Rafael Capurro


Thanks and Responses to the contributors of: Matthew Kelly & Jared Bielby, Editors: Information Cultures in the Digital Age. A Festschrift in Honor of Rafael Capurro. Wiesbaden: Springer 2016.


Thomas J. Froehlich


I don't remember exactly when we met for the first time, but I remember very well your kind invitation to give a talk at Kent State University in 1992 before the annual meeting of the American Society for Information Science that took place in Pittsburgh, October 25-29. We both participated at the Panel Session "Information Democracy: Power and Control Issues." I talked about "Information Technology and Technologies of the Self." The paper was published in 1996 in the Journal of Information Ethics. Information Ethics was emerging from Library and Information Science and Computer Science, as you describe in A brief history of information ethics.

My paths of thought in phenomenology, technology, and ethics and my professional experience in Germany were closely related to yours. We started an exciting personal and academic conversation. Thank you for your friendship and hospitality.



Matthew Kelly & Jared Bielby (Editors)


Reading your biography reviewing ideas and contingencies of my life (bios) is an exciting experience for me. When I came to Germany in the early seventies I tried to understand information technology and its application in LIS. Quick transformations induced me to cultivate self-criticism and to remain sceptical when revolutions were announced and soon left behind. I searched for a remedy of intellectual and practical nearsightedness looking into the history of ideas in order "to help reveal how we find ourselves cast in the digital world," as you rightly say.

The phenomenological challenge is to unveil the power structures in our own as well as in other information cultures with their implicit or explicit normative frameworks. A vast historical and critical work is needed in order to analyze texts and artefacts reflecting them and to become aware of possible intersections, exclusions, mutual ignorance, and creative adaptations between information cultures. If we read foundational texts of different traditions from this perspective, Intercultural Information Ethics will arise. The issue addressed in the title of this Festschrift is a mark for this future conversation.

I warmly thank you both for the huge amount of time and the effort you have invested encouraging contributors to present their ideas in this global seminar. These seeds will flourish at the right time in the right places.



I Culture and Philosophy of Information


Super-Science, Fundamental Dimension, Way of Being: Library and Information Science in an Age of Messages

David Bawden and Lyn Robinson


Thanks for your clear, concise, and comprehensive analysis of my thoughts on the nature of Information Science and its foundations. You both write: "There is a good deal to be said about the relation between information and entropy, complexity and similar physical concepts (Bawden & Robinson, 2015a, 2015b), but it is not yet evident that this is best expressed in terms of messages and messengers." You are right. What is missing in my analysis is no more and no less than the concept of time. Three-dimensional time plays a key role also in quantum mechanics as Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and others have shown.

With regard to "Capurro's Trilemma" you write: "There are, it seems, two kinds of gaps: those between the concepts; and those between scholars who think it worthwhile to try to bridge such gaps and those who do not." The "gaps between concepts" are in fact gaps between contexts. Aristotle is a master in presenting commonalities and differences between the use of concepts in different contexts. Take, for instance, his analysis of the concept of middle (meson, mesotes) in physics, logic, epistemology, and ethics.

With regard to the importance of the concept of document, "a central concern within LIS," you both write: "This might be seen as an endorsement of a focus on documents and documentation as a central concern within LIS, although Capurro does not seem to have made this link explicitly." This is not quite the case. I pointed to it in my PhD (Information, 1978, 230-239, 293) where I defined information as documented knowledge made available or "useful" – "ready-to-hand" or "zuhanden" in Heideggerian terms – within a network of institutions, media, instruments for classification and retrieval and the like. This definition is not only not in contradiction to Popperian World 3 but includes also Worlds 1 and 2. Popper's criticisms of "pure facts" and his insistence that any observation is "theory-laden" is not dissimilar to the hermeneutic concept of "pre-understanding."

Floridi's "Philosophy of Information" is pretty near to my early research on the Latin root informatio and the Greek concepts of eidos, idea, morphe and typos (See here). In the course of time I took a self-critical distance from it, becoming less metaphysical and more existential. Some clarity in these matters might come from a thorough analysis of what ontology means in different schools of thought and, as in my case, in Heideggerian phenomenology. An analysis of the question 'what is a document?' should reflect the epochal changes of this concept in such a way that the word 'is' in the definition should be always hermeneutically understood as an 'as.'

Having participated at the FIS/ISIS 2015 Vienna Summit Information Society at the Crossroads – Response and Responsibility of the Sciences of Information (See also here), I am more curious than ever on how Information Science—dealing with knowledge documentation, organization, transmission and use—will find its place within this interdisciplinary framework (one that appears to me more like a labyrinth than as having one sort of rationale based on a common language and related to the whole of reality). But you are right when you ask: "What is real and what does 'real' actually mean?" These are fundamental questions that need to be asked again and again because the meaning of being changes epochally, as in the case of Heideggerian interpretation of being (as three-dimensional time). Thinking of the nature of the real from this perspective means to be able to look at the changing essence of what appears within a field of possibilities and not the other way around as metaphysics tends to do.

LIS can embrace both traditions, the metaphysical and the phenomenological, as it has to do with the reification of human knowledge as well as with its use. The user perspective is the practical and original horizon in which users are embedded. Information Science takes the objectivizing "present-at-hand" perspective. In the Preface of their seminal book Understanding Computers and Cognition (1986) Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores wrote: "All new technologies develop within the background of a tacit understanding of human nature and human work. The use of technology in turn leads to fundamental changes in what we do, and ultimately in what it is to be human. We encounter the deep questions of design when we recognize that in designing tools we are designing ways of being." This was and is still a key insight for my LIS research as well as for my view of Information Ethics from an intercultural perspective.

Thank you for your contribution.



The "Naturalization" of the Philosophy of Rafael Capurro: Logic, Information and Ethics.

Joseph E. Brenner


Naturalization of information: what a wonderful research programme! It brings information back to nature (physis) and to the life-world, differentiating between kinds of messengers and messages as forms that are communicated. Not just reversing platonism but looking carefully at what shows itself from itself in all the contradictory richness of its logic, i.e., in the logic of its own possibilities (dynamis) coming from initial forces (archai) that take it to fulfilment (entelecheia), i.e., to presence and permanence. Naturalization means also "the bringing-into-science" of such dynamical processes with methodologies and strategies of reductionism and non-reductionism that allow perspectives from which physical no less than artificial beings can be grasped in their being as based on quantification aiming at forecasting.

"Logic-in-reality" means giving priority to "the basic antagonistic or contradictory nature of reality" in the different ways it announces itself to human understanding and the different possibilities of giving responses to it. "One cannot find responsibility in oneself as an isolated agent" no less than as a worldless human agent. You write: "Information is a meta-concept that defines both the environment and the individual, which cannot be separated from it, and LIR supports this ontological turn in hermeneutics. For me, as for Heidegger, hermeneutics is ontological. LIR is about the most fundamental properties of man's “becoming in the world." This statement is a strong and clear message concerning the issue of "naturalizing" information which is common to both of us. You also write: "The origin and dualistic character of individual and collective moral responsibility to other human beings and the world begins with the awareness that we are individual entities, apparently separate from but also dependent on the world and others." We take a distance from the modern concept of autonomy of an isolated subject and become aware of the tension, instead of the Kantian dichotomy, between autonomy and heteronomy. We learn this today particularly from our being embedded in the digital network which is itself part of a whole of networked things. Heidegger's concept of "world" addresses specifically this semantic and pragmatic "whole" in which we are originally embedded that remains implicit until a tool breaks down. This is why the analysis of "broken technologies" by Fernando Flores Morador is a key issue when it comes to a phenomenology of information based on everyday practices. Arun Tripathi's research is exemplary in this regard and highly relevant for LIS too.

