are we as
citizens in the digital age? This question concerns what is being
or digital citizens, i.e., persons involved in all kinds of activities
utilizing the Internet, particularly social media, for private or
what does citizenship in this context mean? Who is addressed when we
this question? Is it the citizen of democratic states? The concept of
citizenship has changed throughout the ages but it seems to be
related to the physical world.
is the difference
between being a citizen
in the physical world and in the cyberworld? Cyberworld means “an
(electromagnetic) medium for the movement of digital beings
(bit-strings) in which we human beings participate and through which we
steer, either directly, or indirectly through automatically executable
code." (Eldred 2012) 
It is not
technical medium – and as
such it belongs also to the physical world – but as far as
we are related to it, it is a way of our
being-in-the-world, i.e., it is an existential phenomenon concerning who and not only what we are as human
brave new cyberworld includes phenomena such as social media,
cybersex, online gaming, Bitcoin finance, Ebay, Skyping etc. 
civilization emerges that needs a fresh intercultural dialogue that
be steered, as the word cyber
suggests, by old or new global
players, but allowing more information and communication freedom and
people to control themselves. Letting people think freely is at the
future intercultural information ethics that takes seriously the
coming from others in a heteronomic digital environment. How far can we
go beyond the institutional, legal and moral paradigms that steer our
physical world? It seems that we (who?) need a new kind of thinking for
future being-in-the-(digital)-world. 
question "Who are
we as citizens in the digital
age?" addresses the following issues: firstly, who are
we as citizens in the
cyberworld? Secondly, is the concept
of citizenship – which one? – translatable from the physical world to
cyberworld? Are we as
citizens of the cyberworld only concerned as far as we interact
digitally within it with other human
(and non-human?) agents? What is the relationship between citizenship
physical world and in the cyberworld? Thirdly,
what is the meaning of the concept of global citizenship or cosmopolitanism
before and after the
rise of the cyberworld?
The aim of
is to answer these
questions starting with a brief overview on Greek and Roman concepts of
cosmopolitanism. The second part is devoted to the concept of world
in Kant, as an example of a modern concept of citizenship that still
our thinking and political reality particularly in Western countries.
part deals with the global citizenship in the digital age. 
Greek and Roman Concepts of Cosmopolitanism
cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope (c. 404-323 BC),
once asked where
he came from, answered: "[I am] a citizen of the world (kosmopolitês)" (Diogenes, 1853,
Section 6 para. 33). He was
apparently the first Western philosopher
have understood himself using this neologism. Although nothing from his
writing remained, Diogenes is well known for challenging established
behavioral codes with his teaching and his lifestyle. He was the son of
a money-changer and, as Diogenes Laertius reports, he was banished with
his father for seemingly adulterating public money. He probably
misunderstood the oracle of Delos who told him that he might change the
political customs (politikón
nómisma). The word nomisma
also means coin. As custom since the time of Cleisthenes
(ca. 570 BC), one's identity was based
on the place in which one was
Romans called jus soli
this notion of citizenship, in contrast to jus sanguinis or right of blood,
based on the family or tribeone one belonged to. Diogenes breaks with
Cleisthenes' concept of citizenship and creates a new term whereby the
concept of city (pólis) is related to the universe (kósmos). The kósmos is the true original pólis as the birthplace of
everybody. The laws (nomos)
and customs (ethos) of the pólis are secondary with
regard to the laws of the kósmos.
This does not necessarily mean that he is advocating for some
kind of world polis-state. It would be, at least, the opposite of his
lifestyle. He understands himself as
a cosmic being instead of
being subject to a political
denies the primacy of Athens and Athenians as opposed to citizens
coming from a
provincial town like Sinope. His answer is also a challenge to the
between Greek and barbarians as all humans are citizens of the kósmos, i.e., of the shared world.
Diogenes might have learned about the primacy of kósmos
over polis from
Antiphon the Athenian (c. 480-411 BC)
We can examine
those attributes of nature that are necessary in all humans and are
all to the same degree, and in these respects none of us is
barbarian or Greek. For we all breathe the air through our mouth and
nostrils, and we laugh when our minds are happy (A3) or weep when we
pained, and we receive sounds with our hearing, and we see by the light
our sight, and we work with our hands and walk with our feet. [Gagarin
2002, p. 183, see also Capurro 2007, p. 35ff]
concept of cosmic citizenship was further developed by the Stoic
Thinkers like Cleanthes (ca. 330-2030 BC)
and Chrysippus (279-206 BC)
grounded cosmopolitanism in the rational cosmology and ontology of
thought. As Brown (2006) remarks:
to the Stoics, the cosmos as a
whole is put in order by right reason, and it is a place where human
live. So the cosmos as a whole does satisfy the definition of 'polis'.
