book has a short and a long history. The short history goes back to
2009 when my
colleague, Michael Nagenborg, organized a symposium “Von Boten und
(“On Messengers and Messages”) at the Karlsruhe Center for Art and
on the occasion of my retirement (STI-IE 2009). I warmly thank him and
for this symposium. The long history is rooted in my PhD on the concept
information (Capurro 1978). I was intrigued by the question regarding
adequate term in ancient Greek for what we call information in its
meaning of (new) knowledge communicated. The information concept itself
more precisely, the word ‘information’ has Latin roots (informatio) that take
us to forma and its Greek
ancestors, namely idea, eidos and morphe that
played a key role in Greek philosophy. Their echo can be followed for
in the Latin tradition as well as in the modern and present-day use of
lecture “Language as Information” by the physicist and philosopher Carl
Friedrich von Weizsäcker, gave me a crucial hint for exploring
etymological and conceptual history (Weizsäcker 1974, 51). I could
not find any
special word in the Greek tradition of idea, eidos and morphe that would match
‘information,’ but I discovered that the concept of message (Greek angelia)
addressed the phenomenon of ‘communicating something (new) to
somebody.’ I did
not follow further this path within (and beyond) the research project
time, but I added a short note on angelia,
its importance within the
Christian theological context and its origin in Semitic as well as
languages, where the root bsr means
announcing something new and good. It
belongs to the language of politics, sports, and religion (Capurro
46-49). The debate on
Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the early 1980s prodded me to explore
analogy between hardware / software and the body / soul dichotomy that
than the well-known Cartesian dichotomy between res cogitans and res extensa.
It goes back to speculations on ‘separate intelligences’ (intelligentiae
separatae) in medieval philosophical thought, particularly in
Arabic, as well
as in most religious traditions where divine messengers are called
(Capurro 1995, 78-96) However, in fact, angelos (messenger) was an
word in ancient Greek. It played a key role in poetry (Pindar) and
tragedy. I was surprised to discover the absence of this concept as a
philosophic term in Plato’s dialogues and found the reason for it in
rejection of the role of poets as messengers of the gods for instance
dialogue, Ion. I understand this
rejection as the birthplace of philosophy in the sense of a horizontal
where logoi are exchanged,
and not divine or vertical messages merely
received. In other words, the angeletic paradigm was replaced by the
‘dialectical’ one (Capurro 1995, 99 and Capurro 2003, 112-115). But
what was in
fact replaced was the vertical, ‘top-down’ paradigm, since the
dialogue is based on a horizontal exchange of messages with the
of giving reasons (logon didonai)
for what seems to be the case.
this perspective it became clear to me that Hans-Georg Gadamer’s
as a theory aimed at understanding what is being communicated
angeletics. Gadamer was aware of Hermes being a messenger and not only
but he developed a hermeneutics, not an angeletics (Gadamer 1974, 1061;
2003). This is astounding, since Gadamer’s hermeneutics is rooted in
phenomenological thinking. The late Heidegger questioned his own
thinking and proposed a phenomenology of the relationship between
messenger (Heidegger 1975, 150). Heidegger’s thinking can be conceived
giving primacy to what “calls us to thinking,” to quote the title of
lecture course (Heidegger 1971), instead of to the modern foundation:
thinking subject. As Jean-Luc Nancy rightly stresses – following
well as Benjamin’s idea of translation and Wittgenstein’s concept of
sign – the
first task of philosophy is the transmission of a message
by a messenger prior to any interpretation
taking place. Philosophy forgot the messenger (Nancy 2001, 94-95).
the mid-1990s I started using the term, angeletics (German
‘Angeletik’), that I
also called the “postal paradigm” (Capurro 2003, 108; Capurro 2003a,
the name for a theory of messages and messengers (Capurro 1999). In the
ten years this theory, disseminated in short messages accessible at my
website, drew attention
in the academic community (Sloterdijk 1998, 480; Krämer 2008,
112-113). It was the friendship and shared passion with John Holgate
that helped me to
think about the possibility of editing this book with him. I would not
been possible without his strong support, no less than the support of
and colleagues whom we invited to contribute. I thank Michael
Eldred for his engagement in reviewing several contributions to this
for giving me key insights into a phenomenology of communication.
