe
for Art and Media (ZKM, Zentrum für Kunst und Medien) that hosted
sponsored by the VolkswagenStiftung ICIE organized the first
symposium on intercultural issues of information ethics held at ZKM
in October 4-6, 2004. About fifty participants from all over the world
invited. It dealt with Internet for Social and Political Development:
Building; Internet for Cultural Development: Restructuring the Media;
for Economic Development: Empowering the People. Rafael spoke about Intercultural Information Ethics.
Peter Weibel with Rafael Capurro and participants of the ICIE Symposium
Ethics (2004). Editors: Rafael Capurro, Thomas Hausmanninger, Felix
This list of topics over
fifteen years reflects the changing agenda of Information Ethics. Both
projects, ICIE and IRIE were transferred in 2020 to the University of
Edmonton, Canada and are chaired by Jared Bielby.
INSEIT: International Society for Ethics and Information Technology
CEPE: Computer Ethics - Philosophical Enquiry
CEPE/IACAP 2021 Hamburg July 5-9, 2021: INSEIT Weizenbaum Award
Keynote: Joseph Weizenbaum: A Parrhesiastes in the Digital Age.
International Computer Ethics Conference "Crossing Boundaries: Ethics
interdisciplinary & intercultural relations" University of
International Computer Ethics Conference,
International Computer Ethics Conference:
"Ethics of New Information Technologies", University of Twente
CEPE 2001 Lancaster University, UK: "IT and the Body".
Rafael participated at several meetings of the group Foundations of Information Science such as at the FIS/ISIS 2015: Information Society at the Crossroads — Response and Responsibility of the Sciences of Information, Vienna University of Technology, Vienna, June 3-6, 2015.
He presented a paper
Information." In the abstract he writes:
"This paper deals with the Arabic translation taṣawwur in Averroes' Great Commentary of the term τῶν ἀδιαιρέτων νόησις (ton adiaireton noesis) (thinking of the indivisibles) in Aristotle's De anima and the Latin translation from Arabic with (in-)formatio as quoted by Albertus Magnus. I briefly report on the development of the ontological (informatio materiae) and epistemological meanings of informatio in the Middle Ages as well as on the loss of the ontological meaning in Modernity. Eventually, I interpret informatio in the context of Heidegger's "hermeneutical as". In the conclusion I suggest a future research dealing with Heidegger and Mullā Sadrā and point to Barbara Cassin's concept of the "untranslatables" as a possible path of thinking concerning "Capurro's trilemma"."
Third International Conference on Philosophy of Information (ICPI) (Wu Kun, Joseph Brenner & Jian Wang), June 12-14.
Symposium: Theoretical Information Studies (Mark Burgin) June 12.
Panel in Parallel Sessions: Communication in the Digitalized World: The Role of Messages and Messengers (Rafael Capurro & John Holgate). Panelists: Anna Suorsa, (University of Oulu, Finland), Francesca Vidal (University of Koblenz-Landau); Sarah Spiekermann (Inst. for Manag. Inf. Systems, Vienna Univ. of Economics and Business), Marco Schneider (IBICT, Brazilian Inst. of Inf. on Science and Techn., Rio de Janeiro), Lyn Robinson (Head of Library & Inf. Sc. City Univ. London), June 14, 13.00-13:50. June 14, 10:30-12.00.
Plenary Panel 5: Information Ethics (Rafael Capurro & Jared Bielby) Panelists: Anna Suorsa, (University of Oulu, Finland), Francesca Vidal (University of Koblenz-Landau); Sarah Spiekermann (Inst. for Manag. Inf. Systems, Vienna Univ. of Economics and Business), John Holgate (Director Inf. Resources, St. George Hospital, Sydney), Marco Schneider (IBICT, Brazilian Inst. of Inf. on Science and Techn., Rio de Janeiro), Lyn Robinson (Head of Library & Inf. Sc. City Univ. London), June 14, 13.00-13:50.
Plenary Panel 8: Digital Identity in Society and its Ethical and Legal Implications, (Rafael Capurro & David Sands) (University of Technology, Sweden). Panelists: Göran Collste (Linköping University, Sweden), Marco Schneider (IBICT, Brazilian Inst. of Inf. on Science and Technology), Jared Bielby (University of Alberta), June 15, 18:00-18.50.
See report by Lyn Robinson: On Information, and Digital Ethics: thoughts from International Society for Information Studies 2017 Summit.
African Information Ethics Conference: Ethical Challenges in the Information Age Pretoria, 5-7 February 2007, organized by the University of Pretoria, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA, and the International Center for Information Ethics. The conference was sponsored by the South African Government under the patronage of UNESCO.
UNESCO Workshop on Information Ethics and e-Government in sub-Sahara Africa, co-sponsored by the Government of South Africa, in cooperation with the International Center for Information Ethics (ICIE ), the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Pittsburgh , and the University of Pretoria, Pretoria, 23.-27. Februar 2009.
UNESCO: World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10) Forum: "Towards Knowledge Societies, for Peace and Sustainable Development". Paris, February 25-27, 2013.
WG: Riga Global Meeting of Experts on the Ethical Aspects of
Society, Keynote: Why Information Ethics?; WG Presentation:
in Africa 2007-2013, Riga, October 16-17, 2013
CONNECTing the Dots: Options for Future Action. Conference on UNESCO's Internet Study: Access, free expression, privacy and ethics. Paris, March 3-4, 2015.
International Policy Dialogue on IFAP Priority Areas in the BRICS countries, organized by UNESCO/IFAP and the University of Pretoria, African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE) Keynote: Digital Futures, Cape Town, South Africa, July 4-6, 2018.
conference was born after the CEPE
2005 Sixth International
Computer Ethics: Philosophical Enquiry: "Ethics of New Information
Technologies" held at the University of Twente (Enschede, The
After the conference Rafael and his South-African mate Johannes Britz
a cup of coffee at the train station talking about the lack of interest
concerning Information Ethics in and from Africa. Hannes told him that
do his best to organize a conference in South Africa. He got the
support of his
friend Coetzee Bester (University of Pretoria) who served under the
of President Nelson Mandela and Deputy President F W de Klerk as a
Parliament in South Africa. It was the time after the WSIS (World
Summit on the
Information Society). Information Ethics was an international
world wide. During this event the Africa
Network for Information Ethics
The Pan-African conference in 2007 was the
successful development of information ethics projects across Africa. It
the creation of the African Centre
of Excellence for Information Ethics
at the Department of Information Science of the University of Pretoria
and to a
plethora of conferences, symposia and workshops in several African
well as publications dealing with Information Ethics in Africa (See here). One
outcome of this first Africa Conference on Information Ethics was the Tshwane
Declaration on Information Ethics in Africa .
The Capurro Fiek
Foundation together with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM)
(USA) represented by Provost Johannes B. Britz, had the pleasure to
present the first ANIE (Africa
Network for Information Ethics) Award to Mr. Coetzee Bester (South
Africa) for his outstanding support of information ethics projects in
Workshop on Information Ethics and e-Government in sub-Sahara Africa
Second Africa Information Ethics Conference,
University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana, 6-7 September 2010.
Intercultural Information Ethics from an African Perspective.
Third Africa Information Ethics Conference,
Pretoria (South Africa), 3-7 September 2012.
Ethics in Africa: Cross-cutting Themes. Edited by Dennis
Johannes Britz, Rafael Capurro and Coetzee Bester. Published by
the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics,
Information Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa,
978-1-920527-65-5: Information Ethics in the African Context (pp. 7-20)
On July 4-6,
2018 UNESCO held an International
Policy Dialogue on IFAP (Information for all Programme) Priority Areas
in Cape Town, South Africa, in
cooperation with the Department of Information Science, African Centre
Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE)
at University of Pretoria,
and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) representatives.
the meeting a speech by Frederik Willem de Klerk as well as a visit
to Robben Island took place. In the aftermath both
evident to Rafael that particularly Nelson Mandela's
Walk to Freedom" not only recapitulates his life and his
freedom in South Africa but also the common political will of
leaders to overcome apartheid. Mandela addresses key issues of
ethics and particularly of IFAP topics, namely: information for
information literacy, information preservation, information
multilingualism. Mandela's experience of writing and smuggling his text
example on how freedom of speech can be defended in "heterotopian
spaces" (M. Foucault). Multilingualism from an ethics-political
perspective is a key issue not only at a global level, but also in many
and regions. Mandela's life and work show the dark side of a society in
information and communication are subject to oppression and exclusion
turns to be inhumane, that is to say, morally and politically
is morally evil can be understood as the will to achieve something that
lastly the annihilation of this will. Together with Coetzee Bester,
Johannes Britz and Rachel Fischer he co-edited the book:
During the time as assistant
to the scientific director at FIZ Karlsruhe (1980-1985) Rafael took
international guests. The Chinese Delegation invited him to visit China
March-April 1987 in connection with the visit of a FIZ delegation of
wife was part of. Rafael held lectures in German at the China
Establishment (CAE, Beijing) and at Xi'an University of
German Scientific Information Policy 1974-1986, Information Economy,
of Scientific Information in Germany, Origin and Development of
Science and Research and Education in Information Science in the
of Germany. The manuscript was translated into Chinese.
He also visited the Department of Philosophy at Beijing University where he met Prof. Liu Xiaogan, an expert in Taoist philosophy as well as other faculty colleagues. Rafael met him unexpectedly in 1992 during a sabbatical when visiting several US universities among them Princeton University where Prof. Liu Xiaogan was in exile. He returned later on to China and became a Professor at Beijing Normal University. The talk dealt with the concept of wuwei in Daoist philosophy and its relevance for ecological thinking and practice.
In October 28-29, 2010,
Rafael organized together with the Renmin University of China, School
Philosophy (Prof. Li Maosen) (Beijing), supported by the Chinese
Education, the First International
Conference on China's Information
60 participants, professors and students, from different Chinese
and institutions attended the conference as well non-chinese
Göran Collste and his wife Kristina (Linköping University,
Makoto Nakada (University of Tsukuba, Japan), PhD. Cand. Suyin Yang
of Tsukuba, Japan), Prof. John Weckert (Canberra, Australia), Dr.
(UK, Asia Pacific Network for Moral Education), UNESCO Office Beijing
Doumy, Mr. L. Tabing, MsG. Zeng).
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CHINA'S INFORMATION ETHICS
organized by the Renmin University of China, School of Philosophy (Prof. Li Maosen) and the International Center for Information Ethics
Beijing, P.R. China
October 28-29, 2010
Assembly-2019. Theme: Reshaping the Global Future of Education for
Dalian International Conference Center, Dalian China. Presentation
Rodriguez Fleitas, (Capurro Fiek
Foundation and Universidad de la
República, Uruguay; see here)
27-29 September, 2019.
Prof. Endo, Rafael Capurro, Prof. Sekiguchi, Prof. Oba (from left to right) (ULIS) (1998)
It followed another presentation
at ReGIS on "The
Thought of Information Ethics" in October 3-6, 2007. During these years
Rafael and Makoto Nakada developed an academic and personal
led to common papers and thinking about intercultural issues of
ethics dealing with the concept of privacy.
Visit to Nara with Tadashi Takenouchi (2009)
Tadashi Takenouchi and his wife Akiko, Tokyo 2015
Rafael was invited to participate at the International Symposium on "Information Ethics: The Future of Humanities" in December 8-9, 2010 organized by The Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education (under the coordination of Tadashi Takenouci), The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. He gave a keynote "Beyond Humanisms" published in: Toru Nishigaki and Tadashi Takenouchi (eds.): Information Ethics. The Future of the Humanities, Nagoya City: V2 Solution Publisher 2012, pp. 26-74.
Rafael and Makoto Nakada
Intercultural Dialogue on Roboethics" in: Makoto Nakada
and Rafael Capurro (eds.): The Quest for Information Ethics and
East and West. Research Report on trends in information ethics and
in Japan and the West. ReGIS (Research Group on the Information
ICIE (Internatinal Center for Information Ethics), March 31, 2013,
The Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and the University of Tsukuba organized a joint symposium: Robo-Ethics and "Mind-Body-Schema" of Human and Robot – Challenges for a Better Quality of Life. Rafael gave a keynote on "Intercultural Roboethics for a Robot Age." The proceedings were published in: Makoto Nakada, Rafael Capurro and Koetsu Sato (Eds.): Critical Review of Information Ethics and Roboethics in East and West. Master's and Doctoral Program in International and Advanced Japanese Studies, Research Group for "Ethics and Technology in the Information Era", University of Tsukuba 2017.
Rafael was handed out the
Rafael was handed out the
Letter of request
April 1st 2015
Mr. Rafael Capurro
The Master's and Doctoral Program in International and Advanced Studies, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba, hereby has the honor to offer the position of "Senior Fellow" to you.
"From Japan to the World, from the World to Japan" is the goal we are trying to achieve. We would very much like you to help us in our future activities with your excellent knowledge and experience.
Period April 1st, 2015 - March 31st, 2017
Rafael was invited to
participate at the 2009 Global Forum on Civilization and
Peace organized by The Academy of Korean Studies, Seoul, December
2009. His keynote "Digital
Ethics" was published in: The Academy
of Korean Studies (ed.):
and Peace, Korea: The Academy of Korean Studies 2010, pp. 203-214.
Rafael was invited as keynote
speaker at the International Symposium on Philosophy of Library and
Science: Ethics: Theory and Practice, held in Kastamonu, Turkey,
2014. He talked about "Shapes
of Freedom in the
The talk was well received but his colleagues told him that times were
At the same time he received an invitation
from Iran, thanks to the mediation by Mahmood Khosrowjerdi
(See also here), to
speak at Tehran
University as well as at the Islamic World Science Citation
and Regional Information Center for Science and
in Shiraz both on September 30 - October 4, 2014. He suggested for
Kastamonu keynote. They agreed but wanted the title to be slightly
because, as he was told, the word "freedom" could be misunderstood.
He suggested: "Shapes of Human Interplay in the Digital Age" (See: PP) which
was accepted and promoted publicly. A certificate was handed
out to Rafael.
Central Library and Documentation Center of University of Tehran appreciate your life-long service for the Information Ethics.
Fatima Fahimnia, PhD
In the talk in Shiraz on Intercultural Information Ethics (See: PP) he mentioned the book: Rafael Capurro, Michael Eldred and Daniel Nagel: "Digital Whoness: Identity, Privacy and Freedom in the Cyberworld" (Frankfurt 2013) where he wrote a chapter on Intercultural Information Ethics. A student asked him if he believed that there might be basic incompatibilities between cultures referring implicitly to the ongoing discussion in theory of science — the Kuhn-Popper debate — about the incommensurability of paradigms of which the Iranian student was well aware of. Rafael answered him that he believed language to be the common basis for human beings to understand each other and the world but giving the fact of a plurality of languages and consequently of world views the task of translation was open ended building the core of information ethics as it deals not (alone) with bringing the other into your own language but bringing yourself to the other. The President of the Islamic World Science Citation Center, Prof. Dr. Jafar Mehrad wrote in a certificate handed over to Rafael:
Prof. Rafael Capurro
Respected Prof. Rafael Capurro,
This is to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation for the time and effort you took to share your thoughts and experiences on "Intercultural Information Ethics" with our LIS students and academia. Your ideas will certainly help us give a great boost to our efforts to further institutionalize ethics within our academics.
The audience found your delivery engaging, your comments intriguing and your presentation inspiring for which we are all thankful to you.
We are looking forward to your informative speeches in the near future. Once again thanks for your presence.
Prof. Dr. Jafar Mehrad,
Islamic World Science Citation Center (Shiraz, Iran)
Prof. Jafar Mehrad and Rafael Capurro
September 30, 2014
Seminário Internacional de saberes
de Letras da Universidade do Porto (Portugal) .
Some years later Gustavo Henrique de Araujo Freire, professor at the Universidade Federal de Paraíba (UFP) and Rafael organized the First Brazilian Symposium on Information Ethics that was held at the UFP in João Pessoa in March 19, 2010. He spoke about "Theoretical and Practical Challenges of Intercultural Information Ethics." The proceedings were published by Gustavo Henrique de Araujo Freire (ed.) Ética da informação. Conceitos – Abordagens – Aplicações. João Pessoa 2010.
A year later, Rafael was invited to give a talk on "Information and Moral Action in the Context of the New Technologies" at the VII International Meeting on Information, Knowledge and Action held at the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in Marília, in October 31 - November 3, 2011. The proceedings were published in: Maria Eunice Quilici Gonzalez, Mariana Clauda Broens, Clélia Aparecida Martins (Org.): Informacâo, Conhecimento e Acâo Ética. Universidade Estadual Paulista, Marilia 2012, 37-54.