You write: "Heidegger calls "world" the perspective that allows us to see things as contextualized tools. But the formula being-in-the-world characterizes the mode of being of human beings in which we share a world and have a pragmatic objective view of things as tools. Heidegger does not negate or devalue the objective view but makes the key statement, for this comparison with Lupasco, that "being able to switch between the two modes makes manifest our capability of going beyond both, tools and objects" (Capurro, 2008a, Interpreting the Digital Human, paragraph 8)." I think that this is a concise and precise statement that points to the issue of human transcendence ("our capability of going beyond") from a "naturalized" perspective.

It is, indeed, in phenomena such as boredom and loneliness that are not just subjective feelings but ways of being-in-the-world or ways in which the world becomes manifest to us that questions such as "What is the world?" arise. You write: "Most importantly, the relation of all this to human logos is an explicit one as is the way in which the whole is and "interplays" with us." Nature, physis, appearing and concealing itself, give us no possibility to unveil its origin (arche) and goal (telos), in case it is appropriate to use these concepts as different from us who know, in some way, strange enough, about our birth and death. Our being-in-the-world is unheimlich, uncanny, and un-heimlich, homeless. We fail again and again trying to understand the whole of reality and reality as a whole.

To present me "as a philosopher of transition, of transition to a form of knowledge whose outlines to me are neither clear nor determined" is a good formulation for my life and my thinking.

I am very grateful for your comprehensive interpretation of my thinking in dialogue with you and Lupasco. Thank you for your friendship.



Turing's Cyberworld

Michael Eldred


What is the cyberworld but a project, maybe the project at the end of modernity, aiming not only at understanding mathematically the whole of reality but also to do it in the medium of the Universal Turing Machine embracing what Heidegger calls "das Seiende im Ganzen," the world as a totality (omnitudo realitatis).

This totality or world-openness appears to us as three-dimensional time where the phenomenon of presencing and absencing takes place differently in each ekstasis or time modus (past, present, future). Being contingent and fragile, we are able to host for a while what reveals or conceals itself. We can remember, for instance, past events that seem clear as having been like this or that without being able to exclude the possibility of their concealness in this or that regard. Thanks for helping me to better understand this issue.

"Only by virtue of being nested in the existential world of human beings is the cyberworld in time." We should then be cautious speaking about the cyberworld as a world, i.e. as embracing the whole of reality, instead of understanding it as part of the "existential world of human beings." This is a crucial difference. What the digital copula ties is not a subject with a predicate or a subject with an object but one bit string with another one. "As physical, any copulator is tied to the present, i.e. to its present state and what is presently in contact with it (the physical data it receives); it is unable to stretch itself into the two distinct kinds of absence, the past and future, and cope with the ambiguity of presence and absence „simultaneously‟, as a human mind can do and constantly does (even though modern science „thinks nothing‟ of it)." The cyberworld "nested" within the world reduces the "playground" to the present with different possibilities of success and deterioration. The main challenge is, indeed, "that the cyberworld will increasingly engulf human being."

Our long-standing dialogue on these and other issues has helped me to see more clearly what digital ontology is and how a "hermeneutic, ontological compass" can help us to understand the cyberworld as "nested" in the world and not the other way around. We need to think about some strategies for dealing with this key challenge of the digital age.

"Non coerceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo, divinum est" ("not to be coerced by the greatest, but to be contained by the smallest – that is divine”) is Hölderlin's motto in the first book of the Hyperion.
The source is Ignatius of Loyola's epitaph. Aristotle says: "he psyche ta onta pos esti panta" ("the soul is in some way all beings") (De an. III, 8, 431 b 21). "In some way" (pos) indeed.

Thank you for all what I have learnt from you over the years and for our friendship.


Hermeneutics and Information Science: The Ongoing Journey From Simple Objective Interpretation to Understanding Data as a Form of Disclosure

Matthew Kelly


Thanks for retrieving my paths of thought concerning the project of interpreting hermeneutically Information Science. It is, indeed, a long time ago, namely in the eighties, when I started opening my eyes with regard to what was happening around me – my "circunstancia" as José Ortega y Gasset would say – at the Center for Nuclear Documentation located in the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center which is now part of the Technical University of Karlsruhe being called Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). It embraces research institutes dealing with applied material research, molecular biophysics, meteorology and climate research, nanotechnology, technical chemistry and physics and nuclear waste disposal. "The times they are a' changin" (Bob Dylan) and with them not only our understanding of nuclear energy but also of ICT. We talked in that mythical time about bibliographic data bases in the computer science context (data processing). It was hard to imagine that digital interpretation using algorithms, at that time we called them information retrieval languages, would be a key technology of the 21st century.

Digital data is the universal currency of capitalism in the digital age. With the rise of the Internet, data do not refer any more primarily to, for instance, computer applications in the field of scientific communication, i.e., to bibliographic data, but particularly to what users provide about themselves, intentionally or unintentionally. The result are world data banks originating from the use of all kinds of digital devices as well as of smart digitally networked things and processes. User's lives become thus digitally objectivized. This is one condition of  possibility about how to incorporate an objectivist approach to information.

The other condition is to reformulate existential hermeneutics with regard to the digital life-world. From the perspective of the users, digital data are "ready-to-hand" – but the question is: for whom? From the perspective of the owners of world data banks, they are a magic source of capital that nourishes itself, a kind of data fusion reactor similar to the nuclear fusion reactor dreamt in the seventies that was perceived soon as too dangerous for an open society that would mutate into a nuclear surveillance society. The corresponding danger today is the one of an information surveillance society.

I share your conclusion: "It is only when we approach hermeneutic enlightenment as more than the fusion of our own horizon with tradition, when we include a critique of ideology within its ambit (but not its orbit), that we are likely to realize the best of all possibilities: a pluralistic understanding of the language-immersed interpretative schema which we inherit and contribute to and a well-formed objectivistic critique which is open to the contingent and practical requirements of information using communities."

Thank you for retrieving my "hermeneutics and information science" and for your friendship.



The Epistemological Maturity  of Information Science and the Debate Around Paradigms

Fernanda Ribeiro and  Armando Malheiro


I highly appreciate your critical reflections and suggestions concerning the long-standing debate around paradigms in Information Science. I share your views contrasting a cumulative or fragmented approach to the information disciplines with an evolutionary approach that is trans-disciplinary and increasingly scientific. According to my experience, there was little interest in the LIS community in discussing fundamental issues in the seventies and eighties. The discipline was based on practices particularly concerning how the new technologies could and should be used (or not) in the library field. In fact, some librarians were sceptical about it. The use of computers and data bases, for instance, was considered as non-relevant for public libraries when I started teaching documentation at the School of Librarianship in Stuttgart. On the other hand, LIS was mainly conceived from the perspective of information retrieval, particularly at university level.

I like your suggestion of interpreting the evolution of information science in terms of a "custodial" and "post-custodial" process in which the matters dealt with theoretically and practically in the custodial paradigm do not disappear but are seen under a new light in such a way that, as you state, LIS includes "two types of theoretical and practical intervention," one being the "technical matrix" and another one "a know-how based on the study of and on mono-, inter- and multidisciplinary research, which takes the social sciences as a central axis and derivation point for crossing with other scientific disciplines." This allows us to avoid the sometimes polemic discussion about the (in)commensurability of scientific paradigms but also to leave a purely pragmatic approach that gives "professional associations the power to produce guidelines for the development of the curricula of universities."

On the other hand, there is an ongoing transformation of universities into technical schools that deepens the compartmentalisation of disciplines as modules in view of their practical utility. This takes us to the foundational question about the nature of knowledge in the digital age. We need, indeed, more than ever, LIS curricula based on an open inter- und multidisciplinary research and we must abandon, as soon as possible, the "custodial" situation in which they have been relegated to for a long time.