the Stoic doctrine of the cosmopolis. Because it rests on normative
far outstrip what ordinary practice manages to satisfy, one might well
the Stoic who strives to live as a citizen of the cosmopolis would have
away from ordinary politics. On this assumption, "living as a citizen
the cosmos" would be nothing more than a metaphor for living in
with the right reason that pervades nature—just a metaphor for living a
human life as Stoicism understands it. […] On my account, Chrysippus
consistently believes that to live as a citizen of the cosmos, one
engage in ordinary politics (where one can). Indeed, I suggest that by
conceiving of how a citizen of the world can engage in ordinary
Chrysippus effectively invents the ideal of cosmopolitan politics. […]
offers the chance to lead by example (or advise those who do) and to
that condition behaviour, and because it has these powers, it is
preferable to engage in politics.” [pp. 2-3, 10] 
difference between this kind of cosmopolitanism and the one proclaimed
Diogenes consists, according to Brown, in the fact that
fancied himself "citiless, homeless, deprived of a fatherland," and
it is not easy to see where his commitment to world-citizenship goes
this rejection of more local citizenship. Diogenes does purport to help
wherever he goes, but his cosmopolitanism resembles nothing so much as
worldliness of a nomad. [pp. 17-18] 
(2nd century) conceived citizenship as three concentric
around the self and the family, then the city dwellers and finally
humanity. The sense of togetherness
within such circles was called oikeiosis, oikos
meaning house or home.  Oikeiosis
means, for a Stoic
philosopher, the process of coming to a life “according to nature”
naturam vivere”),  nature
being our original house and therefore the measure of the customs of
the polis. 
Kleingeld and Brown (2013) write::
Nowhere was Stoic
cosmopolitanism itself more influential than in early Christianity. Early Christians took the
recognition of two cities as independent sources of obligation and
twist. For the Stoics, the citizens of the polis and the citizens of
cosmopolis do the same work: both aim to improve the lives of the
Christians respond to a different call: “Render therefore unto Caesar
things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's”
this view, the local city may have divine authority (John 19:11;
cf. Romans 13:1,4,7), but the most important work for human
is removed from traditional politics, set aside in a sphere in which
all nations can become “fellow-citizens with the saints”
(Ephesians 2:20) [para. 12].
messages of the Cynic and Stoic schools were transformed
within the Christian context, contradicting in some
cases the original ideas. In a locus
classicus St. Paul claims to be a Roman citizen (“civis romanus sum”),
having the Roman citizenship by the very fact of being born within the
Empire (“ius soli”):
As they stretched
him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it
for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. “What
going to do?” he asked. “This man is a Roman citizen.” The commander
Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen (Romaios
ei)?” “Yes, I am,” he answered. Then the commander said, “I
had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship (politeian).”
“But I was born a citizen (gegénnemai),” Paul
replied. Those who were about to interrogate him
withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he
he had put Paul, a Roman citizen, in chains.” [New Testament 22, 24-29,
New International Version] 
concept of citizen of the world is a core concept of the
Enlighentenment.  The
ancient concept of kosmopolites
has a resonance
particularly in Kant's concept of "world citizenship"
Kantian World Citizenship
develops the ideas on this matter in the opusculum "Perpetual Peace: A
Philosophical Sketch" ("Zum ewigen Frieden: Ein philosophischer
Entwurf"). According to
Kant (n.d.b), perpetual peace can only be
achieved if the following "articles" are realized: firstly, if the
civil constitution of all states is a republican one; secondly, if the
"law of nations" (Section 2 para. 7) is founded on a federation of free
states; and thirdly, if "the law of world citizenship" is "limited to
conditions of universal hospitality" (Section 2 para. 15). Kant is
aware that the situation in his time is far away from this goal. He
But to this
perfection compare the inhospitable actions of
the civilized and especially of the commercial states of our part of
The injustice which they show to lands and peoples they visit (which is
equivalent to conquering them) is carried by them to terrifying
lengths.[Kant, n.d.b., Section 2, para. 17]
not, however, hinder him in looking for a practical legal solution,
the narrower or wider community of the
peoples of the earth has developed so far that a violation of rights in
place is felt throughout the world,
the idea of a law of world citizenship (“Weltbürgerrechts”) is no
exaggerated notion. It is a supplement
the unwritten code of the civil and international law, indispensable
maintenance of the public human rights and hence also of perpetual peace.
cannot flatter oneself into believing one can
approach this peace except under the condition outlined here.