In the aftermath of this
meeting, Rafael participated at the II International Seminar
Information (SINFORGEDS 2012) held in Fortaleza (Brasil), May
by V. Bentes Pinto and H. Campos, where he spoke on the pathology of
Rafael is member of the Instituto Brasileiro de
Informação em Ciência e Technologia
(IBICT / Perspectivas
Filosóficas em Informação (Perfil-i)
He participated at many events (co-)organized by IBICT such as:
Perspectivas críticas das TIC na CI (PPGCI/UFPA) Tecnologia da informação na era da pós-verdade, November 6, 2020, Seminario Virtual Amazonia, organized by Cristian Berrio Zapata & Franciele Marques Redigolo (UFPA)
Transamazonian Network for Information and Knowledge Cooperation for
Sustainable Development (RTCIC_DS), PROCAD AMAZONIA, Federal University
Pará, November 25-26, 2019.
Seminario virtual del Grupo de investigación Escritos (Estudos Críticos em Informação, Tecnologia e Organização Social). Tercer Seminário: Ética em informação em tempos de pandemia. Coordinador Arthur Coelho Bezerra, IBICT (Brasil), 14 May 2020. De mensagens e mensageiros em tempos de pandemias biológicas e informacionais.Video: https://youtu.be/F-rKKTutK8c
First IBICT Colloquium on "Teoria, Epistemologia e Interdisciplinaridade em Ciência da Informação" in September 19, 2016 Lena Vania Ribeiro Pinheiro, Gustavo Silva Saldanha, Marco Schneider, Estudantes: Bruno Nathanson; Leyde Klebia Rodrigues da Silva; Moisés Nisembaum; Ana Brisola organized a meeting where the book by edited by Matthew Kelly and Jared Bielby "Information Cultures in the Digital Age. A Festschrift in Honor of Rafael Capurro" (Springer 2016) was presented.
Gustavo Saldanha, Lena Vania, Marco Schneider
Universidade de Campinas, Perspectivas Unicamp 50 ANOS. Mesa: Impactos das Tecnologias da Informação na Filosofia, nas Artes e na Ciência, 15 de setembro de 2016.
He participated at the III Colóquio Internacional de Metafísica (CIM), 2009 organized by Jaimir Conte and Oscar Federico Bauchwitz: "O que é metafísica?" His keynote: Contribución a una ontología digital (portuguese translation bei Soraya Guimarães, PPGFIL - UFRN) was published in the Atas do III Colóquio Internacional de Metafísica. Natal: UFRN, 2011, 321-337.
Silva Saldanha, researcher at IBICT and professor at
the Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UNIRIO) and his
created a space called "Ecce Liber. Filosofia, linguagem e
saberes" dealing with the art of oganizing knowledge or "A Arte da
Bibliografia" in which they presented the work of Rafael or "Capurrianas"
It was the start of a cooperation until today with a background in family history having been Rafael's great uncle Federico E. Capurro, an engineer, the founder of the Library School at Uruguay State University.
On 2015 he was invited to
give a talk on "What
is a scientific journal?" at the First Research
Meeting of the Faculty of Information and Communication (FIC) in
In April 3-7, 2017 the FIC organized an
academic presentation of
the Festschrift in honor of Rafael edited by Matthew Kelly and Jared
"Information Cultures in the Digital Age" (2016). Rafael gave the
seminar theories of
information for the third time.
and his sister Raquel,
a psychoanalyst, developed all their lives an exciting dialogue dealing
with philosophy and psychoanalysis, Raquel being a
proliferous writer with several contributions to the École
Lacanienne de Psychoanalyse. As an example of the co-thinking
between Raquel and Rafael see, for instance, this dialogue on secrecy,
language and memory in the
In February 8, 2008 the Centro de Investigación y Docencia en Humanidades del Estado de Morelos (CIDHEM) (Cuernavaca, México) invited Rafael to talk about "Information and Ecology".
In February 11-13, 2008, the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana (UCSJ) invited Rafael to give a seminar dealing with:
On February 12, 2008, the Centro Universitario de Investigaciones Bibliotecológicas (CUIB) of the UNAM invited Rafael to speak about: "Knowledge Organization and socio-cultural diversity in the information society"
Together with his mate Miguel
Angel Pérez Álvarez from the UNAM they developed in 2008
the project Red
Latinoamericana de Ética de la Información (RELEI).
In March 2, 2011 the CUIB invited him to talk about "Information Ethics: activities and agendas in Europe, Africa. Asia and Latin America". (Video). He talked also about "What is a secret?" at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana (Ciudad de México) in March 3, 2011 (see here).
The Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras invited Rafael to give a seminar on Heidegger in March 8-10, 2011 in Monterrey (México). Rafael translated texts from Heidegger and structured the seminar as follows:
1. Digital Hermeneutics
Rafael was invited to the
International Workshop on Bioethics and Society, Universidad de Talca, Chile, that
took place on 24-26 January 2005. He gave following lectures:
In 1986 he participated at an international
conference on phenomenology
and technology that took place in the Politechnic University (New
York). He presented a contribution on "Hermeneutics and the Phenomenon
of Information" that was later on published in: Carl Mitcham
(ed.).: Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Technology. Amsterdam 2000,
What is information? Information is the shape of knowledge at the end of modernity. Some characteristics of the end of modernity are: (a) abandonment of the primacy of rational or scientific thought as qualitatively superior to all other types of discourse; (b) abandonment of the idea of human subjectivity as opposed to objectivity, in which intersubjectivity and contextuality play only minor roles; and (c) abandonment of the (Platonic) idea of human knowledge as something separate from the knower.
All these positions, especially the third, were core discoveries of Edmund Husserl. They are also fundamental characteristics of the phenomenon of information, so that information can be described as the shape of knowledge at the end of modernity.
University) is a well-known expert in Information Science and
Ethics. He is a friend of Rafael for many years, having met at
at the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information
Science (ASIS) held in Pittsburgh, October 25-29, 1992. They
at the Panel Session: Information Democracy: Power and Control Issues.
spoke about "Information
Technologies and Technologies of the Self."
EEI21 - The Ethics of
Electronic Information in the 21st Century. An Annual Scholarly Symposium.
University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign (USA), Graduate
School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS):
The School of Library
& Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton
an Information Ethics Roundtable on Global Citizenship in April 24-26,
held a keynote on: "Citizenship
in the Digital Age" published in:
Toni Samek and Lynette Schultz (eds.): Information Ethics,
Citizenship. Essays on Ideas to Praxis. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2017,
In May 8-10, 2019 the
University of Alberta organized a conference on "AI, Ethics and
Society". Rafael spoke about: The Age of Artificial Intelligences. A
Personal Reflection. Published in: International
Review of Information Ethics
He was also invited to give a
welcome address at the International
Conference on Cyberlaw, Cybercrime
Cyber Security (Dr. Pavan Duggal, New Delhi, India) in 2015, 2016.
the 2020 conference
he presented a keynote "On Biological and
He participated at the International
Conference on Access to Information in Time of Crisis - The
UNESCO Information For All Programme Priorities and The
Pandemic, 26-28 August, 2020 organized by India Centre of
Information Ethics (ICEIE), Centre for Digital Learning, Training
Resources (CDLTR), University of Hyderabad (India); African Centre of
Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE), University of Pretoria
Africa); Russian National IFAP Committee, Interregional Library
Centre (Russian Federation); UNESCO Chair on Language Policies for
Multilingualism, University of Santa Catarina (Brazil).
Rafael was invited to
participate at the IEEE Symposium on Technology and Society
(ISTAS10) at the University of Wollongong, New South Wales,
Katina Michael). Keynote: Ethical Aspects of ICT Implants in the
in June 7-9, 2010. He participated also at the workshop on Social
of IT, Keynote: "The
Quest for Roboethics: A Survey" , University of
Wollongong, in June 10, 2010.
Rafael has personal friends
and colleagues in Australia, namely Matthew Kelly, who was one of the
of the Festschrift in
Honor of Rafael Capurro, Eds: Matthew Kelly and Jared Bielby.
Wiesbaden: Springer 2016.
Matthew Kelly, Rafael Capurro, Jared Bielby
at the ANIEversary Summit February 21-23, 2017, Pretoria, South Africa
Australia played a role in Rafael's private life. In April 1951 his father was sent in official mission to Australia and New Zealand in order to learn new methods in agriculture and breeding Corriedale sheep.
Between Trust and Anxiety. On the Moods of Information Society. In: Proceedings of the Conference "The Age of Information: New Anxieties - New Opportunities" Institute of Communication Ethics, Lincoln, UK, June 14, 2004
EU-Project NanoBio-RAISE: 1st Advanced Course on Strategic Communication and Applied Ethics in Nanobiotechnology . Invited Speaker: "EGE Opinion No. 21: Ethical Aspects of Nanomedicine" (See: PowerPoint), St Edmund Hall, Oxford, UK 2007.
International Symposium on "Information Ethics: The Future of Humanities" organized by The Uehiro Foundation on Ethics and Education , and The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, St. Cross College, Oxford. Lecture: Beyond Humanisms, Oxford, UK, December 8-9, 2010.
to the workshop ICT Ethics and Public
House, EU Commission and European Parliament's UK Office, London,
March 23, 2011: "Never
Enter Your Real Data". In IRIE Vol.
16, December 2011, pp. 74-78. Invited by Juliet Lodge.
au Colloque du
après Heidegger. Paris, 25-27 septembre 1989. Actes du
publiés sous la responsabilité de Jacques
Poulain et Wolfgang
traduits par Arno Münster. Editions L'Harmattan, Paris 1992, p.
220-224. Texte en
allemand traduit en
français par Arno Münster.
RAFAEL CAPURRO, «LE NÉGATIF PHOTOGRAPHIQUE DE L'ÉVÉNEMENT» : Le texte le plus brillant du recueil. Le monde n'est pas (ou n'est plus) l'objet d'une photographie, mais plutôt la métamorphose de tout ce qui est imprimé électroniquement : «Les technologies d'information transforment le monde en négatif photographique, c'est-à-dire en un signe dont le réfèrent coïncide avec le négatif et qui est à cause de cela toujours absent» (p. 220).
Penser après Heidegger.
Actes du Colloque du Centenaire (Paris, 25-27 septembre 1989).
Publiés sous la responsabilité de Jacques Poulain et de Wolfgang Schirmacher
et traduits par Arno Müller.
Ouvrage publié avec le concours de l'Institut Goethe (Paris) et du Conseil National des Lettres (Paris).
Editions L'Harmattan, Paris 1992, 312 pages.
Table des Matières
Penser après Heidegger: pourquoi?
Présentation par Jacques POULAIN et Wolfgang SCHIRMACHER
De la pensée à l'Être
Du vertige de la philosophie par Wolfgang WELSCH (Bamberg)
La puissance de la pensée par Daniel O. DAHLSTROM (Washington)
L'engagement de la question de l'Être selon Heidegger par Rudolf HEINZ (Düsseldorf)
Heidegger et les métamorphoses de la subjectivité par Dominque BOURG (Heidelberg)
Des doubles contraintes normatives par Reiner SCHÜRMANN (New York)
L'oubli de la pensée dans la pensée ou la perte heideggérienne du jugement par Jacques POULAIN (Paris)
La mort du sujet et la vérité de l'amour par Rudolph von GUMPPENBERG (Münich)
Le temps des larmes par Elisabeth WEBER (Paris)
Que l'ont peu, que l'on doit penser après Heidegger - et comment par Gérard GRANEL (Toulouse)
De l'éthique à la politique
Le critique habermasienne d'Heidegger, Repenser la politique et l'ontologie ou "répétition et oubli" par Judith BUTLER (Baltimore)
Par-delà le "fondamentalisme ontologique", vers une réhabilitation de la philosophie pratique par Arion KELKEL (Paris)
Chasser le héros de notre âme par Jacob ROGOZINSKI (Paris)
"Après Heidegger": la politique inachevée par Myriam REVAULT D'ALLONNES (Paris)
Historialité et géographie par Jean-Marie VAYSSE (Toulouse)
De la technique à l'art
De la rhétorique de l'essence: technique et langage par Edgar PANKOV (New Haven)
Le salutaire s'intensifie-t-il? A proposde la critique d'un mythe critique de la civilisation par Maarten van NIEROP (Amsterdam)
Le négativ photographique de l'événement par Rafael CAPURRO (Stuttgart)
La technique de vie ou la pratique de la responsabilité par Wolfgang SCHIRMACHER (New York)
Après Heidegger: y a-t-il une philosophie de la technique sur les fondements esthétiques? par Reinhard KNODT (Nürnberg)
L'ambiguïté dans la pensée poétique par Virginia CUTRUFELLI (New York)
Le statut philosophique du poème après Heidegger par Alain BADIOU (Paris)
La puissance de l'imagination comme temps temporalisant (de Kant à Heidegger et au-delà) par Dietmar KAMPER (Berlin)
De la vérité de ce qui est fait. A propos de l'aspect poétologique de l'interprétation heideggérienne de Hölderlin par Ulrich WERGIN (Hambourg)
L'expérience de l'Être et l'épiphanie littéraire par Claudia WENNER (Fribourg)
La lettre de l'esprit par Thomas PEPPER (Yale)
LE NÉGATIF PHOTOGRAPHIQUE DE L'ÉVÉNEMENTRafael Capurro
Il y a environ cent cinquante ans, la technique de la photographie a été inventée (par Talbot ou par Daguerre?). Mais entre-temps, les conditions ont complètement changé: il ne s'agit plus de faire une copie de l'image du monde extérieur dans la "chambre obscure", mais le monde lui-même est devenu l'objectif de la prospection de ces copies (vers l'extérieur), et c'est ainsi qu'il doit devenir la chambre illuminée (camera lucida) (1). Le principal problème que l'ont s'est posé au sujet de la photographie a été de trouver le moyen de fixer les images en mouvement, voire les reflets des objets. La question a été de nouveau inversée, puisqu'il s'agit aujourd'hui de savoir comment les mouvements des objets peuvent être surpassés par les mouvements des images. Le problème de Talbot était la fixation de la lumière sur le papier: notre problème est plutôt de métamorphoser tout ce qui est imprimé électroniquement.
Ce n'est pas la lumière (phos) qui doit être mise à la disposition de l'écriture (graphè) mais tout écriture, tout "imaginaire" et "symbolique" (Lacan), doit être rendu disponible en tant que lumière. Autrement dit, les technologies d'information transforment le monde en négatif photographique, c'est-à-dire en un signe dont le référent coïncide avec le négatif et qui est à cause de cela toujours absent. Le monde est plein de lumière, "de photo-graphie", et à quel point il est incompréhensible, malgré ses qualités métaphysiques apparentes de disponibilité, d'actualité, de prédisposition à la commande! cela nous l'apprenons (tous les jours) dans "la chambre obscure" de notre salon de télévision. Ainsi le monde en tant que royaume chaotique du contingent, fait irruption dans le bastion – jusqu'alors sûr – de l'enchevêtrement dialectique de l'être et de la conscience. Cette irruption du réel dans le monde du symbolique et de l'imaginaire n'est plus un phénomène individuel mais elle a maintenant lieu à l'échelle mondiale, à savoir avec tous le poids de ses "proportions" chaotiques, c'est-à-dire en brisant tous les systèmes spatio-temporels traditionnels.
Le monde médiatique n'est pas un discours traditionnel. Le monde médiatique n'est pas un discours rationnel fermé en soi qui devrait être restructuré, en fonction de l'idole d'une "société communicationnelle idéale" (Habermas et Apel), mais il révèle son caractère passager et contingent dans l'immédiateté de son déploiement médiatisé (vermitteltes). Non pas le prétendu esprit humain intemporel, mais la pluralité et l'impureté des "esprits" avec ses différences potentielles et multipliables, par les technologies d'information, s'opposant alors à l'irruption de l'être démesuré. Le XIXe siècle était l'époque des sciences de l'esprit (Geisteswissenschaften), le XXe siècle est celui des sciences des esprits (Geisterwissenschaften) (2). Ce qui fait irruption c'est la multiplicité des civilisations et des langues, sous la forme d' "informations", c'est-à-dire de récits transmis postérieurement et surtout nécessairement fragmentaires, relatifs à l'amour et à la mort, au déclin et à la reconstruction, à des menaces et à des signes d'amitié, à des dissimulations et à la "Glasnost". Seul un esprit européen quelque peu narcissique peut tenter de fonder et de dominer une telle "irruption", exclusivement à l'aide des catégories des lumières et de sa prétendu raison "pure". Ce qui a lieu au moment de l'écoulement de la modernité, c'est la découverte de l'Europe, dans le sens d'un continent mythique, dont l'histoire ("verba et erga") est inextricablement impliquée et souvent d'une façon cruelle, avec les mythes des conquérants d'aujourd'hui.
