Floridi: Transformation of our ontology – interactability of entities

When a particular concept of revolution occurs, it changes a number of things. One good sign to understand whether we are witnessing a cultural, conceptual revolution is to look at whether that revolution is changing our conception of reality. Now, the information revolution, understood as a Fourth Revolution and so forth, is doing exactly that. It’s changing our conception of what it means to be an entity, an object, something that you deal with. In the good old days we could call it Newtonian metaphysics, or Newtonian ontology. It had to be space and time, it had to be kickable, it had to be something that would bang against something else, billiard balls on the table, that was the ideal object for anyone.
Slowly we have acquired a different conception of what is real. Real is no longer something that is in space and time and causally connected to everything else, but it can be touched, and so on. As long as it is something that is interactable, as long as they can interact with it, then I consider it real. I don’t mind if it is a virtual entity on the other side of the screen, as far as I’m concerned, that is as real as it gets. So it could be in Second Life, it could be on Facebook, I could be on a particular game, I could be playing with other colleagues, friends and so on – if the entity with which I am involved, responds to my actions in a particular way, and I can see that, I can handle it, I can get some interactions going, then that thing is, is going to be assumed as, real.
Now, this is a major transformation in our ontology. To simplify, we can move from ‘things were real if they never changed,’ those were the most real things in the Universe. For Plato, the most real things were the unchangeable things. It had to be something that was subject to your perceptions: you had to touch it, to taste it, kick it, and so on. It had to be, above all, in space and time, with those particular values. And then we moved to an interaction criteria. Now, today, a digital ontology is an ontology that has a bias, privileges the interactability of entities, over their Newtonian features or their Platonic features.
Now, the interaction here, and here is my concern, is that it doesn’t have to be digital, as in sort of zero-ones. We could just talk about informational entities, and they can be continuous, they don’t have to be analogue. As long as it’s something that is subject to interaction, then that thing is real. And that is where we are slowly moving towards, at least in a sort of popular understanding of what is real.



09.01.2014 · 20:29

2 responses to “Floridi: Transformation of our ontology – interactability of entities

  1. Pingback: Floridi: Transformation of our ontology – interactability of entities | luís bettencourt moniz

  2. Pingback: La Rivoluzione Digitale e L'Ontologia Centro Studi Etnografia Digitale

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