[Kant, n.d.b., Section 2 para. 29]
argues in favour
of a federation of free nations (“Föderalism freier Staaten”) that
the differences between people and states, and therefore does not aim
homogenize their cultural differences in one people’s state
in a federation of states and their people (“Völkerbund”) (Kant,
175c). In other
acknowledges their sovereignty and brings them at the same time
the “idea of federalism” (“Idee der Föderalität”) that
includes a “peace
league” and a “peace treaty" (Kant, 1975c). Why
states be interested in creating or joining such a league? Kant’s
astonishingly pragmatic. He writes:
nature wisely separates nations, which
the will of every state, sanctioned by the principles of international
would gladly unite by artifice or force, nations which could not have
themselves against violence and war by means of the law of world
unite because of mutual interest. The spirit of commerce, which is
incompatible with war, sooner or later gains the upper hand in every
the power of money is perhaps the most dependable of all the powers
included under the state power, states see themselves forced, without
urge, to promote honorable peace and by mediation to prevent war
threatens to break out. They
do so exactly as if they stood in perpetual alliances, for great
alliances are in the nature of the case rare and even less often
successful [Kant, n.d.a., para.12]
There is, then,
according to Kant, a close relationship between “the law of world
(“Weltbürgerrecht”), the “spirit of commerce” (“Handelsgeist”) and
“the power of
money” (“Geldmacht”). Kant’s cosmopolitan citizen is not subject to a
Leviathan with coercive military power and he is also not a subject
any legal or customary conditions. This way of being in the world as citizen is a legal, non-philanthropic
one. It is based on the right to “hospitality” (“Hospitalität”,
that he defines as follows:
means the right of a stranger not to be treated as an enemy when he
the land of another. One
may refuse to receive him when this can be done without causing his
destruction; but, so long as he peacefully occupies his place, one may
treat him with hostility. It
is not the right to be a permanent
visitor [“Gastrecht”] that one
may demand. A special
beneficent agreement would be needed
in order to give an outsider a right to become a fellow inhabitant for
length of time. It is
only a right of temporary sojourn [“Besuchsrecht”],
a right to associate,
which all men have. They have it by virtue of their common possession
surface of the earth, where, as a globe [“Kugelfläche”],
infinitely disperse and hence must finally tolerate the presence of
Originally, no one had more right than another to a particular part of
earth [Kant, n.d.b., Section 2 para 15]
Kant’s foundation of
the concept of world citizenship is literally global
in the sense that we, as humans, share the surface of the
globe (“Kugelfläche”) which is limited, thus building the material condition for a cosmopolitanism that echoes
Antiphon and the Stoics while keeping in mind simultaneously the modern
developments of republicanism and sovereign states. Kant’s world
neither an anarchist nor an idealist. Rather, they are subject to the
world citizenship,” without making “all men” in the same way a subject
of a coercive
power akin to the nation state to which they also belong. The “law of
citizenship” allow us, human beings, to go beyond national boundaries
becoming an expatriate or loosing any kind of international legal
short, Kant’s cosmopolitan subject is free to “visit” other nations
cultures and meet other people on the basis that we all share the same
earth upon which we exist. Kant provides, in
other words, an existential foundation
of the modern concept of nation-based world citizenship that allows him
enlarge the concept, and the range of freedom, beyond the boundaries of
nation-states without a kind of super-power that would not only become
for the sovereignty of other states, but would also undermine the
upon which equality and peaceful relations among people
as well as
among states rest, namely the common earth of which nobody can claim
The earth as a globe is our common
host and we are its guests. “The law of world
citizenship”, writes Kant, “should be limited
to conditions of universal hospitality” (Kant n.d.b., Section 2 para.
which means that it should be based on a mutual freedom of meeting each
as freely and legally acknowledged by a federation of states and not on
basis of the coercive law of a world Leviathan. 
citizen of the world is one who is allowed to live according to this
freedom and peace. This freedom and
peace remains fragile as it is based on a free agreement under the
presupposition that nations as well as individuals have a practical
promoting the “spirit of commerce”. It is also a pragmatic solution, as
not depend on the moral perfection of individuals. On the contrary, the
perfectibility might profit from universal hospitality. As Kant
societies are neither societies of angels nor of devils:
But it is the most
difficult to establish and even harder to preserve, so that many say a
would have to be a nation of angels, because men with their selfish
inclinations are not capable of a constitution of such sublime form. But precisely with these
nature comes to the aid of the general will established on reason,
revered even though impotent in practice. Thus it is only a question of
organization of the state (which does lie in man's power), whereby the
of each selfish inclination are so arranged in opposition that one
destroys the ruinous effect of the other. The consequence for reason
the same as if none of them existed, and man is forced to be a good
even if not a morally good person.
problem of organizing a state, however hard it may seem, can be solved
a race of devils, if only they are intelligent. The problem is: 'Given
multitude of rational beings requiring universal laws for their
but each of whom is secretly inclined to exempt himself from them, to
a constitution. [Kant, n.d.a. para.7-8].