L'avènement (Ereignis) constate Heidegger, dans le protocole du séminaire du Thor du 11 septembre 1969 (3) "laisse venir à la présence", tandis que le dispositif d'information est pour ainsi dire le négatif photographique de "l'avènement" (4). A ce propos Heidegger explicite le terme "avènement/déploiement" (Ereignis) à l'aide de la langue française et conteste la possibilité de le penser avec les "concepts" d'être et d'histoire de l'être; comme il conteste aussi l'implication exclusive par la langue grecque (qui devrait être dépassée) (5). Peut-être Victor Farias y trouve-t-il un motif de "réflexion". Heidegger estime à ce propos que le mot français "avènement" est complètement inapte pour traduire "Ereignis" et il le traduit par le terme "appropriement". Il ne peut donc absolument être question –, dans le contexte de ce concept-clé de la philosophie heideggérienne de la maturité – de cette catégorie d' "advent" – telle que Hugo Ott la projette dans la pensée heideggérienne (6).
Autrement dit, il s'agit de mettre l'homme et le monde dans "une sphère résonnant en elle même" ("in sich schwingenden Bereich") faisant que le dis-positif sera dépassé ("verwunden") de "l'appropriement" (7). Il ne s'agit donc pas de découvrir derrière le monde spirituel des technologies d'information, le "vrai monde", comme par exemple celui de la raison et de la moralité européenne du XVIIIe siècle. La recherche monomane du vrai visage de l'homme qui doit être prétenduement dissimulé derrière les nombreuses représentations impressionistes et surréalistes des technologies d'information (comme par exemple derrière les tableaux de Salvador Dali), n'est rien d'autre que le désir psychopathique de l'identité catégorielle, sur la base des règles de la logique classique ou post-classique.
Ce sont précisément les technologies d'information avec leur abondance permanente de phénomènes d'apparence et avec leur être-là de fantômes (8), qui font apparaître le caractère postérieur de nos interprétations (non seulement de l'Occident européen!), dans la "chambre obscure" de nos salons de télévision. Il n'y a pas d'autre procédé permettant la transformation de ce négatif photographique en quelque chose de différent, par exemple dans le sens d'une positivité de l'événement, parce que l'événement (le déploiement) n'est pas quelque chose qui intervient après le dispositif. Ce n'est pas un avènement mais un appropriement de par la "différance" de ce qui est toujours propre de soi-même. Mais ce que la subjectivité moderne y voit (entité, disponibilité, actualité) n'est que sa propre ombre. L'autre des technologies d'information devient pour ainsi dire transparent à travers cette ombre, si nous le laissons apparaître en tant que "négatif photographique" de l'appropriement (Ereignis), c'est-à-dire en tant qu'ombre (9). Car l'autre qui apparaît au propre de l'horizon humain, à savoir à sa mortalité, par la transparence du négatif photographique, n'est rien d'autre que le néant (das Nichts), c'est-à-dire l'être sans fondement d'une technologie qui a besoin de l'homme et de sa finitude pour son jeu infini de pré-sence et d'absence.
"Rien n'est plus éloigné de Hegel et de tout idéalisme" (9), c'est-à-dire rien n'est plus lointain de la volonté d'attribuer aux technologies d'information les qualités "puissantes" de la raison des temps modernes afin de les maîtriser, par exemple à l'aide d'une "éthique médiatique européenne" - contemporaine des "lumières". Comme au niveau du sujet individuel, il ne s'agit pas de compenser le "Ça" par un (Sur-)Moi puissant mais là où il y avait le Ça doit être le Moi ("Wo Es war soll Ich werden" Freud), c'est-à-dire que le sujet social se laisse "déterminer" à cette dimension par un rapport d'oscillation ou "d'ap-propriement" et ne peut exercer son activité herméneutique que s'il comprend littéralement ses projections de puissances métaphysiques (10). C'est alors que le fait d'être disponible, remplaçable, artificiel et actuel ne sera plus un fantôme de l'Ego contemporain mais l'annonce de son impuissance, c'est-à-dire de son propre être. Ainsi, le sujet "résilie" en même temps (aussi dans le sens de la "résiliation d'un contrat") le règne du présent, en ne se révélant plus avec prétention comme fondement. Le dispositif ne sera alors plus l'apparition (l'apparaître) sensible de l'esprit européen mais l'annonce de l'échec de toute prétendue domination sur le potentiel infini de la simulation qui a pourtant besoin, afin de pouvoir apparaître, c'est-à-dire afin de parvenir au but propre de son être, de l'infini, et qui, par conséquent, ne résilie son "être-autre" que "négativement" par des caractères lumineux.
Derrière le négatif photographique de l' avènement, il n'y a pas d' imago mundi ou d' imago hominis positive, mais l'auto-donation factice de l'homme et du monde qui doit toujours de nouveau sauver l'humanité du naufrage. Nous ne serons capables de faire voir les potentialités en puissance des technologies d'information que si nous faisons nous-mêmes l'expérience des nos propres potentialités.
Si certains chevaliers des lumières nous proposent (en effet) une thérapie rationnelle du monde, cela rappelle étrangement la Révolution française et ses tentatives d'influencer, par la création d'hôpitaux psychiatriques, les "fous" (malades) de l'extérieur, de telle manière qu'ils retrouvent la raison. Bien entendu, la pluplart des malades mentaux libérés ont fini par mourir sous la guillotine.
1. Cf. AMELUNXEN (H. von), Die
aufgehobene Zeit. Die Erfindung der Photographie durch W.H. F. TALBOT,
(Le Temps suprimé. L'invention de la photographie par W.H.
Talbot, In: Dirk Nishen ed., Berlin, 1988; Ch. Grivel Ed.):
Appareils et machines à représentation, Mannheimer
Analytika, 8, 1988.
2. C'est ce qu'affirme M. Wetzel, citant Jacques
Derrida. Cf. WETZEL (M.), Photographie, in Ch.
Grivel éd., Appareils..., op.cit. p.
3. Cf. HEIDEGGER. (M.), Vier
Seminare (Quatre séminaires), Klostermann,
4. Ibid., p. 104. - Cf.
über Sprache und Information, Philosophisches Jahrbuch, n. 88,
1981, 2, pp. 333-343; et: Hermeneutik
der Fachinformation, Alber, Fribourg/Munich, 1986.
6. Cf. OTT (H.), Martin
Heidegger, Francfort, campus, 1988, p. 29. - Cf. aussi mon compte
einen Heidegger von Innen (nochmals) bittend,
in: Schopenhauer-Studien 1989. L'insuffisance fondamentale de la
"biographie" d'OTT réside surtout dans la contradiction entre sa
méthode "historique" et les "tentatives d'interprétation"
manifestant nécessairement, tout en étant toujours
refusées. (Cf. op.cit.,
pp. 113 et 144). La méthode de Farías dont Ott
lui-même prend ses
distances, est certes plus rigoureuse; mais il est, apparemment,
incompétent dans la matière (philosophique). Ceci n'est
un "reproche": tout le monde ne doit pas s'intéresser aux
questionnements philosophiques de Heidegger. Le ressentiment de
l'historien sud-américain est un mauvais conseiller.
8. Cf. HEIDEGGER (M.), Nietzsche, vol. 1, Gallimard, Paris, 1971, p. 510: "L'éclipse de l'être par l'étant procède de l'Être même en tant que la déréliction de l'étant au sens du refus de la vérité de l' Être. - Toutefois, si nous apercevons cette éclipse en tant qu'ombre, c'est que déjà nous nous tenons dans une autre lumière, sans trouver le feu dont sa lueur émane. L'ombre même est non pas assombrissement, mais déjà quelque chose d'autre."
9. Cf. HEIDEGGER (M.), Quatre
séminaires, op. cit., p. 109.
10. Cf. l'interprétation lacanniene de cette formule: LACAN (J.), Ecrits I, Le Seuil, Paris 1966, p. 226 sqq.
Rafael participated at the following events in Paris:
Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche: Conférence "Sciences en Société: Dialogues et responsabilité scientifique", lecture: "Ethics Between Law and Public Policy" Palais d'Iéna, Conseil économique et social, Paris, 24.-25. November 2008
VoX-Internet Workshop "Revisiting Internet Governance: Ethics and Politics in Human-Objects Networks". Lecture: "The Quest for Intercultural Information Ethics", Paris, 25. Juni, 2008
UNESCO: World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10) Forum: "Towards Knowledge Societies, for Peace and Sustainable Development". Paris, February 25-27, 2013.
CONNECTing the Dots: Options for
Future Action. Conference
Internet Study: Access, free expression, privacy and
March 3-4, 2015.
- Pseudangelos April 21, 2020.
In News and Society in the Greek Polis Siam
remarks that all areas of social life in the ancient polis were
"the constant reception and dissemination of information" (Lewis
1996, vii). Whether information is understood as news depends on the
background knowledge of the receiver and on the credibility of the
is common to ancient and modern societies but the challenge Lewis deals
"to indicate the ways in which the ancient Greek concept and
exploitation of news differed from twentieth-century conceptions."
CEPE 2009 Eighth
International Computer Ethics Conference,
Foundation - Instituto
de Tecnoética, November 14, 2002, Universidad de
(Grupo de Investigación sobre Tecnología, Etica y
Sociedad) y Universidad Autónoma
de Barcelona: II International Conference on Technoethics.
Instituto Nacional de
Tecnologías de la Comunicación (INTECO): I Encuentro
Internacional de Expertos en Teorías de la Información.
Un enfoque interdisciplinar. Proyecto
BITrum. Keynote: Pasado, presente y futuro de la
noción de información, León, España, November 6-7, 2008.
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona: Departamento de Comunicación y Periodismo, Conferencia: Desafíos teóricos y prácticos de la ética intercultural de la información (PP) Barcelona, April 8, 2010. Eco publicitario: ver aquí
Internacional en Ética de la Comunicación. Universidad
Sevilla, April 3-5, 2013 .
Centro de Investigación en
Agrigenómica (CRAG) 15
aniversario. Mesa redonda: Ciencia y Filosofía, Barcelona,
May 11, 2018. Rafael was invited by Prof. Pere Puigdomenech, his former
colleague at the European Group on Science and New Technologies (EGE)
He met in the eighties Swiss Daseinsanalyst Medard Boss, founder
the school of existential analysis, whose book "Foundations of Medicine
and Psychology" (Bern 1971) supervised by Martin Heidegger, influenced
Rafael's view of hermeneutics. He wrote an extensive paper
on the relation between existential analysis and therapeutic relation
dealing with the influence of Martin Heidegger on Ludwig Binswanger and
Medard Boss opened him an
approach to the field of information retrieval he was looking for
the foundation to his "Hermeneutics of Scientific Information".
Rafael did extensive research on Martin Heidegger particularly dealing
information technology. The Martin
Heidegger Society invited him to
keynote on "Thinking
the Digital Era" at their 2021 meeting.
He participated at the following meetings:
Open Forum Davos 2008 in Kooperation mit dem Annual Meeting des World Economic Forum mitveranstaltet vom Schweizerischen Evangelischen Kirchebund, Sektion: "Virtuelle Welten: Fiktion oder schon Realität?", Teilnehmer: Philip Rosedale (CEO von Linden Labs/Second Life), Joseph Weizenbaum (em. Professor für Informatik, MIT, USA), Reid Hoffman (Präsident und Vorsitzender, LinkedIn Corp., USA), Florence Develey (Pfarrerin, Reinach/Basel), Rafael Capurro (HdM). Moderation: Loïc Le Meur (Seesmic, USA), Davos, 26. Januar 2008 (See Video)
COST/TIST (European Cooperation in the Field of Scientific and Technical Research - Telecommunications and Information Science and Technology). International conference "Information: Processing and Transport for Challenging Society Needs". Invited Speaker: "Putting Information Ethics to Work", Vitznau (Schweiz), 28. Juni 2005.
Schweizerische Akademie der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften (SAGW) - 23. Kolloquium der SAGW 2003: "Informationsgesellschaft - Geschichte und Wirklichkeit", Studienzentrum Gerzensee, Bern. Vortrag: Die Rückkehr des Lokalen,16.-21. März 2003.
He was invited by IMES
Economico Statistico) Laboratory for the Culture of the Artificial,
di Urbino, Dir. Massimo
He participated at the following events:
Rafael was co-rapporteur of the EGE Opinion
No. 20 together with the italian jurist and politician Stefano
Rodotà who invited him to write a contribution on
his work as a member of the EGE: "Ethics
and public policy in Europe"
that was published in: Stefano Rodotà and Paolo Zatti (eds.):
Tratatto di Biodiritto, Vol.
1: Stefano Rodotà and Mariachiara Tallacchini (Eds.): Ambito e
fonti del biodiritto. Milano: Giuffrè Ed. 2010, 849-860.
Rafael was invited in August 1985 by Stephan
Schwarz, director of the Royal
Institute of Technology Library in Stockholm to give following
Rafael wrote together with information scientistBirger Hjørland
(Royal School of Library and Information Science, Denmark) a state-of-the-art report on "The Concept of Information" that was published in the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ed. B. Cronin), Vol. 37, 2003, pp. 343-41.
As this selection of Rafael's academic activities shows, he has been travelling around the world making presentations, giving interviews etc. See more at:
CEPE: Computer Ethics - Philosophical Enquiry awarded Rafael at theCEPE/IACAP 2021 Hamburg July 5-9, 2021 with the INSEIT Weizenbaum Award
See his keynote: Joseph Weizenbaum: A Parrhesiastes in the Digital Age.
Rafael and his wife Annette created in 2010 the Capurro Fiek Foundation (CFF) as an independent, non-for-profit foundation dedicated to promoting the analysis and ethical evaluation of the social and cultural impact of new technologies as well as to projects and help programmes supporting children and adolescents under unequal living conditions. The Foundation is particularly committed to promoting: academic activities such as research, publications, and events in the field of information ethics, pedagogical and social activities to support children and adolescents under unfair living conditions, charitable projects dealing with overcoming the gaps and disadvantages with regard to access and use of information and communication technologies.
The CFS supports
(from left to right): Leandro Placeres, Eugenia Rodríguez, Rafael Capurro,
Judith Varela, Nicolás Acha, Vanina Inchausti y Maximiliano Rodríguez
The Capurro Fiek
Foundation together with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM)
(USA) represented by Provost Johannes B. Britz, had the pleasure to
present the first ANIE (Africa
Network for Information Ethics) Award to Mr. Coetzee Bester (South
Africa) for his outstanding support of information ethics projects in
Rafael wrote "Thanks and
Responses" to the contributors of Matthew Kelly & Jared
Editors: Information Cultures in the Digital Age. A Festschrift in
of Rafael Capurro. Wiesbaden: Springer 2016 that is now quoted in extenso.
I don't remember exactly when we met for the first time, but I remember very well your kind invitation to give a talk at Kent State University in 1992 before the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Information Society that took place in Pittsburgh, October 25-29. We both participated at the Panel Session "Information Democracy: Power and Control Issues." I talked about "Information Technology and Technologies of the Self." The paper was published in 1996 in the Journal of Information Ethics. Information Ethics was emerging from Library and Information Science and Computer Science, as you describe in "A brief history of information ethics."
My paths of thought in phenomenology, technology, and ethics and my professional experience in Germany were closely related to yours. We started an exciting personal and academic conversation. Thank you for your friendship and hospitality.
Reading your biography reviewing ideas and contingencies of my life (bios) is an exciting experience for me. When I came to Germany in the early seventies I tried to understand information technology and its application in LIS. Quick transformations induced me to cultivate self-criticism and to remain sceptical when revolutions were announced and soon left behind. I searched for a remedy of intellectual and practical nearsightedness looking into the history of ideas in order "to help reveal how we find ourselves cast in the digital world," as you rightly say.
The phenomenological challenge is to unveil the power structures in our own as well as in other information cultures with their implicit or explicit normative frameworks. A vast historical and critical work is needed in order to analyze texts and artefacts reflecting them and to become aware of possible intersections, exclusions, mutual ignorance, and creative adaptations between information cultures. If we read foundational texts of different traditions from this perspective, Intercultural Information Ethics will arise. The issue addressed in the title of this Festschrift is a mark for this future conversation.
I warmly thank you both for the huge amount of time and the effort you have invested encouraging contributors to present their ideas in this global seminar. These seeds will flourish at the right time in the right places.
Thanks for your clear,
concise, and comprehensive analysis of my thoughts on the nature of
Science and its foundations. You both write: "There is a good deal to
said about the relation between information and entropy, complexity and
physical concepts (Bawden & Robinson, 2015a, 2015b), but it is not
evident that this is best expressed in terms of messages and
You are right.