This is a matter to be dealt with also from an ethical perspective that includes, but is by no way identical with, a deontology for librarians and information scientists. This is what you do when you address critically the very nature of the field, starting a discussion which is not dissimilar to the one addressed by Immanuel Kant in his Answer to the question: What is Enlightenment? (1784). Kant was dealing with the custodial power exercised on science by the state, the military and the church. From this perspective, paradigm changes are not just an epistemological issue but are part of the social power-play not only within the sciences and the academic production, transmission and application of scientific knowledge, but also of the sciences as agents in the social interplay and the aim of the institutions on which they are based (resisting, or not, instrumentalisation). LIS academic research and teaching must grow up and enter a "post-custodial" age also in this perspective. Your vision brings a new light and fresh insights into a longstanding discussion. The challenge now is, following Karl Marx' famous dictum, to change the LIS world, once we have interpreted it in a new way.

Thank you for your challenging ideas and for your friendship. I remember with great pleasure the International Seminar you organized in the Escola Superior de Belas Artes in Porto on "Segredo e Memória na Era da Informação" (Secrecy and Memory on the Era of Information) in the 29-30 of November, 2007. The issue is even more relevant today than it was ten years ago.



A Methodology for Studying Knowledge Creation in Organizational Settings: A Phenomenological Viewpoint

Anna Suorsa and Maija-Leena Huotari


I read in the nineties some of the publications that came into the spot light of research on management and business administration, such as the book by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi: The Knowledge Creating Company (1995) or Georg von Krogh, Kazuo Ichijo and Ikujiro Nonaka: Enabling Knowledge Creation (2000) and was surprised that I could not find any explicit mention of hermeneutics (See here). This was an example, I thought, of the compartmentalisation of the sciences even when the phenomena at stake are the same.

Your methodology is an example on how interdisciplinary research can be fruitful, not only in the LIS field. You both bring something new with regard to the discussion in business administration, namely "the experiences of the human beings involved in the process of knowledge creation" as being "in the pivotal position." The interactive process is "an event in itself." You explain this event by saying: "the phenomenon of knowledge creation is always contextual: it happens in a borderless relation to the world (though the concept of context has its problems in the light of hermeneutic phenomenology)." You take the issue of phenomenology seriously, namely to let the phenomenon of knowledge creation be what it is, the interplay between participants that takes place within a shared theoretical and/or practical context. You write: "When we study the phenomenon of knowledge creation as an experiential phenomenon, we can gain from the participants’ multiple stories and interpretations of their experiences. These data can be collected by using interviews, diaries or even surveys. In the data gathering the phenomenological research emphasizes openness: open-ended questions and dialogues are promoted to gain descriptions of the experiences (Moustakas, 1994, p. 13)." You add this important remark: "It is also important not to assume anything, as the premise of a phenomenologically oriented research is that the interviewer “does not seek to predict or determine causal relationships” (Moustakas, 1994, p. 105)."

You apply this phenomenological premise to the study of an event of interaction "in which phenomenology structures the forming of knowledge on a very fundamental level, starting from perceptions and their interpretation. The phenomenological attitude rises from the notion of perceptions and phenomena as the real objects of study. Only a phenomenon exists in a certain time and place and only it can be reached. In phenomenology one does not search for truth or an idea behind the perceived phenomenon but examines what is manifested in the event (Zahavi, 2007, p. 15) Phenomenon is not a fixed object but a way of encountering. At the same time the ambiguity of knowledge becomes obvious: all knowledge is based on the perceived phenomenon and thus dependent on the perceiver's perspective and intention (Heidegger, 2006, pp. 28-31)."

I fully share your insights as well as your conclusion that "the hermeneutic viewpoint does not offer simple models for knowledge creation; instead it emphasizes the deep and complex nature of the phenomenon. Phenomenological hermeneutics offers a well-grounded and coherent basis for understanding the phenomenon and provides the structure of the hermeneutical circle with which to further analyze and study interaction empirically."

Thank you for your contribution.



The Significance of Digital Hermeneutics for the Philosophy of Technology

Arun Kumar Tripathi


"From a Euro-American perspective technology is viewed through its connection with the sciences, while in South America the perspective is the reverse, science is viewed through its technologies understood as cultural instruments; this places the technification of sciences in the foreground." This first sentence of your contribution opens a broad intercultural and interdisciplinary research programme. One important source for South America is the work of the Argentinian philosopher Rodolfo Kusch (1922 - 1979). There is a long history about science and technology as seen from a Europe-US-South America, including Central America and the Caribbean, perspectives addressed, for instance, by the Argentinian Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811-1888), the Cuban José Martí (1853-1895), or the Uruguayans José Enrique Rodó (1871-1917) and Carlos Vaz Ferreira (1872-1958), to mention just a few. The present situation concerns obviously the impact of ICTs on all aspects of social life.

Don Ihde, Peter-Paul Verbeek, David Kaplan and Bernhard Irrgang are, indeed, important representatives of a critical phenomenology of technology. Thank you for bringing my thoughts into a conversation with them and with your thoughts as well. This creates an exciting space of reflection. You write how Don Ihde's postphenomenology "focuses on how human-technological devices affect intentionality through meaning-making practices." I agree with Patrick Heelan's remark that "the term postphenomenology is immediately linked with ― "postmodernism" which is a critique of modernism. According to Heelan, postphenomenology is not a critique of phenomenology but a careful, concrete, and hermeneutic application of (particularly Merleau-Pontyan) phenomenology to technological practices." This is the kind of analysis that we should do, looking critically at the historical, economic, material, and cultural contexts in which technological practices are instantiated. Considering technological practices within the horizon of the human "power play" (Eldred), means learning from Karl Marx, Antonio Gramsci and Michel Foucault. "Material hermeneutics" can be conceived as historico-dialectical hermeneutics that is largely lacking in my thought but that can be related to it following the paths opened by you as well as by Marco Schneider, Bernd Frohmann and Christian Fuchs who have fortunately contributed to this Festschrift. The question concerning technology is intrinsically related to the question of being and the question of power no less, as your remark, to the question of embodiment in material practices in everyday life, something that Fernando Flores Morador has carefully and critically analyzed with the concept of "broken technologies."

Thank you for your friendship and for sharing with me over the years your vast knowledge on Western and Indian philosophy and on your ongoing research on hermeneutics of technological culture.



II Information Ethics



Reconciling Social Responsibility and Neutrality in LIS Professional Ethics: A Virtue Ethics Approach

John T. F. Burgess


Social responsibility and library neutrality are two important and, as you rightly remark, often conflicting values of the LIS profession. The attempt or even the temptation to misuse libraries as well as educational institutions for indoctrination by means of abuse of power at micro-, meso- and macro-levels is omnipresent also in democratic societies and has a global dimension in the digital age. Although no technology is neutral as far as it changes the possibilities of action and with it the question of responsibility for what can or should be done in view of this change, the value of neutrality can be interpreted as dealing with non-discrimination of users and their needs. This can be achieved by legal means but this eventually presupposes that the persons performing the practices within a community are conscious of their social responsibility particularly in situations in which forces inside or outside the institution in which they work become active in order to enforce their interests (which may be detrimental to the value of neutrality or non-discrimination).

Your essay dealing with a virtue ethics approach to this issue offers "a framework to accommodate both values." Virtue ethics of professionalism in LIS is no less crucial than in other branches such as banks or the car industry, to mention two examples in which the lack of virtue ethics is evident. You write: "Knowledge of an organization‘s functional characteristics is combined with knowledge of the profession‘s unique genealogical trajectory; the result is not only a professional identity, but a culture that reinforces the worth and goals of that profession and guides the acceptable ethical behaviour of its members. LIS professionals may be expected to represent not only their institutions when they are engaged in public discourse, but their profession as well (Budd, 2008)." Although a virtuous person is a necessary condition for good life in a society, there remains a tension, as Aristotle clearly saw, between ethical and political issues. The identification of both in a Platonic ideal state, means in reality the establishment of a doctrine, the exclusion of critique via censorship, and the negation of private life under the dictate of a tyrannis.