Kant also introduced
the concept of 'cosmopolitan law', suggesting a third sphere of public
law – in
addition to constitutional law and international law – in which both
individuals have rights, and where individuals have these rights as
of the earth' rather than as citizens of particular states [Section 1.2
of "cosmopolitan law" is based on the fact that we all share the same
spherical earth.  Beyond
the forms of political, economic and moral cosmopolitanism analysed by
Kleingeld and Brown, I would like to add to this taxonomy two other
namely communicational and metaphysical cosmopolitanism. I follow also
issue Kant’s paths of thinking.
to Kant we can understand ourselves as
free individuals only if we are permitted to freely communicate our
others and vice versa. He develops this idea in “An Answer to the
What is Enlightenment?" 
("Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist
Aufklärung?") as well as in "What Does It Mean to Orient Oneself
in Thinking?" ("Was heisst: Sich im Denken orientieren?"). 
first of these opuscula Kant
distinguishes the public form from the private use of reason in
an at first sight counterintuitive use of the word "private." He writes:
restrictions on freedom. But what sort of restriction hinders
and what sort does not hinder
but instead promotes it? – I reply: The public use of one’s reason must
be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among human beings;
the private use of one’s reason may,
however, often be very narrowly restricted without this particularly
the progress of enlightenment. But
by the public use of one’s own reason I understand that use which
of it as a scholar before the entire
public of the world of readers. [“vor
dem ganzen Publikum der Leserwelt”].
What I call the private use of reason is that which one may make of it
certain civil post or office with which he is entrusted [Kant 1996,
of reason” (“Privatgebrauch”) concerns the restricted use of reason
act as subjects to some “civil post
or office”. The same persons can and should make a “public use”
Gebrauch”) of their reason (“Vernunft”) when addressing their thoughts as a scholar (“Gelehrter”) to the “world
of readers” (“Leserwelt”). Kant
duality between thinking and acting as
a citizen (“Bürger”) vs. thinking and acting, i.e. communicating, as a scholar. Kant favours even a
“lesser degree” of “civil freedom” (“bürgerliche Freiheit”) if a “people’s freedom of spirit” (“Freiheit
des Volkes”) is preserved. His argument is that “the propensity and
calling to think freely” (“den Hang und Beruf zum freien Denken”) might empower people
and, in the long run also the
government, to act more freely. (Kant, 1966) In
Kant’s global citizenship goes beyond the laws and customs of the
respecting but also questioning its boundaries. The instrument to
the utopian goal of an enlightened society is the society built by free
thinkers, the so-called “Republic of Letters” (“Gelehrtenrepublik”),
intellectual community beyond and across national boundaries,
through censorship-free and critical writings (“Schriften”) addressed
“world of readers.”He
the idea of a “permanent religious constitution not to be doubted
anyone and thereby, as it were, to nullify a period of time in the
humanity toward improvement
it fruitless and hence detrimental to posterity.” (Kant, 1966, para 6)
In other words, Kant’s
citizenship is not a fact but a process, no less than the question
“whether we at present live in an enlightened
age” whose answer is “No, but we do live in an age
of enlightenment." (Kant, 1966, para. 7)
the second opusculum, "What
Does It mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?" (Kant, 1975b), Kant
mentions (again) the
for being a free citizen participating at the “Republic of Letters”
“freedom of thinking” which implies the “freedom to communicate”
thoughts” (“die Freiheit, seine Gedanken öffentlich mitzuteilen”).
not freedom of thinking without freedom of the media through which
exchanged. According to Kant, such freedom is opposed, firstly, to the
compulsion” (“bürgerliche Zwang”) coming from a political
to the “moral compulsion” (“Gewissenszwang”) coming from a religious
and, thirdly to any kind of laws, excepting the ones reason gives itself.
I call this second Kantian concept of citizenship, communicational
I would like
to briefly mention what I call metaphysical
citizenship. According to Kant, humans are of dual nature, namely
natural (homo phaenomenon) and "noumenal" beings
(homo noumenon). The latter is for
Kant the source of morality. As noumenal or “intellectual beings”
Wesen”) (Kant, 1977) we are members of the “kingdom of ends” (“Reich
der Zwecke”). The members of
such a “kingdom” have a “dignity” (“Würde”) and not, as all other
“price” (“Preis”). “Dignity” means being an “end it itself” and obeying
one’s own laws, i.e. being autonomous.
community consists of members who have a
“duty” (“Pflicht”) with regard to such laws following the moral maxim
universalizability. The community has also a “head” (“Oberhaupt”) who
subject to “duty” and remains completely independent (Kant, 1974). 