With regard to "Capurro's Trilemma" you write: "There are, it seems, two kinds of gaps: those between the concepts; and those between scholars who think it worthwhile to try to bridge such gaps and those who do not." The "gaps between concepts" are in fact gaps between contexts. Aristotle is a master in presenting commonalities and differences between the use of concepts in different contexts. Take, for instance, his analysis of the concept of middle (meson, mesotes) in physics, logic, epistemology, and ethics.
With regard to the importance of the concept of document, "a central concern within LIS," you both write: "This might be seen as an endorsement of a focus on documents and documentation as a central concern within LIS, although Capurro does not seem to have made this link explicitly." This is not quite the case. I pointed to it in my PhD (Information, 1978, 230-239, 293) where I defined information as documented knowledge made available or "useful" – "ready-to-hand" or "zuhanden" in Heideggerian terms – within a network of institutions, media, instruments for classification and retrieval and the like. This definition is not only not in contradiction to Popperian World 3 but includes also Worlds 1 and 2. Popper's criticisms of "pure facts" and his insistence that any observation is "theory-laden" is not dissimilar to the hermeneutic concept of "pre-understanding."
Floridi's "Philosophy of Information" is pretty near to my early research on the Latin root informatio and the Greek concepts of eidos, idea, morphe and typos. In the course of time I took a self-critical distance from it, becoming less metaphysical and more existential. Some clarity in these matters might come from a thorough analysis of what ontology means in different schools of thought and, as in my case, in Heideggerian phenomenology. An analysis of the question 'what is a document?' should reflect the epochal changes of this concept in such a way that the word 'is' in the definition should be always hermeneutically understood as an 'as.'
Having participated at the FIS/ISIS 2015 Vienna Summit Information Society at the Crossroads – Response and Responsibility of the Sciences of Information, I am more curious than ever on how Information Science—dealing with knowledge documentation, organization, transmission and use—will find its place within this interdisciplinary framework (one that appears to me more like a labyrinth than as having one sort of rationale based on a common language and related to the whole of reality). But you are right when you ask: "What is real and what does 'real' actually mean?" These are fundamental questions that need to be asked again and again because the meaning of being changes epochally, as in the case of Heideggerian interpretation of being (as three-dimensional time). Thinking of the nature of the real from this perspective means to be able to look at the changing essence of what appears within a field of possibilities and not the other way around as metaphysics tends to do.
LIS can embrace both traditions, the metaphysical and the phenomenological, as it has to do with the reification of human knowledge as well as with its use. The user perspective is the practical and original horizon in which users are embedded. Information Science takes the objectivizing "present-at-hand" perspective. In the Preface of their seminal book Understanding Computers and Cognition (1986) Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores wrote: "All new technologies develop within the background of a tacit understanding of human nature and human work. The use of technology in turn leads to fundamental changes in what we do, and ultimately in what it is to be human. We encounter the deep questions of design when we recognize that in designing tools we are designing ways of being." This was and is still a key insight for my LIS research as well as for my view of Information Ethics from an intercultural perspective.
Thank you for your contribution.
"Naturalization" of the Philosophy of Rafael Capurro: Logic,
information and Ethics.
Naturalization of information: what a wonderful research programme! It brings information back to nature (physis) and to the life-world, differentiating between kinds of messengers and messages as forms that are communicated. Not just reversing platonism but looking carefully at what shows itself from itself in all the contradictory richness of its logic, i.e., in the logic of its own possibilities (dynamis) coming from initial forces (archai) that take it to fulfilment (entelecheia), i.e., to presence and permanence. Naturalization means also "the bringing-into-science" of such dynamical processes with methodologies and strategies of reductionism and non-reductionism that allow perspectives from which physical no less than artificial beings can be grasped in their being as based on quantification aiming at forecasting.
"Logic-in-reality" means giving priority to "the basic antagonistic or contradictory nature of reality" in the different ways it announces itself to human understanding and the different possibilities of giving responses to it. "One cannot find responsibility in oneself as an isolated agent" no less than as a worldless human agent. You write: "Information is a meta-concept that defines both the environment and the individual, which cannot be separated from it, and LIR supports this ontological turn in hermeneutics. For me, as for Heidegger, hermeneutics is ontological. LIR is about the most fundamental properties of man's “becoming in the world." This statement is a strong and clear message concerning the issue of "naturalizing" information which is common to both of us. You also write: "The origin and dualistic character of individual and collective moral responsibility to other human beings and the world begins with the awareness that we are individual entities, apparently separate from but also dependent on the world and others." We take a distance from the modern concept of autonomy of an isolated subject and become aware of the tension, instead of the Kantian dichotomy, between autonomy and heteronomy. We learn this today particularly from our being embedded in the digital network which is itself part of a whole of networked things. Heidegger's concept of "world" addresses specifically this semantic and pragmatic "whole" in which we are originally embedded that remains implicit until a tool breaks down. This is why the analysis of "broken technologies" by Fernando Flores Morador is a key issue when it comes to a phenomenology of information based on everyday practices. Arun Tripathi's research is exemplary in this regard and highly relevant for LIS too.
You write: "Heidegger calls "world" the perspective that allows us to see things as contextualized tools. But the formula being-in-the-world characterizes the mode of being of human beings in which we share a world and have a pragmatic objective view of things as tools. Heidegger does not negate or devalue the objective view but makes the key statement, for this comparison with Lupasco, that "being able to switch between the two modes makes manifest our capability of going beyond both, tools and objects" (Capurro, 2008a, Interpreting the Digital Human, paragraph 8)." I think that this is a concise and precise statement that points to the issue of human transcendence ("our capability of going beyond") from a "naturalized" perspective.
It is, indeed, in phenomena such as boredom and loneliness that are not just subjective feelings but ways of being-in-the-world or ways in which the world becomes manifest to us that questions such as "What is the world?" arise. You write: "Most importantly, the relation of all this to human logos is an explicit one as is the way in which the whole is and "interplays" with us." Nature, physis, appearing and concealing itself, give us no possibility to unveil its origin (arche) and goal (telos), in case it is appropriate to use these concepts as different from us who know, in some way, strange enough, about our birth and death. Our being-in-the-world is unheimlich, uncanny, and un-heimlich, homeless. We fail again and again trying to understand the whole of reality and reality as a whole.
To present me "as a philosopher of transition, of transition to a form of knowledge whose outlines to me are neither clear nor determined" is a good formulation for my life and my thinking.
I am very grateful for your comprehensive interpretation of my thinking in dialogue with you and Lupasco. Thank you for your friendship.
This totality or world-openness appears to us as three-dimensional time where the phenomenon of presencing and absencing takes place differently in each ekstasis or time modus (past, present, future). Being contingent and fragile, we are able to host for a while what reveals or conceals itself. We can remember, for instance, past events that seem clear as having been like this or that without being able to exclude the possibility of their concealness in this or that regard. Thanks for helping me to better understand this issue.
"Only by virtue of being nested in the existential world of human beings is the cyberworld in time." We should then be cautious speaking about the cyberworld as a world, i.e. as embracing the whole of reality, instead of understanding it as part of the "existential world of human beings." This is a crucial difference. What the digital copula ties is not a subject with a predicate or a subject with an object but one bit string with another one. "As physical, any copulator is tied to the present, i.e. to its present state and what is presently in contact with it (the physical data it receives); it is unable to stretch itself into the two distinct kinds of absence, the past and future, and cope with the ambiguity of presence and absence „simultaneously‟, as a human mind can do and constantly does (even though modern science „thinks nothing‟ of it)." The cyberworld "nested" within the world reduces the "playground" to the present with different possibilities of success and deterioration. The main challenge is, indeed, "that the cyberworld will increasingly engulf human being."
Our long-standing dialogue on these and other issues has helped me to see more clearly what digital ontology is and how a "hermeneutic, ontological compass" can help us to understand the cyberworld as "nested" in the world and not the other way around. We need to think about some strategies for dealing with this key challenge of the digital age.
"Non coerceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo, divinum est" ("not to be coerced by the greatest, but to be contained by the smallest – that is divine”) is Hölderlin's motto in the first book of the Hyperion. The source is Ignatius of Loyola's epitaph. Aristotle says: "he psyche ta onta pos esti panta" ("the soul is in some way all beings") (De an. III, 8, 431 b 21). "In some way" (pos) indeed.
Thank you for all what I have learnt from you over the years and for our friendship.
Science: The Ongoing Journey From Simple Objective Interpretation to
Understanding Data as a Form of Disclosure
Digital data is the universal currency of capitalism in the digital age. With the rise of the Internet, data do not refer any more primarily to, for instance, computer applications in the field of scientific communication, i.e., to bibliographic data, but particularly to what users provide about themselves, intentionally or unintentionally. The result are world data banks originating from the use of all kinds of digital devices as well as of smart digitally networked things and processes. User's lives become thus digitally objectivized. This is one condition of possibility about how to incorporate an objectivist approach to information.
The other condition is to reformulate existential hermeneutics with regard to the digital life-world. From the perspective of the users, digital data are "ready-to-hand" – but the question is: for whom? From the perspective of the owners of world data banks, they are a magic source of capital that nourishes itself, a kind of data fusion reactor similar to the nuclear fusion reactor dreamt in the seventies that was perceived soon as too dangerous for an open society that would mutate into a nuclear surveillance society. The corresponding danger today is the one of an information surveillance society.
I share your conclusion: "It is only when we approach hermeneutic enlightenment as more than the fusion of our own horizon with tradition, when we include a critique of ideology within its ambit (but not its orbit), that we are likely to realize the best of all possibilities: a pluralistic understanding of the language-immersed interpretative schema which we inherit and contribute to and a well-formed objectivistic critique which is open to the contingent and practical requirements of information using communities."
Thank you for retrieving my "hermeneutics and information science" and for your friendship.
I like your suggestion of interpreting the evolution of information science in terms of a "custodial" and "post-custodial" process in which the matters dealt with theoretically and practically in the custodial paradigm do not disappear but are seen under a new light in such a way that, as you state, LIS includes "two types of theoretical and practical intervention," one being the "technical matrix" and another one "a know-how based on the study of and on mono-, inter- and multidisciplinary research, which takes the social sciences as a central axis and derivation point for crossing with other scientific disciplines." This allows us to avoid the sometimes polemic discussion about the (in)commensurability of scientific paradigms but also to leave a purely pragmatic approach that gives "professional associations the power to produce guidelines for the development of the curricula of universities."
On the other hand, there is an ongoing transformation of universities into technical schools that deepens the compartmentalisation of disciplines as modules in view of their practical utility. This takes us to the foundational question about the nature of knowledge in the digital age. We need, indeed, more than ever, LIS curricula based on an open inter- und multidisciplinary research and we must abandon, as soon as possible, the "custodial" situation in which they have been relegated to for a long time.
This is a matter to be dealt with also from an ethical perspective that includes, but is by no way identical with, a deontology for librarians and information scientists. This is what you do when you address critically the very nature of the field, starting a discussion which is not dissimilar to the one addressed by Immanuel Kant in his An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? (1784). Kant was dealing with the custodial power exercised on science by the state, the military and the church. From this perspective, paradigm changes are not just an epistemological issue but are part of the social power-play not only within the sciences and the academic production, transmission and application of scientific knowledge, but also of the sciences as agents in the social interplay and the aim of the institutions on which they are based (resisting, or not, instrumentalisation). LIS academic research and teaching must grow up and enter a "post-custodial" age also in this perspective. Your vision brings a new light and fresh insights into a longstanding discussion. The challenge now is, following Karl Marx' famous dictum, to change the LIS world, once we have interpreted it in a new way.
Thank you for your challenging ideas and for your friendship. I remember with great pleasure the International Seminar you organized in the Escola Superior de Belas Artes in Porto on "Segredo e Memória na Era da Informação" (Secrecy and Memory on the Era of Information) in the 29-30 of November, 2007. The issue is even more relevant today than it was ten years ago.
I read in the nineties some of the publications that came into the spot light of research on management and business administration, such as the book by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi: The Knowledge Creating Company (1995) or Georg von Krogh, Kazuo Ichijo and Ikujiro Nonaka: Enabling Knowledge Creation (2000) and was surprised that I could not find any explicit mention of hermeneutics. This was an example, I thought, of the compartmentalisation of the sciences even when the phenomena at stake are the same.
Your methodology is an example on how interdisciplinary research can be fruitful, not only in the LIS field. You both bring something new with regard to the discussion in business administration, namely "the experiences of the human beings involved in the process of knowledge creation" as being "in the pivotal position." The interactive process is "an event in itself." You explain this event by saying: "the phenomenon of knowledge creation is always contextual: it happens in a borderless relation to the world (though the concept of context has its problems in the light of hermeneutic phenomenology)." You take the issue of phenomenology seriously, namely to let the phenomenon of knowledge creation be what it is, the interplay between participants that takes place within a shared theoretical and/or practical context. You write: "When we study the phenomenon of knowledge creation as an experiential phenomenon, we can gain from the participants’ multiple stories and interpretations of their experiences. These data can be collected by using interviews, diaries or even surveys. In the data gathering the phenomenological research emphasizes openness: open-ended questions and dialogues are promoted to gain descriptions of the experiences (Moustakas, 1994, p. 13)." You add this important remark: "It is also important not to assume anything, as the premise of a phenomenologically oriented research is that the interviewer “does not seek to predict or determine causal relationships” (Moustakas, 1994, p. 105)."
You apply this phenomenological premise to the study of an event of interaction "in which phenomenology structures the forming of knowledge on a very fundamental level, starting from perceptions and their interpretation. The phenomenological attitude rises from the notion of perceptions and phenomena as the real objects of study. Only a phenomenon exists in a certain time and place and only it can be reached. In phenomenology one does not search for truth or an idea behind the perceived phenomenon but examines what is manifested in the event (Zahavi, 2007, p. 15) Phenomenon is not a fixed object but a way of encountering. At the same time the ambiguity of knowledge becomes obvious: all knowledge is based on the perceived phenomenon and thus dependent on the perceiver's perspective and intention (Heidegger, 2006, pp. 28-31)."
I fully share your insights as well as your conclusion that "the hermeneutic viewpoint does not offer simple models for knowledge creation; instead it emphasizes the deep and complex nature of the phenomenon. Phenomenological hermeneutics offers a well-grounded and coherent basis for understanding the phenomenon and provides the structure of the hermeneutical circle with which to further analyze and study interaction empirically."
Thank you for your contribution.
Significance of Digital
Hermeneutics for the Philosophy of Technology
"From a Euro-American perspective technology is viewed through its connection with the sciences, while in South America the perspective is the reverse, science is viewed through its technologies understood as cultural instruments; this places the technification of sciences in the foreground." This first sentence of your contribution opens a broad intercultural and interdisciplinary research programme. One important source for South America is the work of the Argentinian philosopher Rodolfo Kusch (1922 - 1979). There is a long history about science and technology as seen from a Europe-US-South America, including Central America and the Caribbean, perspectives addressed, for instance, by the Argentinian Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811-1888), the Cuban José Martí (1853-1895), or the Uruguayans José Enrique Rodó (1871-1917) and Carlos Vaz Ferreira (1872-1958), to mention just a few. The present situation concerns obviously the impact of ICTs on all aspects of social life.
Don Ihde, Peter-Paul Verbeek, David Kaplan and Bernhard Irrgang are, indeed, important representatives of a critical phenomenology of technology. Thank you for bringing my thoughts into a conversation with them and with your thoughts as well. This creates an exciting space of reflection. You write how Don Ihde's postphenomenology "focuses on how human-technological devices affect intentionality through meaning-making practices." I agree with Patrick Heelan's remark that "the term postphenomenology is immediately linked with ― "postmodernism" which is a critique of modernism. According to Heelan, postphenomenology is not a critique of phenomenology but a careful, concrete, and hermeneutic application of (particularly Merleau-Pontyan) phenomenology to technological practices." This is the kind of analysis that we should do, looking critically at the historical, economic, material, and cultural contexts in which technological practices are instantiated. Considering technological practices within the horizon of the human "power play" (Eldred), means learning from Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci and Michel Foucault. "Material hermeneutics" can be conceived as historico-dialectical hermeneutics that is largely lacking in my thought but that can be related to it following the paths opened by you as well as by Marco Schneider, Bernd Frohmann and Christian Fuchs who have fortunately contributed to this Festschrift. The question concerning technology is intrinsically related to the question of being and the question of power no less, as your remark, to the question of embodiment in material practices in everyday life, something that Fernando Flores Morador has carefully and critically analyzed with the concept of "broken technologies."
