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Journal of Philosophy: A Cross-Disciplinary Inquiry

Volume 7, Issue 17, Spring 2012

Laurie Johnson
Pages 40-59

Spectral Machinery (or Beyond Essence and System)

The prospects for a phenomenology of technology have been guided in the past decade by a split between supporters of Martin Heidegger and those who subscribe to Bernard Stiegler’s critique of Heidegger. This essay proposes that both are needed for a phenomenology of what Edward Castronova calls “synthetic worlds” (large on-line environments like Second Life and World of Warcraft). Here is a phenomenology that must take into account histories of design and technical evolution to account for the particular “fantasy of disembodiment” that shapes a user’s experience of a synthetic world, forgetting the bodily engagement with hardware.

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