I call this Kantian concept of intellectual beings belonging together
“kingdom of ends” metaphysical
citizenship. This dual view of human nature echoes, in the context
Kant’s critical philosophy, Augustine’s difference between the “city of
(“civitas dei”) and the “earthly city” (“civitas terrena”).
Citizenship in the
criticized Kant’s dual system of world citizenship vs. nation states
perspective of two hundred years (Habermas, 1995). With
regards to communicational citizenship, Kant, according to Habermas,
foresee the “structural change” of a transparent public sphere of
educated, rational, bourgeois citizens (“bürgerliche
Öffentlichkeit”) into a
public sphere “dominated by semantically degenerated, full of images
virtual realities of electronic mass media."  If
Kant could not
foresee mass media, Habermas was not able to see the impact
of the Internet and the structural change of the public sphere that was
happening as he wrote this essay.
According to Habermas, Kant could
also not foresee that the two other
conditions that he discusses as necessary for perpetual freedom, namely
republican form of government and the “spirit of commerce,” would
into nationalisms and war among democratic states and that free trade
lead to imperialisms of different kinds, global capitalist exploitation
civil wars. But Kant, however, was well
aware of issues of his time that are
not very dissimilar to the present situation, two hundred years later.
following text is worth quoting in full length::
But to this
perfection compare the inhospitable
actions of the civilized and especially of the commercial states of our
the world. The injustice which they show to lands and peoples they
is equivalent to conquering them) is carried by them to terrifying
America, the lands inhabited by the Negro, the Spice Islands, the Cape,
were at the time of their discovery considered by these civilized
lands without owners, for they counted the inhabitants as nothing. In
India (Hindustan), under the pretense of establishing economic
they brought in foreign soldiers and used them to oppress the natives,
widespread wars among the various states, spread famine, rebellion,
and the whole litany of evils which afflict mankind.
Japan (Nippon), who have had experience with such
wisely refused them entry, the former permitting their approach to
but not their entry, while the latter permit this approach to only one
people, the Dutch, but treat them like prisoners, not allowing them any
communication with the inhabitants. The worst of this (or, to speak
moralist, the best) is that all these outrages profit them nothing,
these commercial ventures stand on the verge of collapse, and the Sugar
Islands, that place of the most refined and cruel slavery, produces no
revenue except indirectly, only serving a not very praiseworthy purpose
furnishing sailors for war fleets and thus for the conduct of war in
This service is rendered to powers which make a great show of their
while they drink injustice like water, they regard themselves as the
point of orthodoxy.
the narrower or wider community of the peoples of the earth has
far that a violation of rights in one place is felt throughout the
idea of a law of world citizenship is no high-flown or exaggerated
is a supplement to the unwritten code of the civil and international
indispensable for the maintenance of the public human rights and hence
perpetual peace. One cannot flatter oneself into believing one can
this peace except under the condition outlined here [Kant, n.d.b.,
Section 2, para. 17-19]
Lévinas and Jacques Derrida have developed an ethics of
hospitality thata echoes in some regard the Cynic, Stoic, Christian and
Kantian traditions of cosmopoliticsm (Wikipedia, 2013b).  These
traditions culminate in the 20th century with the
creation of the
United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
law, and corresponding institutions. Governmental, inter-governmental
non-governmental organizations and initiatives look for different kinds
answers to global challenges such as the ecological crisis, the
the crisis of capitalism, world hunger, poverty and diseases together
devastating experiences of two world wars and the crimes against
before, during and after these, and the following present wars.
makes a difference to Kant’s cosmopolitanism is not only, as Habermas
the rise of mass media but particularly the rise of the Internet. Peter
Sloterdijk (1998) has pointed to three global or spherical projects in
history, starting with the globalization of reason in Greek philosophy
culminates in Hegel’s spherical metaphysics. According to Sloterdijk,
modernity brings about a second global project, bursting the
dreams. It is a physical project aiming at discovering and dominating
starting with its circumnavigation. The third globalization project is
present digital one with predecessors in the Middle Ages (Raimundus
Nicholas of Cusa) and Modernity (Pascal, Leibniz). 
In a recent article, Rod Beckstrom, Chief Security Adviser for Samsung
USA and Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on
of the Internet writes:
The hard part of
the connectivity explosion is not building capacity, but how it should
profound questions about the way we live. Should everyone be
connected to everything? Who owns which data, and how should
made public? Can and should data use be regulated, and, if so, how? And
role should government, business, and ordinary Internet users play in
addressing these issues? At the same time, we must guard against
over-regulation or government control. This might require us to phase
Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to prevent it from falling under
control of an inter-governmental body, as some states have demanded.
