Rethinking the Human Condition in a Hyperconnected Era: Why Freedom is Not About Sovereignty But About Beginnings [chapter]

Nicole Dewandre
2014 The Onlife Manifesto  
The Digital Transition as a Reality-Check for Plato's Utopia Failure Mary Midgley sees philosophy as plumbing, something that nobody notices until it goes wrong: 'Then suddenly we become aware of some bad smells, and we have to take up the floorboards and look at the concepts of even the most ordinary piece of thinking. The great philosophers ... noticed how badly things were going wrong, and made suggestions about how they could be dealt with.' (Midgley 2001) . The bad smells, as I perceive
more » ... m, concern the proliferation of truisms (including about progress, change and innovation), wrong alternatives ("either/or" framing when the "both/and" would be much more efficient), and fears and delusion when it comes to thinking and speaking about politics and the public space. It would be wrong to say that we are in totalitarian times: fascism and communism have been defeated and democracy is alive, at least in the EU and other parts of the world. However, I feel that we are unconsciously undermining essential elements of the human condition, as set out by Hannah Arendt in her seminal book The human condition (Arendt 1959) : the antidotes against the risk of totalitarianism are thereby weakened to a dangerous extent so that it would not take much more than a spark for the public space to collapse, and this even under the cover of the best governance intentions. The digital transition is an opportunity to "fix the pipes", as put by Mary Midgley: it brings about a reality by which some key assumptions underlying our worldview, since Plato, lose ground insofar as they simply stop being efficient. The digital transition projects us into a world where nature is pervasively intertwined with sensors, information devices and machines; we thus increasingly experience a reactive and talkative nature, an animated nature, where it becomes more and more difficult L. Floridi (ed.), The Onlife Manifesto,
doi:10.1007/978-3-319-04093-6_20 fatcat:fkjqwi6r6bagtavm3egldd7pdq