Thank you for your friendship and for sharing with me over the years your vast knowledge on Western and Indian philosophy and on your ongoing research on hermeneutics of technological culture.
Responsibility and Neutrality in LIS Professional Ethics: A Virtue
Social responsibility and library neutrality are two important and, as you rightly remark, often conflicting values of the LIS profession. The attempt or even the temptation to misuse libraries as well as educational institutions for indoctrination by means of abuse of power at micro-, meso- and macro-levels is omnipresent also in democratic societies and has a global dimension in the digital age. Although no technology is neutral as far as it changes the possibilities of action and with it the question of responsibility for what can or should be done in view of this change, the value of neutrality can be interpreted as dealing with non-discrimination of users and their needs. This can be achieved by legal means but this eventually presupposes that the persons performing the practices within a community are conscious of their social responsibility particularly in situations in which forces inside or outside the institution in which they work become active in order to enforce their interests (which may be detrimental to the value of neutrality or non-discrimination).
Your essay dealing with a virtue ethics approach to this issue offers "a framework to accommodate both values." Virtue ethics of professionalism in LIS is no less crucial than in other branches such as banks or the car industry, to mention two examples in which the lack of virtue ethics is evident. You write: "Knowledge of an organization‘s functional characteristics is combined with knowledge of the profession‘s unique genealogical trajectory; the result is not only a professional identity, but a culture that reinforces the worth and goals of that profession and guides the acceptable ethical behaviour of its members. LIS professionals may be expected to represent not only their institutions when they are engaged in public discourse, but their profession as well (Budd, 2008)." Although a virtuous person is a necessary condition for good life in a society, there remains a tension, as Aristotle clearly saw, between ethical and political issues. The identification of both in a Platonic ideal state, means in reality the establishment of a doctrine, the exclusion of critique via censorship, and the negation of private life under the dictate of a tyrannis.
As you rightly state: "Individual professionals are also guided by a variety of ethical bases, representing many cultural perspectives, and a variety of economic and political realities. Given this diversity, it is difficult for an international profession to maintain homogenous ethical concepts that centrally inform identity and practice." I fully agree with your conclusion that "professionalism is not an ethically neutral approach." In a globalized world, we need more than ever a critical intercultural dialogue on the issues addressed in your contribution.
The quest for universality cannot be solved alone with the help of professional codes of ethics but must go through a patient and concrete analysis of the dilemmas implicit in such codification not only with regard to their implementation but also to the interpretation of the values themselves. This last task should be a special focus in LIS education as well as in professional bodies at national and international levels. In the Western tradition we call phronēsis this prudential reflection that illuminates different possibilities concerning the relation between means and ends.
Thank you for your contribution.
Ethics in the Age
of Digital Labour and the Surveillance-Industrial Complex
A critical reflection on the political economy of social media is not only an urgent task due to the transformation of classical industrial capitalism into a digital-based one, but also a big challenge for philosophers and economists or, to put it more explicitly, for philosopher-economists for which in Modernity the work of Karl Marx, in spite of the ideological malformations and dictatorial regimes it gave rise to, builds a main source for critical thinking about power (class) struggles in the 21st century.
We, in academia and in political life, need more than ever a Marxian perspective if we want to know the world in which we live, which is not only dependent on "the military-industrial complex" as courageously addressed by Dwight D. Eisenhower when leaving office in 1961, but on "the age of digital labour and the surveillance-industrial complex" in all the forms such a complex is taking in the world today. The options we have for bringing what is to the level of knowledge opens paths of liberation—as Hegel wrote at the beginning of his Lectures on the History of Philosophy (Chapter 2, a: "The Notion of Development"). The difference between being "in himself" free and to know "for himself" that one is free "is quite enormous" ("ganz ungeheuer") although through having made himself "double" does not mean "that a new content has been produced. [...] The whole variation in the development of the world in history is founded on this difference." This difference is no less "enormous" with regard to the question of being free "in himself" and "for himself" in the digital age.
You are right when you write that I advance "a concept of information ethics that in its stress on ambiguities of the information age is not unrelated to a Hegelian and Marxian dialectical logic that stresses the analysis of antagonisms." You are also right, when you say that I stand "with the foregrounding of human rights in Internet ethics in a Kantian tradition. This is expressed in his demand for a human right to freedom of communication on the Internet. One certainly must see how such freedoms remain in asymmetric societies class-structured. Economic and political power limits freedom so that universal ethical and legal claims are practically undermined and remain unrealised." This is, indeed, the theoretical and practical challenge we are facing in the 21st century.
Your criticisms of Floridi are not the same as mine, but there is at least one point where we converge: "It is worth highlighting that Floridi‘s analysis does not problematise exploitation. His information ethics does not give importance to the phenomena of class and exploitation and is, therefore, particularly unsuited for a critique of exploitation in the information age." What makes possible this convergence is my Heideggerian-based criticism of metaphysics and the historical reflection on the changing essence of technology. I see no necessity (ananke) steering us if we are aware of the key role that chance (tyche) plays in human affairs (praxis) as highlighted by Aristotle in Book II of his Physics. Thinking power and labour from the perspective of being as three-dimensional time, is no less crucial than thinking being from the perspective of the power play, class struggle being a form of it. We, as a plurality of human beings sharing a common world, face an open but limited horizon of felicitous and murderous possibilities of action. The realization of some of them is nothing metaphysically permanent, neither for Marx nor for Heidegger, and not even for Aristotle, "der grösste Denker des Altertums" ("the greatest thinker of Antiquity") as Marx called him in Das Kapital (I, 4, ch. 13, b).
Thank you for your friendship and for your contribution that resumes our conversations in Salzburg and Vienna.
Ethics: A Pragmatic Consideration
Intercultural Information Ethics (IIE) is a mark I created in 2004 at the ICIE symposium "Localizing the Internet. Ethical Issues in Intercultural Perspective" in order not to forget that we live in a world shared not only by a plurality of individual human beings but also by a plurality of social identities or cultures changing over time. Although the reflection on cultural issues of ICT goes back to the CATaC (Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication) conferences organized by Charles Ess et al. since 1998. You were probably the first scholar who wrote on ethical issues of ICT from a Buddhist perspective.
Raising the question of cultural diversity with regard to ethical values and principles is problematic if it is understood as opposed to universal ethical values and principles codified, for instance, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Looking back into history one can even discover that some of these values and principles are the common heritage of humanity beyond cultural differences. You write that "[...] as the internet, both the original internet and the Internet of Things (IoT), spreads across the globe, a concern arises over the clash between the values originally embedded in the internet itself and those of the various cultures wherein it is introduced. Even within the culture where the internet originated we can find conflicts between varying sets of values." This means that although we can agree on the universality of some values, this agreement does not preclude their potential conflict in different situations nor that such values and principles can have different kinds of foundations.
Taking the example of privacy you write: "The European emphasis on data protection and privacy, then, was understandable in light of the overall outlook of European culture that put less emphasis on individualism than did America from where the Internet originated." This is an inner conflict between two Western cultures, in case one wants to simplify the matter about one "American" and one "European" culture. "This shows," as you rightly state, "that the Internet, as with other forms of technologies, can lend itself to the cultural environment it finds itself in." It follows that instead of starting an ethical reflection with a universal a priori of whatever content – Kant was in favour of the formal criterion of universalisability – we can deal, as you do, with the factual situation of having different opinions and values, for instance about the role of the Internet, which shows "that culture does indeed play a role, and it is to our benefit to look closely at this interplay towards an understanding of the philosophical insights one can obtain through reflecting on it." Your arguments and particularly your "pragmatic consideration" of the question of privacy from a Buddhist perspective is one of the most illuminating arguments I have ever read concerning the importance of taking seriously cultural differences when it comes to looking for the ground(s) as well as for different ways of understanding ethical values and principles. What an amazing insight for me, a "Westerner," to find in compassion the Buddhist foundation for the right to privacy! The plausibility of universal ideas and ideals depends on how seriously we take the task of carefully and deeply analysing cultural differences and bringing them into a conversation. Striving towards universality through particularity is the royal road ("Königsweg") of Enlightenment.
Thank you for your friendship, your wisdom, and for the time we spent together in different parts of the world, particularly in Bangkok. We both found in Professor Makoto Nakada (University of Tsukuba, Japan) a friend and colleague with whom I have been working with for ten years.
as Normative Foundation of Responsible Research
I have learned a lot about issues concerning "responsible research and innovation" working with European institutions such as the European Group on Science and New Technologies (EGE) to the European Commission, where I had the privilege to be a member for ten years (2000-2010) and in European projects like ETHICBOTS (2006-2007) and, under your leadership, ETICA (2009-2011). What happens when academic ethicists and public policy institutions converge temporarily and hopefully, in timely ways, in order to deliberate and provide advice on different courses of actions? This advice might, later on, be discussed in parliament and may even lead to legal regulations. One of my lessons learned is the hermeneutic insight on the importance of the context in which we work and for whom. What is at stake in such interdisciplinary groups inside political institutions is a cautious and critical reflection about what appears to be the beginning (arche) and the end (telos) and, of course, the different means to achieve that end concerning ethical issues arising from science and technology that are identified as problematic for society.
As you rightly remark: "The problem of proactive engagement with research and innovation activities is particularly pertinent in information and communication technologies (ICTs) whose uses are notoriously difficult to predict and whose ubiquity render them of high social relevance. [...] Values are notoriously difficult to capture and describe. They can also contradict each other. Using values to support the normative basis of RRI requires a difficult exercise which involves identifying and describing values and demonstrating their reach and validity. It is, furthermore, not obvious whether and to what degree, particular values are applicable to particular technologies, in our case to particular ICTs."
Following this line of thought the practical challenge is to consider values as inherently related to the valuing process within the human "interplay" (Michael Eldred). Values can contradict each other because there are differences among the evaluators – we, humans, are an ens aestimans – with regard to a particular situation based on the interests involved implicitly or explicitly. In other words, values need to be interpreted within changing situations and as related to different cultural traditions that are not untouchable but contingent and subject to change when facing new possibilities of understanding coming from the others as well as new options for common action.
We are today more than ever aware that such an evaluating interplay should be based on rules of fair play that take into consideration not only the human players but the world they share. Human rights are inextricably related to the rights of other living beings as well as to the material conditions for survival. The "right to life" is a basic right, being subject, as any other moral or legal right, to a process of interpretation and application. Hans-Georg Gadamer has taught us to be aware of the relation between legal and existential hermeneutics particularly with regard to the interpretation and application of norms as a special task that is rooted in the fact that we are evaluating beings, i.e., beings that must take care of their lives in a shared world. Different schools of ethics in different cultures and epochs give us a rich instrumentarium. We should consider the diversity of ethical theories as an advantage and not as a handicap or even as a danger.
Thank you for your friendship and for having given me the opportunity to work with you in the ETICA project.
School of Athens
from the Perspective of Angeletics
This is a fascinating angeletic interpretation of Raphael's School of Athens and other frescos and paintings. I remember Professor Hans Belting, an internationally renown art historian, telling me that each time he comes to Rome a colleague asks him if he could further decipher the persons depicted in this fresco. "Who then is this young semi-naked messenger figure and what is the message (angelia) contained in the scroll and the two anonymous codices he carries? Who amongst this assembly of great minds is the intended reader? How does this angeletic situation epitomise the underlying message of the painting?" Good questions! The young messenger has a scroll in his left hand and two books (!) in his right hand. Other persons, most notably Plato and Aristotle themselves, have also books of which we can read their titles, namely Timeo in the case of Plato, and Etica in the case of Aristotle, who has four fingers between "Etic" and "a," not enough, I think, to imagine "Nicomache" in the space in between, but what else can this title mean? All books in this fresco look like coming fresh out of the printing press maybe to point to the modernity of their messages with regard to the old scrolls and the overwhelming influence of the Christian message and messengers.
What is news? In her book News and Society in the Greek Polis (1996, p. 1-4) Sian Lewis writes: "In 396 news came to the Spartans that the Persian King was preparing a fleet of warships for use in the campaign against the Spartan allies in Asia Minor. Xenophon gives an account of the means by which the news reached Sparta: A Syracusan called Herodas had been in Phenicia 'with a shipowner', and when he saw the preparations, he sailed on the first boat to Greece to warn the Spartans. This story is typical of Xenophon; [...] It is also a paradigmatic story about news in Greece. The coming of the news is haphazard; it is only by chance that it is brought to the attention of the Spartans. The messenger is not official, but there appears to be more to the story than meets the eye, since he was accepted without question by the Spartans. The news was brought as quickly as possible with normal means. [...] The desire to hear news is documented in all societies ancient and modern, from the Athenian in the Agora asking "Legetai ti kainon?' (What's new?) to islanders in the west of Ireland in the 1960s awaiting the boat bringing news from the mainland. [...] Ta kaina, new things, or kainoi logoi, new stories, are reported, but the primary word is aggellô, I report, and its cognates. To bring news is to bring a message or report, and the advent of news is described impersonally: êggeilen, it was reported. An aggelma is both news and a message clearly the act of reporting is what creates news. It is worth noting that Greek vokabulary for news does not distinguish between truth and falsity – phêmê, common report, is not intrinsically lest trustworthy than logos (story) or epistolê (message); the distinction is one of source. A newsmonger, someone who makes up news, is in Greek a logopoios, a fabricator of stories. This word also denotes a poet, but this is less surprising when placed in a Greek context. There was no correlation made between history and truth as opposed to poetry and fiction; on the contrary the Homeric poems, for instance, were treated by historical writers as legitimate history. The tales of poets and dramatists, equally, were drawn from myth, and hence true, as opposed to invented stories. A logopoios, then, is not necessarily a liar; as Demosthenes makes clear in his condemnation of newsmongers, it is because they are able to be plausible and authoritative that they are so dangerous."
Maybe Raphael's messengers came from a ship "outside of the system" as you write. Control over the dissemination of information is a key issue not only in war times. Xenophon's Cyropaedia is full of stories about messengers and messages. According to Herodotus (History, Book 8, 98, 1), "[...] there is nothing mortal which accomplishes a journey with more speed than these messengers (angelon), so skilfully has this been invented (exeuretai) by the Persians." Had Raphael the opportunity to read Xenophon and Herodotus in the studiolo of Federico da Montefeltro or in other libraries?
Your heretical interpretation of Raphael's messengers and messages is unique: "Raphael displayed an ambiguous trinity of personalities each represented as characters in the School — Raphael Sanzio, the creator of magnificent Madonnas and Papal apologist of the Christian story; Raphael Urbinas, the master craftsman of the Umbrian School and consummate exponent of technique; and finally the hedonistic Raffaello, the cryptic Pythagorean and explorer of the dark mystic underbelly of the Renaissance."
You have luckily rebaptized angeletics as messaging theory, giving it a more profane anglo-saxon name. There is no etymological connection between the peninsula of Angeln or Anglia and the Greek angelos, not to mention divine messengers.
Thank you for your friendship
and for your longstanding work in
angeletics / messaging theory.
the Pulse of Existence: An Examination of Capurro's
"Understanding the Pulse of Existence": what a wonderful title to address the issue of angeletics. What does human existence mean other than the tension between engagement and acedia in view of "the double nature of the human act" "between thinking and acting." Engagement and acedia are two poles of communication behaviour, one of amelioration and the other one of deterioration, one fulfilling itself in acting and the other one "proper to the processing of pure data" with a lot of possibilities between these two poles. You write: "As we understand Capurro's work, the angeletic perspective leaves behind the opposition between object and subject and substitutes it with inter-subjectivity in context as noema and pragma; a proper message will then, not only "inform," but also "persuade"." This is what we could call the angeletic turn although still using the modern subject-object terminology und Husserl's term (noema) that belongs to a phenomenology of consciousness and not to the one of communication as angeletics.
You write: "It would be possible to distinguish communicative types that combine different angeletic paths: some examples could be the "command"; the path of "regular conversation"; the path of "asking" or the path of "wishing." This is obviously a case of logical reasoning and, of course, it is possible to translate it into the language of traditional logic, but only if the traditional logical contents subordinates the rhythm of the facts." Excellent. To teach/to inform (docere, informare), to influence/to move (movere) and to please (delectare) are modes of human communication. They are addressed by Aristotle as deliberative speech (genos symbouleutikon), juridical (and judicial) speech (genos dikanikon) and laudatory speech (genos epideiktikon) (Rhet. 1358b). This induced me in the early nineties to understand Information Science as a rhetorical discipline. The book by Lawrence William Rosenfield Aristotle and Information Theory: A Comparison of the Influence of Causal Assumptions on Two Theories of Communication (The Hague 1971) raised my attention. I quoted it in my Hermeneutik der Fachinformation (1986).