As you rightly state: "Individual professionals are also guided by a variety of ethical bases, representing many cultural perspectives, and a variety of economic and political realities. Given this diversity, it is difficult for an international profession to maintain homogenous ethical concepts that centrally inform identity and practice." I fully agree with your conclusion that "professionalism is not an ethically neutral approach." In a globalized world, we need more than ever a critical intercultural dialogue on the issues addressed in your contribution.

The quest for universality cannot be solved alone with the help of professional codes of ethics but must go through a patient and concrete analysis of the dilemmas implicit in such codification not only with regard to their implementation but also to the interpretation of the values themselves. This last task should be a special focus in LIS education as well as in professional bodies at national and international levels. In the Western tradition we call phronēsis this prudential reflection that illuminates different possibilities concerning the relation between means and ends.

Thank you for your contribution.



Information Ethics in the Age of Digital Labour and the Surveillance-Industrial Complex

Christian Fuchs


A critical reflection on the political economy of social media is not only an urgent task due to the transformation of classical industrial capitalism into a digital-based one, but also a big challenge for philosophers and economists or, to put it more explicitly, for philosopher-economists for which in Modernity the work of Karl Marx, in spite of the ideological malformations and dictatorial regimes it gave rise to, builds a main source for critical thinking about power (class) struggles in the 21st century.

We, in academia and in political life, need more than ever a Marxian perspective if we want to know the world in which we live, which is not only dependent on "the military-industrial complex" as courageously addressed by Dwight D. Eisenhower when leaving office in 1961, but on "the age of digital labour and the surveillance-industrial complex" in all the forms such a complex is taking in the world today. The options we have for bringing what is to the level of knowledge opens paths of liberation—as Hegel wrote at the beginning of his Lectures on the History of Philosophy (Chapter 2, a: "The Notion of Development"). The difference between being "in himself" free and to know "for himself" that one is free "is quite enormous" ("ganz ungeheuer") although through having made himself "double" does not mean "that a new content has been produced. [...] The whole variation in the development of the world in history is founded on this difference." This difference is no less "enormous" with regard to the question of being free "in himself" and "for himself" in the digital age.

You are right when you write that I advance "a concept of information ethics that in its stress on ambiguities of the information age is not unrelated to a Hegelian and Marxian dialectical logic that stresses the analysis of antagonisms." You are also right, when you say that I stand "with the foregrounding of human rights in Internet ethics in a Kantian tradition. This is expressed in his demand for a human right to freedom of communication on the Internet. One certainly must see how such freedoms remain in asymmetric societies class-structured. Economic and political power limits freedom so that universal ethical and legal claims are practically undermined and remain unrealised." This is, indeed, the theoretical and practical challenge we are facing in the 21st century.

Your criticisms of Floridi are not the same as mine, but there is at least one point where we converge: "It is worth highlighting that Floridi‘s analysis does not problematise exploitation. His information ethics does not give importance to the phenomena of class and exploitation and is, therefore, particularly unsuited for a critique of exploitation in the information age." What makes possible this convergence is my Heideggerian-based criticism of metaphysics and the historical reflection on the changing essence of technology. I see no necessity (ananke) steering us if we are aware of the key role that chance (tyche) plays in human affairs (praxis) as highlighted by Aristotle in Book II of his Physics. Thinking power and labour from the perspective of being as three-dimensional time, is no less crucial than thinking being from the perspective of the power play, class struggle being a form of it. We, as a plurality of human beings sharing a common world, face an open but limited horizon of felicitous and murderous possibilities of action. The realization of some of them is nothing metaphysically permanent, neither for Marx nor for Heidegger, and not even for Aristotle, "der grösste Denker des Altertums" ("the greatest thinker of Antiquity") as Marx called him in Das Kapital (I, 4, ch. 13, b).

Thank you for your friendship and for your contribution that resumes our conversations in Salzburg and Vienna.



Intercultural Information Ethics: A Pragmatic Consideration

Soraj Hongladarom


Intercultural Information Ethics (IIE) is a mark I created in 2004 at the ICIE symposium "Localizing the Internet. Ethical Issues in Intercultural Perspective" in order not to forget that we live in a world shared not only by a plurality of individual human beings but also by a plurality of social identities or cultures changing over time. Although the reflection on cultural issues of ICT goes back to the CATaC (Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication) conferences organized by Charles Ess et al. since 1998. You were probably the first scholar who wrote on ethical issues of ICT from a Buddhist perspective.

Raising the question of cultural diversity with regard to ethical values and principles is problematic if it is understood as opposed to universal ethical values and principles codified, for instance, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Looking back into history one can even discover that some of these values and principles are the common heritage of humanity beyond cultural differences. You write that "[...] as the internet, both the original internet and the Internet of Things (IoT), spreads across the globe, a concern arises over the clash between the values originally embedded in the internet itself and those of the various cultures wherein it is introduced. Even within the culture where the internet originated we can find conflicts between varying sets of values." This means that although we can agree on the universality of some values, this agreement does not preclude their potential conflict in different situations nor that such values and principles can have different kinds of foundations.

Taking the example of privacy you write: "The European emphasis on data protection and privacy, then, was understandable in light of the overall outlook of European culture that put less emphasis on individualism than did America from where the Internet originated." This is an inner conflict between two Western cultures, in case one wants to simplify the matter about one "American" and one "European" culture. "This shows," as you rightly state, "that the Internet, as with other forms of technologies, can lend itself to the cultural environment it finds itself in." It follows that instead of starting an ethical reflection with a universal a priori of whatever content – Kant was in favour of the formal criterion of universalisability – we can deal, as you do, with the factual situation of having different opinions and values, for instance about the role of the Internet, which shows "that culture does indeed play a role, and it is to our benefit to look closely at this interplay towards an understanding of the philosophical insights one can obtain through reflecting on it." Your arguments and particularly your "pragmatic consideration" of the question of privacy from a Buddhist perspective is one of the most illuminating arguments I have ever read concerning the importance of taking seriously cultural differences when it comes to looking for the ground(s) as well as for different ways of understanding ethical values and principles. What an amazing insight for me, a "Westerner," to find in compassion the Buddhist foundation for the right to privacy! The plausibility of universal ideas and ideals depends on how seriously we take the task of carefully and deeply analysing cultural differences and bringing them into a conversation. Striving towards universality through particularity is the royal road ("Königsweg") of Enlightenment.

Thank you for your friendship, your wisdom, and for the time we spent together in different parts of the world, particularly in Bangkok. We both found in Professor Makoto Nakada (University of Tsukuba, Japan) a friend and colleague with whom I have been working with for ten years.



Ethics of European Institutions as Normative Foundation of Responsible Research

Bernd Carsten Stahl


I have learned a lot about issues concerning "responsible research and innovation" (RRI) working with European institutions such as the European Group on Science and New Technologies (EGE) to the European Commission, where I had the privilege to be a member for ten years (2000-2010) and in European projects like ETHICBOTS (2006-2007) and, under your leadership, ETICA (2009-2011). What happens when academic ethicists and public policy institutions converge temporarily and hopefully, in timely ways, in order to deliberate and provide advice on different courses of actions? This advice might, later on, be discussed in parliament and may even lead to legal regulations. One of my lessons learned is the hermeneutic insight on the importance of the context in which we work and for whom. What is at stake in such interdisciplinary groups inside political institutions is a cautious and critical reflection about what appears to be the beginning (arche) and the end (telos) and, of course, the different means to achieve that end concerning ethical issues arising from science and technology that are identified as problematic for society.

