Phenomenology of digital-being

Human Studies 24 (1-2):87-111 (2001)
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Abstract

This paper explores the ontology of digital information or the nature of digital-being. Even though a digital-being is not a physical thing, it has many essential features of physical things such as substantiality, extensions, and thing-totality. Despite their lack of material bases, digital-beings can provide us with perceivedness or universal passive pregivenness. Still, a digital-being is not exactly a thing, because it does not belong to objective time and space. Due to its perfect duplicability, a digital being can exist at multiple locations simultaneously – that is, it defies normal spatiotemporal constraints. With digital beings on the Internet, we can establish intercorporeal relationships. The World Wide Web opens up new possibilities of Dasein's “being-able-to-be-with-one-another” and new modes of “Being-with-others”. The new modes of communication based on digital-beings compel us to re-read Heidegger's basic concepts such as “Dasein as Being-in-the-world,” since Dasein becomes the “Digi-sein as Being-in-the-World-Wide-Web.” By exploring the ontological characteristics of digital-being, this paper suggests that we conceive digital-beings as res digitalis – a third entity which is located somewhere between res cogitans and res extensa.

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