You write: "To understand Capurro's angeletics, we introduce the opposition between "order" and "information" (as the measurement of "disorder") in relation to probabilities. "Order" arises together with certainty while information is the expression of uncertainty." This is Shannon, of course. But then you add: "The dialectics of knowing versus interpreting or that of reasoning versus believing follows this path, fragmenting and reconstructing intentionality, moving from a very uncertain world to a very convincing world, and vice versa." This is angeletics having gone through Shannon.
You state that for me "information is fragmented intentionality." I understand this fragmentation as being twofold: 1) in reducing knowledge to pieces, the original contextuality disappears or becomes tacit; and 2) knowledge becomes dependent on the knower's frame of reference, truth and relevance are tied together. You call this existential tension the "logic of rhythm." Your conclusion is exciting; “This short proclamation made intentionality the inverse of information and opened the way for an operative understanding of the meaningfulness of discourse as a process; in other words, the succession of moments during which different intentional fragments of different weights are organized and reorganized to create sense. That is the starting point of Angeletics, the discipline that studies diachronically the reorganization of intentionality in a discourse. This is going to have important consequences for the future development of artificial intelligence as the formalized pulse of existence."
Having gone through Heidegger, intentionality does not mean a phenomenon taking place inside subjective consciousness as a relation between noesis and noema but the factual existence of being with others in a common world. I understand being as messaging and Heidegger's thinking as angeletic as he himself says in From a Conversation on Language - Between a Japanese and an Inquirer (1953/54). But already his early concept of phenomenon as that which discloses itself, addressing us in such a way that we are not the masters of the play, is an angeletic approach. Heidegger distinguishes in this late dialogue between two kinds of sayings to respond to language or to being as world messaging namely "speaking from" ("sprechen von") and "speaking about" ("sprechen über"). In the psychoanalytic setting, the logic of "speaking about" creates an illusionary homogenous order that can be crossed by messaging in the mode of "speaking from." This has consequences for the turn done by Heidegger and Medard Boss from psychoanalysis to Daseinsanalyse. But we should not forget what Freud said in the Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1916/17) regarding the "meager messages ("kärgliche Nachrichten") about what happens unconsciously in his soul." For Lacan, as you write, is the "Self" "a circumstantial illusion and any definitive existential harmony outside the angeletical rhythm is impossible to achieve."
Thank you for your friendship and your synnoein that opens common paths of thought for us and surely also for others.
Demon in the Gap of Language: Capurro, Ethics and Language in
- "Why do you want to visit East Berlin?' I answered: "I want to visit the famous museums, particularly the Pergamon Museum."
- "What are you studying in West Germany?" I answered: "Documentation."
- "What is documentation?" I answered: "Well I don't know yet, since the courses have just started."
The interrogation took an hour or so. I became nervous, of course, although the Border Policemen were very polite. Once I passed the control, Annette and Thomas, who were waiting for me on the other side, asked me with astonishment why had it taken so long. We spent a nice day together in East Berlin.
In some way, Damiel and Cassiel were and still are daimones inside me roaming the divided city in those early 70s when I met Annette and I found myself thrown into the German Dasein leaving the role of the Uruguayan observer – there is no desire-free observation, at least for us, humans – with Italian roots, speaking Spanish as a mother tongue. Cassiel, the foreigner, remained for a time my heaven over Germany. Both became "the demon in the gap of language," more precisely, in the gap of Spanish and German.
As your mythological story suggests, my life turned into a message carried by Hermes, the "principle of impulsion," coming from beyond into Hestia's German home, "the principle of permanence." You write: "The life of such an individual is the life of one who faces the ethical-informational challenges of a dichotomous reality, divided, therefore, between First World and Third World, between East and West, and who proposes the search for a transversal-ethical construction between such poles." Hermes is still whispering messages of happiness and peace in different languages that unite and divide us but that are possible answers to the open possibilities of the world we share together.
Thank you for your friendship and for helping me to decipher the messages sent to me by the Enigma-machine that is human life. Each human life being unique, we cannot expect that when we believe how to better interpret and manage our personal life, we could logically deduce a conclusio for others. But others can maybe learn how to do it.
The work of John Durham Peters, particularly his book Speaking into the Air (1999) as well as the new one The Marvelous Clouds. Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media (2015) are indeed "a fitting description of the central concerns" of my work "on the ethical and political dimensions of communication and message theory." In his new book Peters writes: "The old oral world of face-to-face interaction is not necessarily more real or vital than artificially mediated ones. Presence, of course, is a medium too. [...] People long to be with their dear ones not because they harbor the illusion that presence and voice yield privileged access to the other's soul that writing cannot afford. If it's mind you want, and many do, then writing is better. But we also want and need each other's bodies and presence, and not only in a sexual way." (p. 276). This fits into yours as well as into my ethical and political concerns. You write: "Peters notes that "there is nothing ethically deficient about broadcasting as a one-way flow," nor "are the gaps between sender and receiver always chasms to be bridged; they are sometimes vistas to be appreciated or distances to be respected" (p. 59), and often the "dream of communication has too little respect for personal inaccessibility" (p. 59). At best, he says, "communication is a dance of differences, not a junction of spirits" (p. 65). The concept-cloud of communication generates a concept-cloud of associated political possibilities; there is much more to be said."
I am not familiar with the work of Paolo Virno and particularly with his concept of "general intellect." Thanks for introducing me to it in dialogue with Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Collier and Lakoff, Shannon, Habermas, Latour, Kittler, Chomsky, Lacan, Hardt and Negri, Marx, Lenin, and Peters. What a magnificent intellectual cosmos for thinking information, documentation, and communication in relation to society, power, and capital looking for new forms of local and global assemblages.
Let me quote your last provocative sentences about becoming "thinkers of the unintelligible" as suggested by your friend and colleague Warren Steele, Western University, Faculty of Information & Media Studies. His profile in the FIM website reads as follows: "my research interests include: the philosophy of technology (Heidegger, especially); technics and responsibility; the politics of love, memory, mourning, and melancholia; film; critical race theory; critical whiteness studies; Marxist political economy; and media theory." You write "[...] that thinking about communication might find value in the unreadable, inherently undecidable, inaudible, unheard of or non-said, especially in a communicative scene that harbors the reactionary dream of channels without ambiguity, interference, surprise, static, the unexpected, and noise. Their virtues and possibilities carve a space apart from the continual flow of authorized "communication," and provokes my friend's question: do we not also need to become thinkers of the unintelligible? I am grateful for the question, and hope the unsaid in this paper provokes others." I am sure it will.
Thank you for our longstanding friendship and for bringing, as usual, good and fresh thoughts about general and special topoi of resistance in and to the capitalist digital society.
At that time, in the seventies, the concept of data was not on the forefront of the LIS discussion beyond its use in compounds like data bases, i.e., related to computer science where it was omnipresent. A few years later, in my Hermeneutik (1986), it is there particularly in relation to Börje Langefors "infological" approach according to which the concept of information is based not only on "data" but also on the cognitive or semantic structure. It follows that data is (are) not Information(s) – the plural is not common in English probably because the Latin concept informatio concerns the process of formation of the senses, the intellect, the customs... and less its result; the British empiricists used, instead, the word impressions which comes close to the Greek typos – and not every information can be made understandable to every cognitive subject. A text 'contains' no information without a "receiving structure." According to Langefors, data without "pre-knowledge" are not Information(s) (Fachinformation, 1986, p. 52-55).
In philosophy the concept of and the word data is familiar to me from Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft. In the Transcendental Analytics he writes that concepts and all principles ("Grundsätze") can be as a priori as they want but they must have a relation to "data of possible experience" ("auf Data zur möglichen Erfahrung") (KrV, B 298). In the Transcendental Dialectics he states: "it is likewise sufficient to refute empirical idealism that without perception even fictions and dreams are not possible, so our outer senses, as regards the data ("den Datis nach") from which experience can arise, have actual corresponding objects in space." (KrV A 377). The German present participle "given" ("gegeben") is, of course, given (!) from the very beginning. You point to it in your contribution. The Latin origin of data can still be heard in Kant. It would be interesting to follow the path you mention about the Arabic translation of Euclid's Dedoména and the way(s) in which this term was discussed in the Arabic/Islamic context.
André Lalande's Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie has an entry "Données, D. Data, Annahmen; E. Data; I. Dati" in the sense of assumptions ("assomptions") as well as to "Donné" (masculine) meaning what is immediately given ("synonyme d'immédiat, de premier, de conscient") and a reference to Herbert Spencer's System of Synthetic Philosophy "The Data of Biology" vs. "The Induction of Biology" as well "The Data of Psychology", "The Data of Sociology" and "The Data of Ethics." There is also Henri Bergon's doctoral thesis: "Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience" (1889).
The conceptual relationship between data and document that you propose is convincing for me. You write "The position I wish to develop in this paper, however, is that it is not in fact the case that documents are made up of data. On the contrary, it is the other way round: datasets are made up of documents." The only etymological study on the concept of document I know about is the one by Helmut Arntz (1912-2007), who was many years president of the (former) Deutsche Gesellschaft für Dokumentation (DGD) (German Society for Documentation): "documentatio a documento" in: Nachrichten für Dokumentation, 5, 4, Dec. 1954, 171-179.
Thank you for your contribution.
the Pre-History of Library Ethics: Documents and Legitimacy
Although I knew that librarianship has a long tradition of ethical statements regarding the profession it is new for me that there are documents going back up to the 15th century. "It is possible to argue that librarianship is one of the founding professions of civilisation." This argument opens a broad and long path of research on documented ethical statements in cultures other than the West. Professional ethics is indeed not the whole story about ethical issues of a profession as far as they concern society as a whole but they are an important mark for a profession to having achieved awareness about their social responsibility, something that other professions have done in recent times with one famous exception, at least, namely medicine.
I prefer to speak of moral instead of ethical codes in order to clarify the difference between ethics as an academic reflection and its object, namely the customs and rules of behaviour in a given society (Latin: philosophia moralis vs mores, Greek: philosophia ethiké vs ethos). In everyday language both concepts are often used as synonyms or they are put together without a clear understanding of their difference. Sometimes ethics is supposed to deal with rules of conduct and morality with the difference between right or wrong. But in this case a difference should be also made between an academic reflection on both issues which is called moral philosophy.
Your analysis of the pre-history of library ethics raises the question about what kind of reflection had taken place and how far this reflection had to do also with the application of such rules, similarly of what happens with the academic reflection about law as well as about the application of a given law. In other words, my question is about the existence of some kind of library ethics hermeneutics prior to what we have today taking as an example the work of Robert Hauptman and the ethical debates in different library fora such as IFLA.
As you rightly state: "Although hard to define, certain ways of conduct are often seen among, for instance, physicians and lawyers, giving them a certain kind of authority in the relation with their patients or clients. This conduct may be described as simultaneously emphatic and distanced, and has developed over generations of practitioners" (emphasis added) and, I would add, also of theoreticians. A new situation forces, so to speak, professionals to reflect on the given rules that do not quite fit as a normative horizon for what makes a societal difference. Ethical reflection arises particularly in times of crisis. As you write: "Presenting the final version of his code in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 1922, Knowles Bolton acknowledges the virtue based tradition, but also emphasises the importance of taking it forward so as to repay a debt to the first pioneering generation of American librarians."
I fully agree with you when you characterize the "pre-history" of library ethics as dealing with: "(1) founding charters for libraries and instructions to librarians, (2) peer handbooks in librarianship, written primarily by prominent librarians, defining the profession from a practical point of view, and (3) educational texts developed in direct relation to the emergence of new and increasingly academic levels of education for librarians."
Your analysis of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana takes me back to John Holgate's interpretation of Raphael's frescos that asks now for an explicit connection to the matter you address. If Ad Decorem "does not evolve (as far as we know) from discussions involving librarians," with whom had Sixtus IV conversations on this issue? Is there any source in the theological debates and documents of that time? Naudé pre-announces the discussions in the République des lettres of philosophers like Voltaire and Kant.
Some years ago I read in the newspaper about a catalogue of rules and values dealing with the management of knowledge in ancient Babylon. Prof. Markus Hilgert (Oriental Institute, University of Heidelberg) told me that this is a very interesting topic but we missed the possibility of further contact. Since 2002, The British Museum has run a project "The Library of Ashurbanipal." According to the website information: "The oldest surviving royal library in the world is that of Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria (668-circa- 630 BC). British Museum archaeologists discovered more than 30,000 cuneiform tablets and fragments at his capital, Nineveh (modern Kuyunjik). Alongside historical inscriptions, letters, administrative and legal texts, were found thousands of divinatory, magical, medical, literary and lexical texts. This treasure-house of learning has held unparalleled importance to the modern study of the ancient Near East ever since the first fragments were excavated in the 1850s." In 2015 - ISIS burned the Mosul Museum Library.
Thank you for your contribution.
Reflection on Overly Self-Confident or Even
Arrogant Humanism Applied to a Possible History-Oriented Rationality of
Library and Librarianship
Descartes, the library, and librarianship! What a wonderful and fresh topic to deal with. Although Descartes is generally considered as the father of subject-centered philosophy it is often ignored that he can be interpreted as belonging to the tradition of philosophy as art de vivre that implies, as Pierre Hadot has shown, different kinds of exercices spirituels or of technologies du soi as Michel Foucault called them. The question is then whether Hadot is right when he believes that already in the Middle Ages philosophy was not any more conceived of as spiritual exercises of self-examination or, as Foucault argues by saying that the break takes place with Descartes.
But, in fact, Descartes was educated in the Jesuit college of La Flèche. His famous dream in Ulm in Winter 1619 deals with a classic question of Ignatian spirituality, namely: "Quod vitae sectabor iter?" (Which way shall I take in my life?). His Regulae ad directionem ingenii (1618) dealing with the formation of the scientific mind has a clear Ignatian mark. Not to speak of the title itself of one of his masterpieces, the Meditationes. Some of his methods recall Ignatian exercises as well, particularly when he moves to The Netherlands where he expects "to lead a life as solitary and withdrawn as if I were in the most remote desert" (Discours de la Méthode, 3rd Part, last sentence). The methodic doubt aims at attaining self-mastery and with it peace of mind ("tranquilité de son âme"). I pointed to this in my Leben im Informationszeitalter (1995).
There is also an interesting dialogue between Descartes and Princess Elisabeth about how an "immaterial being" can move or be moved by a body. Princess Elisabeth speaks from an Aristotelian perspective about the soul "informing" the body. Descartes uses the same word, namely "inform" but with the modern meaning that the ideas communicate or "informant" the intellect when then it turns its attention to what is drawn (depictae) in the bodily imagination (phantasia corporea). For Descartes, in opposition to Aristotle, the "forms of thought" (cogitationis formam) are not "depicted" in the brain. The mind communicates directly with the ideas and in turn with the brain without any kind of substantial 'in-formational' process. See more in R. Capurro & J. Holgate: Messages and Messengers, 2011, p. 167.)
You write: "In general terms, we can find with both Descartes and Gadamer a claim that we can never exhaustively conceive of the foundation of our capacity to know and understand anything. Consequences of this in this essay are ethical by nature: if we cannot conceive of the foundation of our knowledge and understanding, an overly self confident attitude could approach arrogance." But what about the library and Librarianship? Libraries are places where we can find knowledge. Librarianship deals with methods about how to do it. Scriptum est means, from an angeletic perspective, missum est. Gadamer's hermeneutics deals with the interpretation of a given text. Angeletics takes a step back and considers texts as messages. Hermes, like Iris, the rainbow, are messengers, not only interpreters. A library can be considered as a deposit of messages waiting for potential receivers that are also potential senders in a kind of angeletic Wirkungsgeschichte. The tradition, in terms of "what the history has handed down to us" (Überlieferung), is itself a phenomenon different from the one dealing with interpretation. What is a library? a lieu de passage. History (Geschichtlichkeit) is a messaging process (schicken).
I understand the Cartesian "monologism" in the platonic (Phaidros) and augustinian tradition as the dialogue of the soul with itself, i.e., with messages arriving and leaving the soul in a process of permanent selection. The soul is no less a lieu de passage as the library is. The split between sender and receiver is not only a Cartesian but already a Socratic and Christian, and particularly Ignatian one, with very different connotations in each historical context.