As you rightly remark: "The problem of proactive engagement with research and innovation activities is particularly pertinent in information and communication technologies (ICTs) whose uses are notoriously difficult to predict and whose ubiquity render them of high social relevance. [...] Values are notoriously difficult to capture and describe. They can also contradict each other. Using values to support the normative basis of RRI requires a difficult exercise which involves identifying and describing values and demonstrating their reach and validity. It is, furthermore, not obvious whether and to what degree, particular values are applicable to particular technologies, in our case to particular ICTs."

Following this line of thought the practical challenge is to consider values as inherently related to the valuing process within the human "interplay" (Michael Eldred). Values can contradict each other because there are differences among the evaluators – we, humans, are an ens aestimans – with regard to a particular situation based on the interests involved implicitly or explicitly. In other words, values need to be interpreted within changing situations and as related to different cultural traditions that are not untouchable but contingent and subject to change when facing new possibilities of understanding coming from the others as well as new options for common action.

We are today more than ever aware that such an evaluating interplay should be based on rules of fair play that take into consideration not only the human players but the world they share. Human rights are inextricably related to the rights of other living beings as well as to the material conditions for survival. The "right to life" is a basic right, being subject, as any other moral or legal right, to a process of interpretation and application. Hans-Georg Gadamer has taught us to be aware of the relation between legal and existential hermeneutics particularly with regard to the interpretation and application of norms as a special task that is rooted in the fact that we are evaluating beings, i.e., beings that must take care of their lives in a shared world. Different schools of ethics in different cultures and epochs give us a rich instrumentarium. We should consider the diversity of ethical theories as an advantage and not as a handicap or even as a danger.

Thank you for your friendship and for having given me the opportunity to work with you in the ETICA project.



III From Information to Message



Raphael's School of Athens from the Perspective of Angeletics.

John D. Holgate


This is a fascinating angeletic interpretation of Raphael's School of Athens and other frescos and paintings. I remember Professor Hans Belting, an internationally renown art historian, telling me that each time he comes to Rome a colleague asks him if he could further decipher the persons depicted in this fresco. "Who then is this young semi-naked messenger figure and what is the message (angelia) contained in the scroll and the two anonymous codices he carries? Who amongst this assembly of great minds is the intended reader? How does this angeletic situation epitomise the underlying message of the painting?" Good questions! The young messenger has a scroll in his left hand and two books (!) in his right hand. Other persons, most notably Plato and Aristotle themselves, have also books of which we can read their titles, namely Timeo in the case of Plato, and Etica in the case of Aristotle, who has four fingers between "Etic" and "a," not enough, I think, to imagine "Nicomache" in the space in between, but what else can this title mean? All books in this fresco look like coming fresh out of the printing press maybe to point to the modernity of their messages with regard to the old scrolls and the overwhelming influence of the Christian message and messengers.

What is news? In her book News and Society in the Greek Polis (1996, p. 1-4) Sian Lewis writes: "In 396 news came to the Spartans that the Persian King was preparing a fleet of warships for use in the campaign against the Spartan allies in Asia Minor. Xenophon gives an account of the means by which the news reached Sparta: A Syracusan called Herodas had been in Phenicia 'with a shipowner', and when he saw the preparations, he sailed on the first boat to Greece to warn the Spartans. This story is typical of Xenophon; [...]  It is also a paradigmatic story about news in Greece. The coming of the news is haphazard; it is only by chance that it is brought to the attention of the Spartans. The messenger is not official, but there appears to be more to the story than meets the eye, since he was accepted without question by the Spartans. The news was brought as quickly as possible with normal means. [...] The desire to hear news is documented in all societies ancient and modern, from the Athenian in the Agora asking "Legetai ti kainon?' (What's new?) to islanders in the west of Ireland in the 1960s awaiting the boat bringing news from the mainland. [...] Ta kaina, new things, or kainoi logoi, new stories, are reported, but the primary word is aggellô, I report, and its cognates. To bring news is to bring a message or report, and the advent of news is described impersonally: êggeilen, it was reported. An aggelma is both news and a message  clearly the act of reporting is what creates news. It is worth noting that Greek vokabulary for news does not distinguish between truth and falsity – phêmê, common report, is not intrinsically lest trustworthy than logos (story) or epistolê (message); the distinction is one of source. A newsmonger, someone who makes up news, is in Greek a logopoios, a fabricator of stories. This word also denotes a poet, but this is less surprising when placed in a Greek context. There was no correlation made between history and truth as opposed to poetry and fiction; on the contrary the Homeric poems, for instance, were treated by historical writers as legitimate history. The tales of poets and dramatists, equally, were drawn from myth, and hence true, as opposed to invented stories. A logopoios, then, is not necessarily a liar; as Demosthenes makes clear in his condemnation of newsmongers, it is because they are able to be plausible and authoritative that they are so dangerous."

Maybe Raphael's messengers came from a ship "outside of the system" as you write. Control over the dissemination of information is a key issue not only in war times. Xenophon's Cyropaedia is full of stories about messengers and messages. According to Herodotus (History, Book 8, 98, 1), "[...] there is nothing mortal which accomplishes a journey with more speed than these messengers (angelon), so skilfully has this been invented (exeuretai) by the Persians." Had Raphael the opportunity to read Xenophon and Herodotus in the studiolo of Federico da Montefeltro or in other libraries?

Your heretical interpretation of Raphael's messengers and messages is unique: "Raphael displayed an ambiguous trinity of personalities each represented as characters in the School — Raphael Sanzio, the creator of magnificent Madonnas and Papal apologist of the Christian story; Raphael Urbinas, the master craftsman of the Umbrian School and consummate exponent of technique; and finally the hedonistic Raffaello, the cryptic Pythagorean and explorer of the dark mystic underbelly of the Renaissance."

You have luckily rebaptized angeletics as messaging theory, giving it a more profane anglo-saxon name. There is no etymological connection between the peninsula of Angeln or Anglia and the Greek angelos, not to mention divine messengers.

Thank you for your friendship and for your longstanding work in angeletics / messaging theory.



Understanding the Pulse of Existence: An Examination of Capurro's Angeletics

Fernando Flores Morador


"Understanding the Pulse of Existence": what a wonderful title to address the issue of angeletics. What does human existence mean other than the tension  between engagement and acedia in view of "the double nature of the human act" "between thinking and acting." Engagement and acedia are two poles of communication behaviour, one of amelioration and the other one of deterioration, one fulfilling itself in acting and the other one "proper to the processing of pure data" with a lot of possibilities between these two poles. You write: "As we understand Capurro's work, the angeletic perspective leaves behind the opposition between object and subject and substitutes it with inter-subjectivity in context as noema and pragma; a proper message will then, not only "inform," but also "persuade"." This is what we could call the angeletic turn although still using the modern subject-object terminology und Husserl's term (noema) that belongs to a phenomenology of consciousness and not to the one of communication as angeletics.

You write: "It would be possible to distinguish communicative types that combine different angeletic paths: some examples could be the "command"; the path of "regular conversation"; the path of "asking" or the path of "wishing." This is obviously a case of logical reasoning and, of course, it is possible to translate it into the language of traditional logic, but only if the traditional logical contents subordinates the rhythm of the facts." Excellent. To teach/to inform (docere, informare), to influence/to move (movere) and to please (delectare) are modes of human communication. They are addressed by Aristotle as deliberative speech (genos symbouleutikon), juridical (and judicial) speech (genos dikanikon) and laudatory speech (genos epideiktikon) (Rhet. 1358b). This induced me in the early nineties to understand Information Science as a rhetorical discipline. The book by Lawrence William Rosenfield Aristotle and Information Theory: A Comparison of the Influence of Causal Assumptions on Two Theories of Communication (The Hague 1971) raised my attention. I quoted it in my Hermeneutik der Fachinformation (1986).