Governments certainly have an important part to play. But too much
would almost certainly stifle innovation, increase costs, and probably
important anti-establishment voices. A better approach, and one that
enhance public trust in the system, would be to establish diversified
stewardship with multiple stakeholders. [Beckstrom, 2013, para. 2]
about “the rights of the digital man” means asking about the nature of
cosmopolitanism. It concerns issues of international control and
the Internet by private corporations such as the Internet Corporation
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Above all, it is a question of
responsibility on the basis of rules of fair play and solidarity.
At the heart of
this debate is the need to ensure that in a world where many, if not
the important details of our lives – including our relationships –
cyber-perpetuity, people retain, or reclaim, some level of control over
online selves. While the world
of forgetting may have vanished, we can reshape the new one in a way
benefits rather than overwhelms us. Our overriding task is to
construct a digital
way of life that reinforces our existing sense of ethics and values,
security, trust, and fairness at its heart [para. 13].
processes in the Internet go across the boundaries of nation-states and
international groups of states that remain the basis of the modern
idea of citizenship. It is apparent that the cyberworld is not a kind
independent world as proclaimed by John Perry Barlow in 1996 .
The rights and duties in the
cyberworld cannot be isolated from the rights and duties in the
The cyberworld makes the processes of cultural hybridization and social
interaction no less than that of mutual isolation (Turkle, 2011). The
case of the National Security Agency provides the evidence surrounding
global digital citizenship's transformation into global surveillance,
paradoxical premise that at the moment where all digital citizens
considered as equal with regards to rights and duties, they are
between U.S. citizens, that according to U.S. law should not be object
digital surveillance, unlike the rest of the world, paying no regards
laws in other countries. From this
perspective, the concept of digital global citizenship turns into the
of the ideals of the Enlightenment. The danger of homogenizing the
population does not only consist in its control and manipulation but
the exclusion of different groups and, more generally, on the
disrespect of cultural
differences, individual histories and contingencies that are the basis
uniqueness and richness of human individuals and societies (Dabag,
2000). The opposite dystopia to such a homogenization is the
economic or cultural isolation of individuals and societies, as well as
disregard of any kind of responsibility for the common welfare and
sustainability of the physical and digital world.
is the reason why we, in the digital age, need a transcultural ethos
democratic components that actively promotes intercultural experience,
international treaty for the cyberworld on which, following Kant’s
the different stakeholders freely agree. They, the ethos and the
to be flexible with regard to unforeseen developments and situations,
therefore require sustainable academic research on intercultural
ethics devoted particularly to the analysis of cultural differences
underlie implicitly or explicitly the customs and behavioural rules in
physical and in the digital world. 
an ethos and treaty (or declaration) aims at protecting the freedom of
exchange of thoughts freely – a new version of Kant’s “Republic of
a communicational world citizenship in the digital age. Public policy
provide the opportunity for citizens to meet freely in digital public
without the constraints and misuses of the commercial social networks
theory and practice, become more and more dystopian examples of free
citizenship. The same can be said with regard to the reality of
surveillance in the digital and physical world in Western democracies,
to what Kant suggested. If public policy and the civil society
leave the field of free communicational citizenship to be shaped alone by market economy, then the
concept of citizenship in the digital age might become, and is
dystopian with opportunities opened by the Internet being partly lost.
Individuals and societies in the cyberworld should be legally protected
paternalistically over-protected, or even subject to total control
kind of legal agreement on the necessity and limits of such measures.
can be said with regards to commercial global players in the
they take no notice of the rights of individuals as they conceal and
what they want to whom they want. A commercial social network turns
(golden) cage or, in the case that users and shareholders become aware
it ends in bankruptcy.
is no less fragile than being-in-the-world, sharing a common earth and
responsible for each other. What is at stake with regard to the issue
privacy in the digital age is no more and no less than the question of
at a local and global level (Capurro et al., 2013). Following
Aristotle’s dictum “being said in
many ways,"  the
concept of citizenship in general and of global and digital citizenship
particular is no less ambiguous. Cosmopolitanism as
world citizenship has been a “combat term” (“Kampfbegriff”) for
different schools of thought (Zons, 2000), with
ambivalent connotations until today. The reason for this ambivalence
the tension between the historical situation and physical embodiment of
existence on the one hand, and its openness to the common world sharing
common earth on the other hand. This ambivalence emerges in the
new forms of polarization between new authentic forms of being-together
and beyond, physical boundaries and their customary, legal fixations
inauthentic ones where human freedom almost disappears, being
for political or economic interests. The result is not always some kind
fragile freedom in the cyberworld but different kinds of cyber warfare.