Thanks for bringing Blondel into the conversation. When I was studying philosophy with the Jesuits in Argentina (1968-1970) I got in contact with his thinking because my supervisor, Prof. Juan Carlos Scannone S.J., had written his PhD on Blondel (See my: Filosofía existenciaria y dialógica cristiana, 1970). The question of "the middle term," the mediator, is crucial for Blondel's christian-hegelian thought. Libraries are mediators. They deal with the scriptum est as missum est. There are two poles of human messaging, one concerns the situation in which all messages are considered as being addressed to me. The other situation concerns a sender who thinks that he has a message for humanity. Libraries are located in between these two poles. Sometimes they imagine that they are the place for all knowledge. They believe that they are or should be omniscient. At other times they believe that they should be a mediator for the right messages and only for the right messages. The Aristotelian middle (meson) is also, in this case, difficult to find.
Thank you for your contribution.
Clash or Transformation? Some Thoughts Concerning the Onslaught
of Market Economy on the Internet and its Retaliation
What was the Internet? A promise of change with regard to the hierarchic structure of 20th century mass media. The horizontal and distributed structure of the Internet offered an alternative and originated, ironically, in the US defence strategy. You describe accurately this process that began with the hope of the cyberspace "as a space of communicative freedom" expressed in the libertarian ideals of John Perry Barlow and Howard Rheingold as well as in the visions of Pierre Levy. Sherry Turkle began with a positive view of this media revolution. What is the Internet? The change from net illusion to "Net Delusion" (Morozov) is shared in the meanwhile by critical thinkers like Lawrence Lessig, Evgeny Morozov, and David Gerlernter, to mention just a few. Digital monopolies transform classical capitalism into a digital one based on a huge accumulation of data provided intentionally or unintentionally by the users. New forms of social amalgam originate, with positive and negative possibilities with regard to cooperation and subordination, creativity and oppression, inclusion and exclusion, hate and respect.
You highlight some positive aspects when you write: "The possibilities of virtual identity are still in use but it seems that through the amalgamation with RL an intensified intersection between personal face-to-face relationships and virtual connections has taken place. I take this as a sign that the internet has been seamlessly incorporated into the everyday lifeworld (to use the term of Edmund Husserl and phenomenological sociology). The net is no longer a disconnected realm of extra-normal validity, but rather embodies and represents the continuation of everyday life that offers alternative means of being."
I appreciate your reconstruction of the Habermasian theory of society and communication from an angeletic perspective in the digital age. This is an innovative approach also for me.
I agree with your caveat concerning neoliberalism: "The supposed automatic generation of beneficial effects through market economy and its functional laws leads neoliberal theory to throw off political frameworks and thus forget the crucial role of politics in Mandeville and Smith [...]". I share the hope in your conclusion: "Though market economy has always expressed the view that "the customer is always right" on its imaginary shop and office walls, it did not behave accordingly. [...] Now the customers have become evaluators of products and can retaliate on a broad and economically relevant scale. Cooperation could seize strategy — and thus open up possibilities of a real mutual steering of the economy where all those affected by the economy, the stakeholders in a broad sense, would guide the economic processes to real and universal public benefits. We then would witness a new, socially productive message in economy: go for co-operation, if you want to win. Our ecologically tormented planet and our societies torn by stratification and the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor could certainly use that transformation."
Thank you for your friendship and your longstanding support of ICIE and IRIE.
Benjamin Constant, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche on truth and truthfulness: what an exciting conversation! In his answer to Constant, Kant writes (Of a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns) that there is no right to truth but only to one's own truthfulness ("der Mensch habe ein Recht auf seine eigene Wahrhaftigkeit (veracitas)" because the truth of a sentence is not dependent on the will of a human subject. The question is whether we have the moral duty to truthfulness independently of any situation or, as Kant says, only with regard to statements he cannot avoid, whether or not they could cause a damage ("in Aussagen, die er nicht umgehen kann: sie mag nun ihm selbst oder andern schaden"), "damage" ("nuit") being the concept used by Constant and that Kant rejects based on the argument that it is a matter of "injustice" ("Unrecht"). Constant writes in De réactions politiques (1797): "To tell the truth is therefore only duty with regard to those who have a right to know the truth. But nobody has a right to know the truth that harms others." ("Dire la vérité n'est donc un devoir qu'envers ceux qui ont droit à la vérité. Or nul homme n'a droit à la vérité qui nuit à autrui."). Kant also says that this unconditional duty applies "under all circumstances" ("in allen Verhältnissen"). I add: under all circumstances that we cannot avoid. The reason for this famous Kantian rigorism is the fact that human action (praxis) cannot have knowledge about incidental causes or chance, a form of causality that Aristotle calls apo tyches – Tyche is the goddess of fortune – in the second book of his Physics. Kant pays tribute to human contingency. We cannot dupe chance. But we can be cautious if we can foresee the probability of such situations without being a potential liar ("ein Lügner (in potentia)") trying to avoid them. This is a second-order solution in case it works.
We could broaden this discussion embracing the topic of parrhesia in ancient Greece addressed by Michel Foucault, or the tradition of indirect speech in the "Far East," and particularly the famous reservatio mentalis that is supposed to have been invented by the Jesuits and was attacked by Blaise Pascal. In fact, it was the canonist Martín de Azpilcueta, the "Doctor Navarrus," (1491-1586), who developed not only a monetarian theory but also a moral casuistry, that included the doctrine of mentalis restrictio. He influenced the Jesuit Leonardus Lessius (Lenaert Leys) (1554-1623), professor of moral theology at the Jesuit College in Leuven from 1585 to 1600. The Jesuits as champions of liberalism and conscious self-ownership? Wim Decock's paper Jesuit freedom of contract (Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis 77 (2009) 423-458) is worth reading in this context.
Maybe I come near to what I wanted to say at the workshop on ICT Ethics and Public Policy that took place in the Europe House, the EU Commission and European Parliament's UK Office in London – will this House still exist in one or two years? – in March 2011 with the provocative title Never enter your real data. I mentioned Nietzsche, Leo Strauss (Persecution and the Art of Writing), and Helen Nissenbaum's Privacy in context (2010) where the concept of "contextual integrity" plays a key role. Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum have published a book with the title Obfuscation. A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest (2015), a kind of guerrilla tactics for self-protection in the digital age. We discussed the concept of integrity that goes back to Aristotle's teleiotes, concerning the relation of parts to a whole. Integrity is an important ethical value in the field of corporate responsibility.
You write: "The spell of modern ICT has not only led to the world becoming both a smaller and, at the same time, an unthinkably bigger place but it has shaken the very foundations of how we lead our lives and who we are in the digital age. [...] We would suggest that the answer seems to lie somewhere between the extremes of a digital guerrilla and a magician in order to navigate safely and swim against the tides where necessary." These two extremes looking for a middle, in Aristotle's terms, are indeed a key ethical issue in our time. Digital guerrilla can become a frustrating issue as far is it is a tactic for individual and not a societal solution. Digital magicians might show us how to pull a rabbit out of a hat but such solutions are, eventually, illusory and deceptive.
This is the case with "the idea of digital code providing absolute certainty over claimed identities" which is "both portrayed as the holy grail of identification technologies and as a deception itself." It follows: "If the digital code cannot provide such certainty, can code provide insight into who and what we are above and beyond traditional definitions of being? Authenticating and verifying human identity through code is infinitely mutable and therefore infinitely open to deception. Yet, derived as possessing ontological potential, code, whether single or multi biometric is paraded as a symbol of certainty, as a token to be trusted speedily." What is the middle between guerrillas and magicians? Maybe lawyers, ethicists and IT experts working together with guerrillas and magicians can provide some advice, assuming that the quest on how "to navigate safely and swim against the tides where necessary" has been woken up.
Thank you for your friendship
and for the opportunity to discuss these
issues with you, Daniel, in the Acatech (National Academy of Science
Engineering) project A Culture of Privacy and Trust for the Internet
(2011-2013) and with you, Juliet, particularly at the Biometrics
London in 2014.
You write: "The fact that, for the first time in human history, a wide variety of societies and cultures are living in a concrete, common and synchronic history poses new challenges to any claim of universality in our interconnected, interdependent world." This is a new situation in human history that "would not be possible without the current stage of development of digital technologies of information." The concept of Intercultural Information Ethics and, as you suggest, of Dialectical Intercultural Information Ethics are possible answers to this historical challenge. It is "the theme of our time" (El tema de nuestro tiempo, 1923) as José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) would say. It was his first philosophical book where he develops the concept of "vital reason" (razón vital) criticising the onesidedness of the concept of reason in rationalism and the blindness of total relativism and mono-perspectivism. Indeed, "we must be able to articulate hard philosophical reflection with precise empirical studies and actions (in Marxian terminology, this articulation is called praxis)."
Your approach "considers the contradictions between the universal (symbolic) and the particular (the imaginary) in light of the traditional contradiction between universal values and particular morals. Second, we should consider the contradictions between singular-concrete-living-individuals, groups or corporations and entire societies. Among these "groups," social classes deserve a special attention." And you follow Marx when your write that "the reduction of human subjects to objects, resulting from the universal exploitation of labor, in all its particular and singular forms, is ethically unsustainable. The corollary of this exploitation is violence, irrationality, the abortion of the individual's creative potentialities for self-development, for solidarity and well-being. This reduction can (or should) be concretely surpassed." This is, indeed, the heart of Marxian ethics that you now extend to our historical situation in the digital age.
Concerning the concept of culture, you "highlight the fact that the idea of culture as a monolithic, homogeneous, stable unity does not correspond to anything in reality. Each human group is characterised by divisions of gender, generation and labor, the latter supposedly resulting from the former, as well as from other factors such as wars and conquests (violence). Such divisions necessarily place each subgroup in a different perspective with regard to the unifying culture. Each of these perspectives frames the subgroup's particular (imaginary) universal (symbolic) horizon." From this perspective you criticize culture in a negative sense or culture as ideology, i.e., "as a set of hierarchic frames of worldviews and social life representations, explanations, opinions, values, sympathies and rejections (tastes), senses of reality and the like, that justify and legitimate class exploitation through religion, philosophy, the economic and social sciences, cinema, TV, journalism, Facebook, common sense (Schneider, 2015)." You ask: "What does the above supposition imply?" Your answer is: "The most desirable goal is a transcultural ethics, that is to say in dialectical logical terms, the concrete and dynamic universality of the unity of the diverse. To translate this into ethical terms, it represents the theoretical and practical conciliation between universal and particular ethical values, from where singular ethical actions would have more favorable conditions to take place."
Thank you for bringing me to Gramsci, Golem and Google! An intercultural information flow is needed in order to bridge the informational and not only the digital divide. It is an honor for me to be mentioned in the same breath with Gramsci. Thank you for your friendship.
Culture Industry to Information Society: How Horkheimer and
Adorno's Conception of the Culture Industry Can Help Us Examine
Overload in the Capitalist Information Society
Your contribution ties in seamlessly with approaches by Christian Fuchs, Bernd Frohmann and Marco Schneider. You write: "One of the most noted problems of the Information Society, both on a societal and an individual level, is the phenomenon of information overload." This is paradoxical as you remark, since every human society needs information, particularly in a crisis situation but also in everyday life. This is the reason why I think that the difference between message and information is crucial. We can then speak about message overload that we call SPAM. But information being the result of a process of selection cannot then become a burden except in case there are too many messages that are considered as potentially relevant. This turns then into a plethora of selected relevant information and the problem arises about how all these parts belong to a whole: the whole of my life, my family, the company I work for, the society in which I live, or the world we share with all other human beings.
But it happens, as Karl Marx clearly and critically analyzed, that the flow (Zirkulation) of money in a capitalist system becomes apparently independent of the capitalists as if it had life of its own becoming a fetish. In the case of the present information society, the flow of capital is based on or is indeed in some cases identical with the flow of digital data: The more data I have the richer I am. Digital data become the currency of the information society. We can call it Big Data capitalism that manages algorithmically the transformation of big data into big capital, avoiding data overload. This leads to a situation of informational alienation that you and others describe so well in which the "information society theory is a form of ideology." By the way, this can also be the case of a non-critical theory of what I call message society. Messaging capitalism is then a special form of societal oppression where the power is practiced through message control and surveillance leading to Kafkaesque scenarios.
In your words: "Consequently, the products – or rather, commodities – created in the production-processes that involve these productive forces are increasingly of an informational character; that is to say, many types of information – or rather, information-artifacts – in the capitalist information society are (regarded as) commodities or objects of consumption. As commodities, information-artifacts mask the economic character of the human relations of production; the social relations that are involved in the production of information-artifacts are not perceived as relations between individuals, but rather as economic relationships between money and commodities that are traded on the market. This is what Marx (1867) described as commodity fetishism."
How can this magic transformation of digital data become capital? Your analysis is exemplary particularly with regard to the difference between what you call "information-artifacts as commodities" and "information-artifacts as information. If we consider only the last kind or artifacts we would be idealist consumerism in Marxian terms. You write: "In a capitalist, profit-driven, and consumption oriented society, the concept of consumption of information-artifacts as commodities is different from the consumption of information-artifacts as information. That is to say, in contrast to the consumption of information(-artifacts as information) in terms of a mental process of selection, processing, and understanding or sense-making, the consumption of information(-artifacts as commodities) in a capitalist information society has a substantial dimension of acquisition, trade, collection, accumulation, possession, and exhibition. "What we believe we need" in the capitalist information society is shaped to a great extent by the – false, some may say – consumerist needs that are propagated by our social surrounding."
Your Apple quote: "[...] all the world’s websites in your hands; it’s videos, photos, more books than you could read in a lifetime" is indeed a clear example of potential message overload disguised as a huge apparently free gift for the consumer. This kind of voluntary self-exploitation (Han) based on promises of happiness is something that makes the difference to the capitalist society of the 19th and 20th centuries. Étienne de La Boétie (1530-1563), a close friend to Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), described the voluntary submission to tyrants in his essay De la servitude volontaire ou Contr'un. He writes: "the first reason for voluntary servitude is custom" ("la premiere raison de la servitude volontaire c'es la coustume") (La Boétie, De la servitude volontaire, Gallimard 1993, p. 102). Information ethics is, in my perspective, a critical reflexion on information moralities or customs.
Following your detailed analysis of Horkheimer and Adorno it is evident that we need a critical digital enlightenment different from what digital enlightenment sometimes is aiming at, namely to enlighten people just about the benefits of the digital revolution. We need a Dialektik der digitalen Aufklärung of which your contribution is an important part. I fully agree with your last sentence: "From my perspective, resistance to information overload is in many situations an act of resistance to (transnational informational) capitalism itself. It is vital."
Thank you for your friendship and for our frequent exchange of ideas in Berlin.
In this contribution you point to an important ethical and legal issue concerning the use of information by university students as users and producers of intellectual works, namely the copyright legislation and the ethical debate dealing with it. You write: "The use and creation of intellectual works on the part of university students has implications of a legal and of an ethical nature. Indeed, the frontier between these two realms can prove to be quite fuzzy. It is not always clear which uses of a work are permitted within the right of quotation, or how to discern plagiarism from a dishonourable or lazy practice that is not strictly illegal." This presupposes that we have lawyers and ethicists that are acquainted with our field. One more reason for integrating legal and ethical issues in our curricula so that we can make aware university students in other fields what we deal with in our discipline and why this is important for them too.
You refer to the societal issue of information literacy. In their paper Three Theoretical Perspectives on Information Literacy (Human IT, 11 (2012) 2, pp. 93-130) Louise Limberg, Olof Sundin, and Sanna Talja suggest to use the plural form instead. They write: "Three theoretical perspectives are presented that represent different understandings of information literacy; phenomenography, sociocultural theory and Foucauldian discourse analysis. According to all three theoretical lenses, information literacy is embedded in and shaped by as well as shaping the context in which it is embedded. In consequence, we propose the notion of information literacies in the plural." (p. 93). Already in 2004 the Japanese information scientist Tadashi Takenouchi wrote in his paper A Consideration on the Concept of Information Literacy (in: International Review of Information Ethics, 2 (2004) 11): "Is information literacy "necessary for all"? Now we can answer this question in the following manner: It is impossible to conclude such without specifying the category, field, and level of the concept of information literacy in each situation. If we do not care about such matters, discussions will be confused and may lead to faulty conclusions." (p. 5).
This is in line with what you write about the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL): "Fifteen years after putting out its standards, the ACRL came out with a new version, in this case a denominated “framework,” in an attempt to update and adapt the standards to the rapidly changing higher education environment. The change of denomination — from standards to framework — reflects a shift in scope. The old closed list of standards with their corresponding learning outcomes and skills has been replaced by a flexible set of core concepts interconnected with multiple options for their implementation." On the other hand, you are right when you state: "Moral rights can differ from one country to another (Fernandez-Molina & Peis, 2011), but there are two recognized by any national law on copyright: paternity (or attribution) and integrity." This means that we have to teach university students in general and our students in particular, the complexity of ethical and legal issues that you analyze so well in your contribution. Your training program should be mandatory for university students.