You write: "To understand Capurro's angeletics, we introduce the opposition between "order" and "information" (as the measurement of "disorder") in relation to probabilities. "Order" arises together with certainty while information is the expression of uncertainty." This is Shannon, of course. But then you add: "The dialectics of knowing versus interpreting or that of reasoning versus believing follows this path, fragmenting and reconstructing intentionality, moving from a very uncertain world to a very convincing world, and vice versa." This is angeletics having gone through Shannon.

You state that for me "information is fragmented intentionality." I understand this fragmentation as being twofold: 1) in reducing knowledge to pieces, the original contextuality disappears or becomes tacit; and 2) knowledge becomes dependent on the knower's frame of reference, truth and relevance are tied together. You call this existential tension the "logic of rhythm." Your conclusion is exciting; “This short proclamation made intentionality the inverse of information and opened the way for an operative understanding of the meaningfulness of discourse as a process; in other words, the succession of moments during which different intentional fragments of different weights are organized and reorganized to create sense. That is the starting point of Angeletics, the discipline that studies diachronically the reorganization of intentionality in a discourse. This is going to have important consequences for the future development of artificial intelligence as the formalized pulse of existence."

Having gone through Heidegger, intentionality does not mean a phenomenon taking place inside subjective consciousness as a relation between noesis and noema but the factual existence of being with others in a common world. I understand being as messaging and Heidegger's thinking as angeletic as he himself says in From a Conversation on Language - Between a Japanese and an Inquirer (1953/54). But already his early concept of phenomenon as that which discloses itself, addressing us in such a way that we are not the masters of the play, is an angeletic approach. Heidegger distinguishes in this late dialogue between two kinds of sayings to respond to language or to being as world messaging namely "speaking from" ("sprechen von") and "speaking about" ("sprechen über"). In the psychoanalytic setting, the logic of "speaking about" creates an illusionary homogenous order that can be crossed by messaging in the mode of "speaking from." This has consequences for the turn done by Heidegger and Medard Boss from psychoanalysis to Daseinsanalyse. But we should not forget what Freud said in the Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1916/17) regarding the "meager messages ("kärgliche Nachrichten") about what happens unconsciously in his soul." For Lacan, as you write, is the "Self" "a circumstantial illusion and any definitive existential harmony outside the angeletical rhythm is impossible to achieve."

Thank you for your friendship and your synnoein that opens common paths of thought for us and surely also for others.



The Demon in the Gap of Language: Capurro, Ethics and Language in Divided Germany

Gustavo Silva Saldagna


When I arrived to Germany, more precisely to Karlsruhe, in 1972, Germany was a divided country and Berlin a divided city. I remember my first trip to East Berlin with Annette, who became my wife in 1974, and Thomas, her brother. I had a Uruguayan passport. It was the time of the guerrilla group Tupamaros of which one of whose leaders, José Mujica, became president in 2010 after having been imprisoned for 13 years during the military dictatorship (1973-1985). I was starting a two years study of documentation at the Center for Nuclear Documentation located in the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center. A Uruguayan young man, studying documentation at a Nuclear Research Center who wanted to go the East Berlin was obviously extremely suspect for the DDR Border Police at Checkpoint Charlie, the crossing point for foreigners. They took me to a separate room and asked me questions such as:

- "Why do you want to visit East Berlin?' I answered: "I want to visit the famous museums, particularly the Pergamon Museum."

- "What are you studying in West Germany?" I answered: "Documentation."

- "What is documentation?" I answered: "Well I don't know yet, since the courses have just started."

The interrogation took an hour or so. I became nervous, of course, although the Border Policemen were very polite. Once I passed the control, Annette and Thomas, who were waiting for me on the other side, asked me with astonishment why had it taken so long. We spent a nice day together in East Berlin.

In some way, Damiel and Cassiel were and still are daimones inside me roaming the divided city in those early 70s when I met Annette and I found myself thrown into the German Dasein leaving the role of the Uruguayan observer – there is no desire-free observation, at least for us, humans – with Italian roots, speaking Spanish as a mother tongue. Cassiel, the foreigner, remained for a time my heaven over Germany. Both became "the demon in the gap of language," more precisely, in the gap of Spanish and German.

As your mythological story suggests, my life turned into a message carried by Hermes, the "principle of impulsion," coming from beyond into Hestia's German home, "the principle of permanence." You write: "The life of such an individual is the life of one who faces the ethical-informational challenges of a dichotomous reality, divided, therefore, between First World and Third World, between East and West, and who proposes the search for a transversal-ethical construction between such poles." Hermes is still whispering messages of happiness and peace in different languages that unite and divide us but that are possible answers to the open possibilities of the world we share together.

Thank you for your friendship and for helping me to decipher the messages sent to me by the Enigma-machine that is human life. Each human life being unique, we cannot expect that when we believe how to better interpret and manage our personal life, we could logically deduce a conclusio for others. But others can maybe learn how to do it.



IV Historic and Semiotic Themes


General Intellect, Communication and Contemporary Media

Bernd Frohmann


The work of John Durham Peters, particularly his book Speaking into the Air (1999) as well as the new one The Marvelous Clouds. Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media (2015) are indeed "a fitting description of the central concerns" of my work "on the ethical and political dimensions of communication and message theory." In his new book Peters writes: "The old oral world of face-to-face interaction is not necessarily more real or vital than artificially mediated ones. Presence, of course, is a medium too. [...] People long to be with their dear ones not because they harbor the illusion that presence and voice yield privileged access to the other's soul that writing cannot afford. If it's mind you want, and many do, then writing is better. But we also want and need each other's bodies and presence, and not only in a sexual way." (p. 276). This fits into yours as well as into my ethical and political concerns. You write: "Peters notes that "there is nothing ethically deficient about broadcasting as a one-way flow," nor "are the gaps between sender and receiver always chasms to be bridged; they are sometimes vistas to be appreciated or distances to be respected" (p. 59), and often the "dream of communication has too little respect for personal inaccessibility" (p. 59). At best, he says, "communication is a dance of differences, not a junction of spirits" (p. 65). The concept-cloud of communication generates a concept-cloud of associated political possibilities; there is much more to be said."

I am not familiar with the work of Paolo Virno and particularly with his concept of "general intellect." Thanks for introducing me to it in dialogue with Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Collier and Lakoff, Shannon, Habermas, Latour, Kittler, Chomsky, Lacan, Hardt and Negri, Marx, Lenin, and Peters. What a magnificent intellectual cosmos for thinking information, documentation, and communication in relation to society, power, and capital looking for new forms of local and global assemblages.

Let me quote your last provocative sentences about becoming "thinkers of the unintelligible" as suggested by your friend and colleague Warren Steele, Western University, Faculty of Information & Media Studies. His profile in the FIM website reads as follows: "my research interests include: the philosophy of technology (Heidegger, especially); technics and responsibility; the politics of love, memory, mourning, and melancholia; film; critical race theory; critical whiteness studies; Marxist political economy; and media theory." You write "[...] that thinking about communication might find value in the unreadable, inherently undecidable, inaudible, unheard of or non-said, especially in a communicative scene that harbors the reactionary dream of channels without ambiguity, interference, surprise, static, the unexpected, and noise. Their virtues and possibilities carve a space apart from the continual flow of authorized "communication," and provokes my friend's question: do we not also need to become thinkers of the unintelligible? I am grateful for the question, and hope the unsaid in this paper provokes others." I am sure it will.

