The Onlife Manifesto: Philosophical Backgrounds, Media Usages, and the Futures of Democracy and Equality [chapter]

Charles Ess
2014 The Onlife Manifesto  
I begin by discussing three challenges we take to define our Onlife context. I first show how these challenges have been prefigured and addressed in prior philosophical developments, including phenomenology, virtue ethics, Kantian ethics, and others. This discussion then introduces us to the primary features of and contrasts between: the more individual sense of rational-autonomous selfhood characteristic of high modern Western thought, and; more relational senses of selfhood in both historical
more » ... in both historical and contemporary contexts and theories (Bakardjieva 2005). These two notions of selfhood are further illuminated by considerations of embodiment and developments in contemporary philosophy and Internet Studies. This brings us to the core point: the shift from more individual towards more relational selves in contemporary "Western" societies, as manifest first of all in our changing practices and theories of "privacy," risks a shift towards more hierarchical social structures and non-democratic polities-and thereby away from high modern democratic processes and norms, including equality and gender equality (Bakardjieva 2009) . I then examine how far democratic processes and norms can be nonetheless preserved Onlife, drawing on notions of hybrid selves, "partial privacy" and "contextual privacy" (Nissenbaum 2010) and "subactivism" (Bakardjieva 2009). By contrast, emerging Confucian democracies, as resting on strongly relational conceptions of selfhood, appear to directly threaten commitments to equality and gender equality. These theoretical and empirical findings highlight the urgency of our contemporary choices regarding media usages. Specifically, where writing and the skills of literacy-print (as the communication modality of high modernity, in contrast with the secondary orality of electric media in general and online communication in particular) are historically correlated with high modern notions of individual L. Floridi (ed.), The Onlife Manifesto,
doi:10.1007/978-3-319-04093-6_14 fatcat:xiga4425ifcoxcw22gc3tmkroy