Thank you for your contribution.
on Rafael Capurro's Thoughts in Education and Research of
Information Science in Brazil.
I owe a great debt to Brazilian
academic institutions, particularly
IBICT, for giving me the opportunity to meet colleagues and students
I could share my thoughts and they theirs,
V Encontro Nacional de Pesquisa em Ciência da Informação, Belo Horizonte, December 10-12, 2003.
III Colóquio Internacional de Metafísica, Natal, March 20-24, 2009.
I Simpósio Brasileiro de Ética da Informação organized by Gustavo Henrique de Araujo Freire, Universidade Federal de Paraíba, João Pessoa, March 18-19, 2010.
Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Escola de Ciência da Informação; Belo Horizonte, March 22, 2010.
IBICT (Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia) e Programa de Pós-Graduação de Ciência da Informação da UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, March 24, 2010.
Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Escola de Comuniçaões e Artes e Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciência da Informação, São Paulo , March 25, 2010.
Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Marília: VII Encontro Internacional de Informação, Conhecimento e Ação, Marília, October 31 - November 11, 2011.
II Seminário Internacional de Informação para a Saúde. Fortaleza, May 21-23, 2012.
IBICT/UFRJ: Aula da disciplina Ética e Informação, Rio de Janeiro, November 21, 2014.
V Encontro Ulepicc 2014 (União Latina de Economia Política da Informação, da Comunicação e da Cultura): Comunicação, cultura, informação e democracia, Rio de Janeiro, November 28, 2014.
Universidade de Brasilia & IBICT: Palestra: “Teoria, Epistemologia e Interdisciplinaridade em Ciência da Informação” Brasilia, December 2, 2014.
Universidade de Campinas, Perspectivas Unicamp 50 ANOS. Mesa: "Impactos das Tecnologias da Informação na Filosofia, nas Artes e na Ciência", Campinas,, September 15, 2016.
IBICT: I Colóquio Teoria, Epistemologia e Interdisciplinaridade em Ciência da Informação, Rio de Janeiro, September 19, 2016.
I congratulate you for the
research programs you are establishing. Count
on my support. Thank you for your friendship.
Your research on the changes taking place in our field is an indispensable requisite for improving the academic curriculum. The former study Knowledge Map of Information Study which you, Chaim, invited me to participate, was sponsored by the Israel Science Foundation: I quote from the website: "It aimed at exploring the theoretical foundations of Information Science as well a developing a comprehensive, systematic, and scientifically valid knowledge map of the information science knowledge domain, and grounding it on a solid theoretical basis." The study included 54 leading scholars in the field of Information Science.
Your present study is different. You write: "While meeting colleagues they asked to replicate the study Knowledge Map of Information Science (Zins, 2007a, 2007b, 2007c, 2007d), which clarified the various conceptions of the field and mapped its main subfields; this time — in the context of LIS studies in Brazil. The idea was to formulate the basics of LIS education that are acceptable by all the institutions surveyed that offer a bachelor's degree." This is an interesting approach as it aims at doing this kind of research in different cultural contexts. Let us hope that other colleagues follow your path and reflect locally on "content selection in undergraduate LIS education."
Thank you for sharing this research
and for your friendship remembering when we all three met in 2011 at
"VII Encontro Internacional de Informação, Conhecimento e
organized by the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in
Thank you for your longstanding friendship and cooperation promoting Information Ethics in Africa.
Letting Rafael speak by himself
On the morning of April 8 in 2005, a few months before turning sixty, I took part in a public forum in Berlin entitled “Stem Cell Research – Roads and Actions in Europe” organized by the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, as part of an international congress on “Biopolitics and Regenerative Medicine”. In the afternoon I took the train from Berlin to my home in Karlsruhe. I arrived home at around nine that night, very tired after several hours riding the train. Right away, I sat at my desk and started feverishly reading and answering my e-mails. At around ten that night my wife asked if I would like to watch the news on tv. As I did so, I heard my heart beating loudly, an incessant ‘thump-thump-thump’. I tried to calm down myself and my wife. “It’s just a little stress. It will pass.” But it didn’t go away; instead it continued through the night and for several weeks after, day and night. The next day I consulted my physician who couldn’t diagnose any type of heart rhythm disorder or any other cause, so he suggested that I consult an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT). The ENT told me it could be a virus. I felt intense stress and aches in my muscles, specifically in my shoulders, which is why I decided to consult an orthopedist. He told me the cause could be in the neck region and the spine. I had to wear a neck brace for several weeks. But this therapy didn’t ease the pain or the relentless thumping of my heart resounding in my head. Naturally all of this took a toll not only on our private life, but on my academic activities. I was halfway through the semester and needed to commute into Stuttgart several times a week. During class I would try to distract myself but it reached a point when I decided to interrupt my teaching and gave notice of my illness. I slept poorly and became increasingly nervous. A family friend recommended that I visit a chiropractor. He confirmed that my pelvis was displaced which compromised the spine and the neck muscles. With a single motion, he returned the pelvis to its normal position. The thumping of my heart ceased immediately. I breathed deeply. However, the thumping resumed shortly after. The muscles in my neck and nape were very stiff and exerted pressure on the arteries. The chiropractor told me that this stiffening should be treated with physiotherapeutic methods. But he also told me the following: “Mr. Capurro, you are not ill. You just need to change your lifestyle.” He was right. It is clear now that the real origin of my ailment was what we nowadays refer to as a burnout, formerly known as surmenage, that is, something caused by excessive work, and in our messaging society, by an information overload. I was completely exhausted.
friend helped me calm down the next day, and I slowly
started to stabilize. Conversations with a psychologist were also a
helpful. He suggested that I take a few weeks off. A family friend
go to Friedborn, a recuperation and recreation center in the south of
Forest, known in German as “Kurort”, or in English as a “spa”. When I
at noon on a hot August day, I was carrying with me a suitcase filled
books. The establishment’s director said to me: “But I thought you were
here to rest”. The first few days were
very tough. I had to fight the urge to read my e-mail. That is when I
to rid myself of all contact with communication devices. I filled my
long walks. The forest known as ‘Hotzenwald’ is a very beautiful
‘Friedborn’ is located some seven hundred meters above sea level,
forests, the ruins of a medieval castle, and the Murg Creek with its
path and many springs. The center also has a very healthy food offering
consisting of vegetables, salads, tea and natural water, all of
quality. They also offer massages and several types of muscular therapy
I was lucky to chat with a very caring doctor and she understood my
started a journey towards becoming physically and spiritually restored.
three weeks I had made a full recovery. I had learned my lesson
of the problems of the information society, the excess of information.
was a while before I regained trust in my own body. The anxiety had
in my bones. I changed my life and started taking daily walks in the
without my cell phone, refusing professional invitations, and not
e-mails after eight at night. Whenever possible I now
go to bed at 10 p.m. I put my personal
life at center stage. Whenever I see symptoms of being “dragged along”
dismiss them. If possible I will go once a year to ‘Friedborn’. I eat
and light food. My body and my spiritual life started developing in an
free manner. Now I can react calmly and with self-possession when faced
envious and resentful behavior, and other challenges from information
To put it more broadly: we need to have – both individually and
socially – an
immune system that is adapted to the information society, or we won’t
to survive in it, much less attain a good life.
The term angeletics comes from Greek angelos / angelia, meaning messenger / messages. We use these terms when we refer to angels or divine messengers. There is a long tradition in theology and religious studies called angelology. Angeletics is in this regard different from angelology. Its purpose is to study the phenomenon of messages and messengers within the boundaries of the condition humaine, having as its primary object human communication but including technical and natural processes as well. For the philosophers of the Enlightenment, such as Immanuel Kant, the censorship-free distribution of scientific knowledge through the press belongs to the core of a free society. Peter Sloterdijk has pointed out that we live in a “time of empty angels” or “mediatic nihilism,” in which we forget what message is to be sent while the messengers of transmission media multiply: “This is the very disangelium of current times." [Kantilenen der Zeit, Lettre International 1997, 75] The word disangelium (bad news) sets a contrast to euangelium, addressing the empty nature of the messages disseminated by the mass media, culminating in McLuhans dictum: “The medium is the message.” The question today is then to what extent the Internet creates a new angeletic space giving rise to new synergies of messages and messengers beyond the hierarchical structure of mass media.
There is a
close relationship between angeletics and hermeneutics. Hermeneutics
was one of
the main schools of philosophy of the 20th century. Beyond scholarly
we can say that one main result of 20th century philosophical thinking
the awareness of the interpretative nature of human knowledge. This is
for instance, for Karl Popper, for whom scientific knowledge is
conjectural and subject to empirical falsifications, no less than for
hermeneutics as addressed by Hans-Georg Gadamer. Since interpretation
message transmission the “hermeneutic circle” no less than the “logic
scientific discovery” is implicitly located within the angeletic
is first and foremost a messenger and only secondarily an interpreter
translator. Throughout this book angeletics is the general term we use
cultural, social and philosophical phenomenon of messages and
tend to employ ‘messaging theory’ specifically for the more scientific
technological aspects of the phenomenon of messaging.
Source: On Messages and Messengers. An Introduction.
the post-doctoral thesis "Hermeneutics of scientific
a compilation of articles "Living in the
Information Age" (1995),
another compilation "Ethics in the Net"
He is co-editor of two book
series, one at Fink Verlag (Munich) (5 volumes) the book
series of the ICIE together with Thomas Hausmanninger
and the other one at Steiner Verlag (Stuttgart) on Media Ethics together with Petra Grimm (18 volumes)
Petra Grimm und Rafael Capurro, Hrsg.: Menschenbilder in den Medien: ethische Vorbilder? 1, 2002.
Ethik im Netz. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag. 2, 2003
He was co-editor and co-author
of two other main works, namely Rafael Capurro, Michael
Eldred and Daniel Nagel "Digital
Whoness: Identity, Privacy
Freedom in the Cyberworld" (Berlin 2013),
shared some 105 texts published only in the World Wide Web, among them
time as a Jesuit, an
a compilation of maxims
another compilation with the title "Quaestiones disputatae"
excerpts from some of his publications, a text with the title "My
exercises" echoing Loyola's spiritual exercises, a text on Charles
in the Banda Oriental, a Laudatio for Christiane
Floyd, a large
compilation of different
authors dealing with messages and messengers (Angeletics - Work
in Progress), his correspondence
theologian Karl Rahner, essays on Leonardo da Vinci, an
homage to Nelson
Mandela, and a text on his great uncle Federico E. Capurro,
founder of the Library School at Uruguay State University.
some 30 interviews
in different media among them a dialogue on mobility and
driving for the German Car Association (2016).
Although the use of the concept of information in the natural sciences and humanities achieved a height in the seventies it was difficult to foresee that the conjunction of librarianship, bibliography and computation with the label Information Science would change that much as it happened after the invention of the internet and the impact of social media in the 21st century. A reorientation with focus on social, economic and political issues took place that are today at the heart of the debate about societies shaped and often dominated by digital technology and its global players. It was also at that time difficult to imagine the different uses of the concept of information in the sciences that gave rise to a Science of Information whose beginning were the meetings with the title of Foundations of Information Science that started in the middle of the nineties in Vienna and culminated with the creation of the International Society for the Study of Information (IS4SI).
It was also difficult for me in the seventies to imagine the philosophical problematization of the concept of information to which I tried to approach prudently as terra incognita that turned today into an academic hot spot. But looking at the contributions in the last years I have sometimes the impression that some authors believe they invented the Philosophy of Information and that such a field rises with digital technology and its recent predecessors putting aside or just ignoring the great contributions not only of the Western philosophical tradition as well as of other traditions, that is to say, without retrieving the history of thought about this concept and its subjacent words in all its epochal amplitude and semantic complexity. A philosophy of information that forgets its roots is damned to dry lacking access to the currents that make it possible and get it alive if they are remembered and reinterpreted, that is to say, retrieved in a deeper sense as the one given to this concept since in the seventies in the context of Information Science. This was one lesson I learned from the work of Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker.
But I have to strongly criticize myself. My thesis is based on Western philosophical traditions. It is a metaphysical thesis that shines forth particularly in the last chapter (6.) with implicit and explicit allusions to Hegel and dialectical materialism weakened by hermeneutics and philosophy of language. This weakness, remembering Gianni Vattimo's "pensiero debole", has a post-metaphysical manifestation in my post-doctoral book "Hermeneutics of Scientific Information" from 1986. When I translate my thesis from 1978 I do it implicitly from this turn as well as from the one that took place in the first decade of the new millenium and that I use to call angeletics. The great experience that I mentioned at the beginning has to do with this back and forth characteristic of a thinking that does not move forward in a linear form starting with a word with different meanings and used in different contexts towards a conceptual definition as it is the case of this thesis, but remains open to what conditions itself, in most cases without being aware of it but in case it flourishes or is allowed to do it opens the opportunity to unexpected turns. This way of thinking from and towards language and what language shows and conceals was called "hermeneutic circle". But, it is Heidegger himself that questions it and speaks about messages and messengers to which I refer at the end of my thesis. The roots of this change can be found already in "Being and Time" that I interpret as being fundamentally angeletic, that is to say, open to what phenomena show and hide from themselves before being pre-informed by modern subjectivity. My angeletic turn took place in the first decade of the new century and culminated with the book edited in cooperation with John Holgate (Australia): "Messages and Messengers. Angeletics as an Approach to the Phenomenology of Communication" (Munich 2011).
Rethinking my thesis of 1978 this turn was in some way pre-viewed in the excursus on the Greek concept of message (angelia). The reason for this excursus is very simple. Looking for a term in classic Greek and Latin that would correspond to what we mean by information in everyday life I was confronted with a kind of linguistic blockage finding it only since Modernity. I tried to decipher the enigma subjacent to this thesis by following the hints by von Weizsäcker on the Greek concepts of eidos and morphe translated into Latin with forma. The challenge was to find Latin texts where these concepts were translated with informatio and informo something for which this thesis provides large evidence. But the question remained open up about how far can we find, beyond the path suggested by von Weizsäcker, one or more words in classical Greek (and in other languages) that could be translated using the term information in its everyday use today. The excursus was a first attempt to answer this question. It is evident that this issue brings us near to the abyss of anachronism as analyzed by Siam Lewis showing the historic and cultural hiatuses of our term news and the difficulty to use it when we translate classical Greek texts. What comes nearer to our present everyday meaning is, according to Lewis, the word angelía.
The angeletic turn allowed me to leave, and then come back, to the semantic network of information as well as to leave and then come back to hermeneutics. How can we think the relation between message and information that is inscribed in Shannon's scheme but remains unthought? How can we think the relation between interpreting a message (hermeneutics) and the act of its transmission (angeletics)? It is evident, at least for me, that a message has to be codified and transmitted before it is interpreted by the receiver. Angeletics, semiotics and hemeneutics build a knot in which language is at stake and with it human as well as non-human being to which Weizsäcker and Heidegger refer. But in which way(s) this twisting takes place in other languages, cultures and ways of being? What terms were used and are used today and up to what extend does it deal with cultural and/or historical hiatuses like in the case of news, that recall us to be humble and modest when we translate a thesis like the one written in 1978 within the background of Western metaphysics being aware that it is apparently the same person who wrote it and now translates it? And, eventually, up to what extent are questions regarding these ties originally ethical questions, that is to say, questions — or, better, messages? — in which our being-in-the-digital-world is at stake that is called today digital ethics? Sometimes we have the tendency to answer these questions with a list of well meant advices or, in some cases, with a critical discussion dealing with an ethics of artificial intelligence addressing sustainable life in a society which conceives itself as a commodity managed by the digital empires. But we would need, in fact, a broad philosophical foundation of such ethical considerations.
I would not like to finish this preface giving the impression of being pessimistic. Quite the contrary. My message is to expose ourselves to the questions that our epoch (and other epochs) address to us in all their dimensions without searching for simplistic solutions about the great issues concerning human life. The term information no less than the term message can be understood as an anchor that we throw when we arrive at a port of call and weigh it starting a new voyage in the ocean of language, that is to say, in a world moved by forces that we cannot master but with which we can play in several ways, taking appropriate responsibility, enjoying the trips that life offers to the task of thinking as translation.
Ethics and Information Technology (INSEIT) honoured Rafael with
Weizenbaum Award in Information and Computer Ethics 2021.
In his keynote Rafael acknowledges his intellectual and existential
Weizenbaum: A Parrhesiastes in the Digital Age".
A Reader on Information Ethics
Edited by Coetzee Bester, Johannes Britz, Rafael Capurro & Rachel Fischer
International Centre for Information Ethics (ICIE), 2021
See Preface here
Rafael honored the teachers he had the
privilege to meet personally.