and other Japanese colleagues helped me to better understand Western
experience particularly with regard to the Christian missionaries in
Japan (Capurro 2002)
in a way similar to how I tried to understand this phenomenon during
Spanish conquista of Latin
America (Capurro 2003). I is evident to me that
philosophical angeletics finds its complement in an empirical science
messengers and messages. Last, but not least, I would like to thank
Deutschland that early on, when this book was still germinating, gave
generous financial support to publish
these messages in a single volume.
captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli” (“Little books have their
to their readers’ intellectual capabilities”). This famous quote from
Terentianus Maurus (2nd century AD) can be understood in the
that books, particularly little ones like essays, pamphlets, or
their own lives, independently of their authors: “habent sua fata
this quote usually reads. The context of the quote (Beck 1993, 122)
makes it clear,
however, that a message’s destiny, i.e., its receiver's understanding
pragmatic impact, depends on its receivers’ pre-understanding. Perhaps
"leisurely and impatient" ("deses et impatiens") readers would believe
they have retrieved "obscure" ("obscura") or little knowledge from a
long message ("pauca reperta putet"), while others think they have
discovered much more on their own. Terentianus believes that this will
not be the case with his own readers, to whom he attributes love and
(“amor et prudentia”) as well as "tireless work" work (“labor in
studiis semper celebratus inhaeret”). I can find no better words to
express what this collection of messages
aims at and to thank readers in anticipation for messages to come.
Karlsruhe, June 2011
Jan-Wilhelm: Terentianus Maurus. De syllabis. Göttingen 1993.
Rafael (2003). Theorie der Botschaft.
In ibid.: Ethik im Netz. Stuttgart, pp 105-122. Also published in Erich
Hamberger, Kurt Luger (eds.): Transdisziplinäre Kommunikation.
Vienna 2008, 65-89. http://www.capurro.de/botschaft.htm
Rafael (2003a). Angeletics
– A Message Theory. In Hans H. Diebner, Lehan Ramsay (eds.):
Communication. An inter-institutional and international symposium on
communication on different scales and levels. Karlsruhe, 58-71.
Rafael (2002). Die Lehre Japans.
Theorie und Praxis der Botschaft bei Franz Xaver [Japan’s
Lesson. Francis Xaver’s Theory
and Praxis of Message]. In R. Haub, J. Oswald (eds.): Franz Xaver –
Missionen. Festschrift zum 450 Todestag, Regensburg, pp. 103-121. http://www.capurro.de/xaver.html
Rafael (1995). Leben im
Rafael (1978). Information. Ein Beitrag
zur etymologischen und ideengeschichtlichen Begründung des
[Information. A contribution
to the foundation of the concept of information based on its
conceptual history]. Munich.
Rafael (1999). Ich bin ein Weltbürger
as Sinope. Vernetzung als Lebenskunst [I am a Cosmopolitan from Sinope.
as Art of Living] In P. Bittner, J.
Mensch - Informatisierung – Gesellschaft. Münster, 1-19.
(Corpus Grammaticorum Latinorum): Terentianus:
De littera, de syllaba, de pedibus, C. Cignolo (ed.) 2002: 93, Verse
Hans-Georg (1974). Art. Hermeneutik. In
Joachim Ritter et al. (eds.): Historisches Wörterbuch der
Martin (1975). Aus einem Gespräch von
der Sprache. Zwischen einem Japaner und einem Fragenden. In ibid.
zur Sprache. Pfullingen, pp. 83-155.
Martin (1971). Was heisst Denken?
Tübingen, 3rd ed.
Sybille (2008). Medium, Bote,
Übertragung. Kleine Metaphysik der Medialität. Frankfurt am
Jean-Luc (2001). Das Vergessen der
Philosophie. Vienna [Orig. L’Oubli
de la philosophie, Paris 1986].
Peter (1998): Sphären I. Frankfurt
Information Ethics) (2009). Symposium „Von Boten und Botschaften“ aus
Pensionierung von Rafael Capurro. Organized by Michael Nagenborg.
Sponsored by Karlsruhe Center
for Art and Media (ZKM) and The Club of Rome
European Support Centre (Vienna).
Carl Friedrich von (1974; Orig. 1959):
Sprache als Information [Language as Information]. In ibid. Die Einheit
Natur. Munich 1974, pp. 39-60.
August 21, 2017