Thank you for our longstanding friendship and for bringing, as usual, good and fresh thoughts about general and special topoi of resistance in and to the capitalist digital society.



"Data": The Data

Jonathan Furner


What is data? I am very thankful for your contribution to this question that brings into my mind my early research on the etymology and the history of ideas of the information concept also in relation to the concept of the document in the context of LIS. I defined the concept of information within the framework of Information Science as follows: "Information is the documentary existing knowledge as far as it becomes available or 'useful' (Information as communicable knowledge)." ("Information ist das dokumentarisch vorhandene Wissen, sofern dieses dem Benutzer zugänglich bzw. "nützlich" gemacht wird. (Information als kommunizierbares Wissen)." (Information, 1978, p. 293).

At that time, in the seventies, the concept of data was not on the forefront of the LIS discussion beyond its use in compounds like data bases, i.e., related to computer science where it was omnipresent. A few years later, in my Hermeneutik (1986), it is there particularly in relation to Börje Langefors "infological" approach according to which the concept of information is based not only on "data" but also on the cognitive or semantic structure. It follows that data is (are) not Information(s) – the plural is not common in English probably because the Latin concept informatio concerns the process of formation of the senses, the intellect, the customs... and less its result; the British empiricists used, instead, the word impressions which comes close to the Greek typos – and not every information can be made understandable to every cognitive subject. A text 'contains' no information without a "receiving structure." According to Langefors, data without "pre-knowledge" are not Information(s) (Hermeneutik, 1986, p. 52-55).

In philosophy the concept of  and the word data is familiar to me from Kant's Kritik der reinen Vernunft. In the Transcendental Analytics he writes that concepts and all principles ("Grundsätze") can be as a priori as they want but they must have a relation to "data of possible experience" ("auf Data zur möglichen Erfahrung") (KrV, B 298). In the Transcendental Dialectics he states: "it is likewise sufficient to refute empirical idealism that without perception even fictions and dreams are not possible, so our outer senses, as regards the data ("den Datis nach") from which experience can arise, have actual corresponding objects in space." (KrV A 377). The German present participle "given" ("gegeben") is, of course, given (!) from the very beginning. You point to it in your contribution. The Latin origin of data can still be heard in Kant. It would be interesting to follow the path you mention about the Arabic translation of Euclid's Dedoména and the way(s) in which this term was discussed in the Arabic/Islamic context.

André Lalande's Vocabulaire technique et critique de la philosophie has an entry "Données, D. Data, Annahmen; E. Data; I. Dati" in the sense of assumptions ("assomptions") as well as to "Donné" (masculine) meaning what is immediately given ("synonyme d'immédiat, de premier, de conscient") and a reference to Herbert Spencer's System of Synthetic Philosophy "The Data of Biology" vs. "The Induction of Biology" as well "The Data of Psychology", "The Data of Sociology" and "The Data of Ethics." There is also Henri Bergson's doctoral thesis: "Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience" (1889).

The conceptual relationship between data and document that you propose is convincing for me. You write "The position I wish to develop in this paper, however, is that it is not in fact the case that documents are made up of data. On the contrary, it is the other way round: datasets are made up of documents." The only etymological study on the concept of document I know about is the one by Helmut Arntz (1912-2007), who was many years president of the (former) Deutsche Gesellschaft für Dokumentation (DGD) (German Society for Documentation): "documentatio a documento" in: Nachrichten für Dokumentation, 5, 4, Dec. 1954, 171-179.

Thank you for your contribution.



On the Pre-History of Library Ethics: Documents and Legitimacy

Joacim Hansson


Although I knew that librarianship has a long tradition of ethical statements regarding the profession it is new for me that there are documents going back up to the 15th century. "It is possible to argue that librarianship is one of the founding professions of civilisation." This argument opens a broad and long path of research on documented ethical statements in cultures other than the West. Professional ethics is indeed not the whole story about ethical issues of a profession as far as they concern society as a whole but they are an important mark for a profession to having achieved awareness about their social responsibility, something that other professions have done in recent times with one famous exception, at least, namely medicine.

I prefer to speak of moral instead of ethical codes in order to clarify the difference between ethics as an academic reflection and its object, namely the customs and rules of behaviour in a given society (Latin: philosophia moralis vs mores, Greek: philosophia ethiké vs ethos). In everyday language both concepts are often used as synonyms or they are put together without a clear understanding of their difference. Sometimes ethics is supposed to deal with rules of conduct and morality with the difference between right or wrong. But in this case a difference should be also made between an academic reflection on both issues which is called moral philosophy.

Your analysis of the pre-history of library ethics raises the question about what kind of reflection had taken place and how far this reflection had to do also with the application of such rules, similarly of what happens with the academic reflection about law as well as about the application of a given law. In other words, my question is about the existence of some kind of library ethics hermeneutics prior to what we have today taking as an example the work of Robert Hauptman and the ethical debates in different library fora such as IFLA.

As you rightly state: "Although hard to define, certain ways of conduct are often seen among, for instance, physicians and lawyers, giving them a certain kind of authority in the relation with their patients or clients. This conduct may be described as simultaneously emphatic and distanced, and has developed over generations of practitioners" (emphasis added) and, I would add, also of theoreticians. A new situation forces, so to speak, professionals to reflect on the given rules that do not quite fit as a normative horizon for what makes a societal difference. Ethical reflection arises particularly in times of crisis. As you write: "Presenting the final version of his code in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in 1922, Knowles Bolton acknowledges the virtue based tradition, but also emphasises the importance of taking it forward so as to repay a debt to the first pioneering generation of American librarians."

I fully agree with you when you characterize the "pre-history" of library ethics as dealing with: "(1) founding charters for libraries and instructions to librarians, (2) peer handbooks in librarianship, written primarily by prominent librarians, defining the profession from a practical point of view, and (3) educational texts developed in direct relation to the emergence of new and increasingly academic levels of education for librarians."

Your analysis of the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana takes me back to John Holgate's interpretation of Raphael's frescos that asks now for an explicit connection to the matter you address. If Ad Decorem "does not evolve (as far as we know) from discussions involving librarians," with whom had Sixtus IV conversations on this issue? Is there any source in the theological debates and documents of that time? Naudé pre-announces the discussions in the République des lettres of philosophers like Voltaire and Kant.

Some years ago I read in the newspaper about a catalogue of rules and values dealing with the management of knowledge in ancient Babylon. Prof. Markus Hilgert (Oriental Institute, University of Heidelberg) told me that this is a very interesting topic but we missed the possibility of further contact. Since 2002, The British Museum has run a project "The Library of Ashurbanipal." According to the website information: "The oldest surviving royal library in the world is that of Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria (668-circa- 630 BC). British Museum archaeologists discovered more than 30,000 cuneiform tablets and fragments at his capital, Nineveh (modern Kuyunjik). Alongside historical inscriptions, letters, administrative and legal texts, were found thousands of divinatory, magical, medical, literary and lexical texts. This treasure-house of learning has held unparalleled importance to the modern study of the ancient Near East ever since the first fragments were excavated in the 1850s." In 2015 - ISIS burned the Mosul Museum Library.

Thank you for your contribution.



Ethico-Philosophical Reflection on Overly Self-Confident or Even Arrogant Humanism Applied to a Possible History-Oriented Rationality of the Library and Librarianship

Vesa Suominen


Descartes, the library, and librarianship! What a wonderful and fresh topic to deal with. Although Descartes is generally considered as the father of subject-centered philosophy it is often ignored that he can be interpreted as belonging to the tradition of philosophy as art de vivre that implies, as Pierre Hadot has shown, different kinds of exercices spirituels or of technologies du soi as Michel Foucault called them. The question is then whether Hadot is right when he believes that already in the Middle Ages philosophy was not any more conceived of as spiritual exercises of self-examination or, as Foucault argues by saying that the break takes place with Descartes. (See my Leben im Informationszeitalter 1995).