analogical use of the concept of citizenship based on its modern use in
physical world translated into the cyberworld might lead to some new
digital Enlightenment, but it might also create a homogenized world
world Leviathan that can take the shape of a league of nations freely
on rules of fair play and mutual support in order to overcome what has
called the digital divide, but it can also support the creation of all
monopolies on the basis of norms and regulations in order to increase
profit of a company with disregard for the privacy of users as well as
common good of society.
like Edward Snowden, being confronted with the blatant contradictions
democracies that are proud of their liberal and civic traditions no
of their defence of human rights, feel themselves under the ethical
of unveiling such contradictions. Such individuals are an authentic
digital citizenship. They do not necessarily proclaim a utopian world
the basis of digital transparency of all citizens under its power but,
the contrary, they are well aware that the basic democratic rule in the
physical world and the cyberworld must be one that respects the
between public and private, which is the freedom of individuals to
they want to conceal and reveal about who they are (Capurro et al.,
2013). The disrespect of this civic freedom leads toward different
totalitarian situations and forms of economic and cultural exploitation
are not dissimilar to the ones described by Kant in the 18th
debate on global and local interests permeates not only European
the history of ideas in the last three hundred years but also the
debate on the current and future shape of the cyberworld. What shall we
want to consider as a common rule for everybody in the cyberworld, as
in the relationship between the cyberworld and the physical world? Who
dealing or should deal with these issues at a theoretical and practical
Which forms of mediations should we (who?) establish? Such questions
originally technical but philosophical and particularly ethical. They
the transformation of the relationship between human beings and the
the digital age. I call this transformation digital ontology.
are we when we look at ourselves (and our selves) as well as all things
the world as digitalizable? If this understanding of being turns to be
perceived as the true one, digital ontology turns into digital
in political terms, into digital ideology (Capurro et al, 1999).
forms of togetherness and commonness degenerate into technological
a global monoculture with digitalized citizens. The tension between the
physical and the digital world is lost and with it also the interplay
freedom concerning different forms of concealing and revealing who we
both worlds. We (who?) come even to the idea of identifying ourselves
selves) with our data that are, as any other form of reification, a
economic exchange. In this case, digital economy, having lost its
human freedom and the social interplay in a common physical and digital
mutates into a world panopticon.
diagnosis is correct, we, as
thinkers, should make a leap back into the history of the concept of
citizenship and how we came to ask ourselves about it in the digital
should also think prospectively about who are the beneficiaries and who
excluded from it. Who is misusing or exploiting individuals and whole
in the cyberworld is no less problematic than in the physical world. If
Leviathan misuses its power ad intra
and/or ad extra, and some tough whistle-blowers
unveil such contradictions, what kind of international mechanisms
created in order to deal with these issues, in order to avoid the
cynicism? Not only political diplomacy but all kinds of bottom-up
of the civil society, like the Centre
for Global Citizenship Education
Research at the University of Alberta, 
have an opportunity to be
effective and efficient, particularly in the field of
education, when based on a
common ethos of civility in the
cyberworld, as well as on
international legal agreements. Both
must be aware of the fragility of human freedom and of the common earth
ground for both, the physical and the cyberworld. This is the reason
question of digital ecology is crucial in order to create a sustainable
physical environment for the cyberworld, in order to become aware of
of social exploitation on a local and global scale around the issue of
electronic waste (Capurro, 2010).
digital citizens might follow Diogenes, others will prefer Chrysippus;
provide fresh insights into the task of keeping alive the tension
physical and the digital world. A
phenomenology of messages and messengers as
awareness of the hidden positive and negative dimensions of
opens paths of thinking for present and coming message
societies  where
global and local citizenships are intertwined
and the abyssal dimensions
of freedom and liberty do not become invisible under the digital veil. 
Eventually, we do
not live in two sepaate worlds. this distinction
could be misunderstood as a new kind of platonism. We live in one
common world shaped more and more by digital technology.
author would like to thank John and Michael Holgate (Sydney) for their
criticisms and fresh ideas. Some of them are quoted in this text.
See Wikipedia entries Netizen and
3. On the concept of whoness see Capurro et al.
(2012a) and Capurro et al. (2013)
4. See Rolfe (2005) and Coenen et al. (2012)
which we also
steer... what, whom? Maybe the 'cyber' concept of control and steering
inherited from the Macy Conferences, cybernetics and the top-down
dominance of Wiener, Shannon, von Neumann, von Foerster et al. needs to
thrown overboard at last. The new wave of digilectuals since the 1990’s
Internet is more about devolution of control back to the individual
than conforming to the cyber
agendas of Big Data whose ideological bastion is based on control,
and surveillance. Floridi’s infosphere
is just a different flavour of this panoptic agenda. Our digital
emergent and phenomenologically beyond “copulating bit strings”
Eldred] and ones and zeros – the digital/virtual way of
and should be heteronomic rather than hegemonic. What we need to do now
the spheres of this new world in all its variety of phenomena – social
hacktivism, cybersex, online gaming, Bitcoin finance, electronic
Ebay, Skyping etc – as if it were another, different civilisation –
approach it with a thorough phenomenologcal analysis. Kant (or Jesus or
Aristotle) can’t walk a mile in our cybershoes. It seems we can’t 'go
again' to the land of traditional ethics as the paradigms and
per Thomas Kuhn) have changed and are constantly changing. i.e.
netiquette is of
a different informational order/category to real world etiquette.
