LANGUAGE, KNOWLEDGE, AND THE INFORMATION GE-STELL
technology is able to help us become more human if we make joint
its presuppositions in all their complexity. This historical reflection
in its philosophical dimensions is the task of hermeneutic
Let me now try to illuminate this topic, reflecting on the
of human logos.
to Heidegger, modern technology is two-sided: as a techne it
partakes of poesis and brings something forth into
at the same time it crystallizes into the instrumental structure of the
Ge-stell. (2) Instrumentality is good, provided it does
into a totalitarian or one-sided view. From this perspective, the
of information technology at the end of modernity is the creation of an
information Ge-stell. Whereas, on the one hand, we bring
mediated knowledge in a new shape, on the other, we transform language
a mere instrument.
even when this happens, as I have argued in the previous section, the
of interpretation is needed for the constitution of meaning. In fact,
as well as spoken logos never comes to an end, can never be
fixed once and for all. It conceals itself in its re-presentations.
subjectivity does not pay attention to this concealment while
the event of information, its weakness or dependence on interpretation,
into an information and/or knowledge establishment. In this way
it gives up its ethical responsibility, hoping to rest on a strong or
structure (Capurro, 1996).
the information Ge-stell is an opportunity for modernity to
in one of its characteristic formations the hidden dimension of
The information Ge-stell can become a voice within the
nature of human logos — if and only if it is interrelated to
whole range of its hidden potentialities. If it is not, then we will
no more than an information society. The key issue in today's knowledge
society is our relation to what we do not know in and through what we
we know. To do this in a digital environment is one of the major
of today's networked environment, where the partiality of knowledge is
the strength of a decentralized, non-totalitarian and opaque structure
we call the Internet. What we get is not a fully enlightened or
society, but an opaque one, where the perspectives are continuously
by chaos and creativity (Vattimo, 1989; Capurro, 1995).
Robert S. Cohen & Marx W. Wartofsky, 'Editorial Preface', in
& Huning, eds., 1986, pp. v-vi. Paraphrasing from p. vi.
Heidegger, 1967, 'Die Frage nach der Technik,' pp. 5-36.
3. The origin of this paper goes back to the International Conference
'Phenomenology and Technology' held at the Philosophy and Technology
Studies Center, Polytechnic University (New York), October 2-4, 1986,
which was organized ba Wolfgang Schirmacher and Carl Mitcham. After
thirteen years, obviously, things have changed an I have done some
further works, too. My book Hermeneutik der Fachinformation
was published in 1986, and since then I have written some articles on
this subject, as well as anaother book, Leben im Informationszeitalter
(1995). Some of these articles as well as a list of publications, can
be found in my homepage. The
present text is an enriched version of the original one. I have added
some later insights without changing basic ideas, which I still think
are valuable and can also be of help when reflecting, for instance,
about the nature of communicating and searching for information in the
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© 2000 Elsevier Science, UK, all rights reserved.
Update: May 26, 2017