‘theft' is of a different order to the felony of pilfering material
Wikileaks activity is, from within the cyberworld, not stealing secrets
enabling access and devolving control – a positive social and communal
informational good." [M. Holgate, personal communication,
January 15, 2014]
19.“Yes 'earth' has become the focus rather
than 'cosmos' or 'galaxy' or 'universe' – linking cosmopolitanism with
(as the Stoics did) and world allows an environmental activism grounded
shared bios, psyche, nous and being.
We have access to social, cultural and spiritual affinities as well as
resources of ‘the planet’. Today the dummification of our mental world
much of a threat to civilisation as the pollution of our physical
earth.” (J. Holgate, personal communication, January 15, 2014).
20. I have used the English
translation by Mary J. Gregor (Kant, 1996). For the German text
see Kant 1975a, 9.
21. For the German Text see Kant 1975b, 5.
22. “This opens up the
role of reading (as individuation) and the
psyche, privacy and individualism which is the Renaissance legacy.
epistemology adopts scanning and browsing and non-linear apprehension
modus operandi rather than the traditional communion with print books
– once the mark of the cosmopolitan scholar. Is computer and
literacy now a prerequisite for digital cosmopolitanism? Are desktop
multitasking and parallel processing required skills of the Digital
Man? The World of Readers has become what? A list of subscribers to
Google Books? And the digital divide is not just between people but is
within our own brain hemispheres as we switch between print and online
'reading' experience.” (J.
Holgate, personal communication, January 15, 2014).
I would like to
add that the role of writing and
writing experience change no less dramatically in the cyberworld. See
23. "Your descriptin of universal hospitality and cosmopolitan
law/citizenship is very similar to he sole impetus of the TOR project:
The ability to write without fear of repression, the invention of a
space uncensorable to any state" (J. Holgate, personal communication,
January 15, 2014). See https://www.torproject.org/
24. For the relation
among "intellectual beings" Kant uses different words such as
"systematische Verbindung,", "Verknüpfung," "Beziehung" as well as
"Glied" (member, link). the word "kingdom of ends" ("Reich der Zwecke")
is built in parallel to the "kingdom of nature" ("Reich der Natur").
25. Habermas, 1995, p. 11 (my translation).
26. See Capurro (2003).
27. The Good Samaritan parable
cosmopolitanism. The opposing forces of national sovereignty, nimbyism,
and greed (particularly in Australia towards foreigners arriving by
to control the agenda. Is the digital world of cyberspace and social
intrinsically any more 'sharing caring' or hospitable than the 'real
its emphasis on networking connectivity and sharing of resources (Open
EFF, Linux etc.)? Or are its denizens lost in solipsistic code-cutting,
gaming, Ipod music, cybersex and Facebook selfies like the Eloi, the
hippies of Wells' Time Machine who prove powerless and unable to be
to or protect the Internet Traveller? Meanwhile
Morlocks control the global economy (J. Holgate, personal
communication, January 15, 2014).
28. See also Capurro (2007).
29. See Capurro (2007, 2008a), Capurro et al. (2012a and 2013) and
Hongladarom & Ess (2007).
30. Aristotle, Met. VII, 1028a ("to on legetai pollachos").
31. See Capuro (2006, 2008b) and Capurro et al. (2012a and 2013).
32. See http://www.cgcer.ualberta.ca/. See also Gasser and
33. For Shultz (2013) the concept of global citizenship is a code for
thinking decolonizing educational relationships. See UNESCO 2013 and
Grossmann (2013) and the Centre for Governance and Citizenship. The Hong Kong
Institute for Education. See also the concepts of smart cities and
smart citizens (Rack 2013).
34. Capurro & Holgate (2011): "Yes but third-order phenomenology
emphasising experiencing and communicating angeletically beyong
hermeneutic interpretation. We must throw ourselves into the 'Abrund
der Digitalität' [abyss of digitality] and experience its forms of
'be-ing' in that world. WE have to walk (and sometimes run) along the
paths of thinking to discover the open spaces" (J. Holgate, personal
communication, January 15, 2014).
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