But, in fact, Descartes was educated in the Jesuit college of La Flèche. His famous dream in Ulm in Winter 1619 deals with a classic question of Ignatian sprituality, namely: "Quod vitae sectabor iter?" (Which way shall I take in my life?). His Regulae ad directionem ingenii (1618) dealing with the formation of the scientific mind has a clear Ignatian mark. Not to speak of the title itself of one of his masterpieces, the Meditationes. Some of his methods recall Ignatian exercises as well, particularly when he moves to The Netherlands where he expects "to lead a life as solitary and withdrawn as if I were in the most remote desert" (Discours de la Méthode, 3rd Part, last sentence). The methodic doubt aims at attaining self-mastery and with it peace of mind ("tranquilité de son âme"). I pointed to this in my Leben im Informationszeitalter (1995).

There is also an interesting dialogue between Descartes and Princess Elisabeth about how an "immaterial being" can move or be moved by a body. Princess Elisabeth speaks from an Aristotelian perspective about the soul "informing" the body. Descartes uses the same word, namely "inform" but with the modern meaning that the ideas communicate or "informant" the intellect when then it turns its attention to what is drawn ("depictae") in the bodily imagination (phantasia corporea). For Descartes, in opposition to Aristotle, the "forms of thought" (cogitationis formam) are not "depicted" in the brain. The mind communicates directly with the ideas and in turn with the brain without any kind of substantial 'in-formational' process. See more in R. Capurro & J. Holgate: Messages and Messengers, 2011, p. 167. See also here.

You write: "In general terms, we can find with both Descartes and Gadamer a claim that we can never exhaustively conceive of the foundation of our capacity to know and understand anything. Consequences of this in this essay are ethical by nature: if we cannot conceive of the foundation of our knowledge and understanding, an overly self confident attitude could approach arrogance." But what about the library and Librarianship? Libraries are places where we can find knowledge. Librarianship deals with  methods about how to do it. Scriptum est means, from an angeletic perspective, missum est. Gadamer's hermeneutics deals with the interpretation of a given text. Angeletics takes a step back and considers texts as messages. Hermes, like Iris, the rainbow, are messengers, not only interpreters. A library can be considered as a deposit of messages waiting for potential receivers that are also potential senders in a kind of angeletic Wirkungsgeschichte. The  tradition, in terms of "what the history has handed down to us" [Uberlieferung], is itself a phenomenon different from the one dealing with interpretation. What is a library? a lieu de passage. History (Geschichtlichkeit) is a messaging process (schicken).

I understand the Cartesian "monologism" in the platonic (Phaidros) and augustinian tradition as the dialogue of the soul with itself, i.e., with messages arriving and leaving the soul in a process of permanent selection. The soul is no less a lieu de passage as the library is. The split between sender and receiver is not only a Cartesian but already a Socratic and Christian, and particularly Ignatian one, with very different connotations in each historical context.

Thanks for bringing Blondel into the conversation. When I was studying philosophy with the Jesuits in Argentina (1968-1970) I got in contact with his thinking because my supervisor, Prof. Juan Carlos Scannone S.J., had written his PhD on Blondel (See my: Filosofía existenciaria y dialógica cristiana, 1970). The question of "the middle term," the mediator, is crucial for Blondel's christian-hegelian thought. Libraries are mediators. They deal with the scriptum est as missum est. There are two poles of human messaging, one concerns the situation in which all messages are considered as being addressed to me. The other situation concerns a sender who thinks that he has a message for humanity. Libraries are located in between these two poles. Sometimes they imagine that they are the place for all knowledge. They believe that they are or should be omniscient. At other times they believe that they should be a mediator for the right messages and only for the right messages. The Aristotelian middle (meson) is also, in this case, difficult to find.

Thank you for your contribution.



V Resisting Informational Hegemony


Culture Clash or Transformation? Some Thoughts Concerning the Onslaught of Market Economy on the Internet and its Retaliation

Thomas Hausmanninger


Your contribution brings me back to our conversations at the first ICIE symposium in Augsburg in 2001 as well as to the ICIE book series: the first volume on foundational issues of an ethics of the Internet (Netzethik, 2002), where we published a dialogue on ethics in a global environment (Ethik in der Globalität); the second one on youth protection (Handeln im Netz, 2003); the third on the digital divide (Vernetzt gespalten, 2004) with a trialogue between you, Rupert Scheule and me; the fourth one Localizing the Internet (2007) on Intercultural Information Ethics with the papers of the 2004 ICIE international symposium, and the fifth one on Messages and Messengers on angeletics as an approach to the phenomenology of communication (2011).

What was the Internet? A promise of change with regard to the hierarchic structure of 20th century mass media. The horizontal and distributed structure of the Internet offered an alternative and originated, ironically, in the US defence strategy. You describe accurately this process that began with the hope of the cyberspace "as a space of communicative freedom" expressed in the libertarian ideals of John Perry Barlow and Howard Rheingold as well as in the visions of Pierre Levy. Sherry Turkle began with a positive view of this media revolution. What is the Internet? The change from net illusion to "Net Delusion" (Morozov) is shared in the meanwhile by critical thinkers like Lawrence Lessig, Evgeny Morozov, and David Gerlernter, to mention just a few. Digital monopolies transform classical capitalism into a digital one based on a huge accumulation of data provided intentionally or unintentionally by the users. New forms of social amalgam originate, with positive and negative possibilities with regard to cooperation and subordination, creativity and oppression, inclusion and exclusion, hate and respect.

You highlight some positive aspects when you write: "The possibilities of virtual identity are still in use but it seems that through the amalgamation with RL an intensified intersection between personal face-to-face relationships and virtual connections has taken place. I take this as a sign that the internet has been seamlessly incorporated into the everyday lifeworld (to use the term of Edmund Husserl and phenomenological sociology). The net is no longer a disconnected realm of extra-normal validity, but rather embodies and represents the continuation of everyday life that offers alternative means of being."

I appreciate your reconstruction of the Habermasian theory of society and communication from an angeletic perspective in the digital age. This is an innovative approach also for me.

I agree with your caveat concerning neoliberalism: "The supposed automatic generation of beneficial effects through market economy and its functional laws leads neoliberal theory to throw off political frameworks and thus forget the crucial role of politics in Mandeville and Smith [...]". I share the hope in your conclusion: "Though market economy has always expressed the view that "the customer is always right" on its imaginary shop and office walls, it did not behave accordingly. [...] Now the customers have become evaluators of products and can retaliate on a broad and economically relevant scale. Cooperation could seize strategy — and thus open up possibilities of a real mutual steering of the economy where all those affected by the economy, the stakeholders in a broad sense, would guide the economic processes to real and universal public benefits. We then would witness a new, socially productive message in economy: go for co-operation, if you want to win. Our ecologically tormented planet and our societies torn by stratification and the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor could certainly use that transformation."

Thank you for your friendship and your longstanding support of ICIE and IRIE.



Magicians and Guerrillas: Transforming Time and Space.

Juliet Lodge and Daniel Nagel


Benjamin Constant, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche on truth and truthfulness: what an exciting conversation! In his answer to Constant, Kant writes (Of a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns) that there is no right to truth but only to one's own truthfulness ("der Mensch habe ein Recht auf seine eigene Wahrhaftigkeit (veracitas)" because the truth of a sentence is not dependent on the will of a human subject. The question is whether we have the moral duty to truthfulness independently of any situation or, as Kant says, only with regard to statements he cannot avoid, whether or not they could cause a damage ("in Aussagen, die er nicht umgehen kann: sie mag nun ihm selbst oder andern schaden"), "damage" ("nuit") being the concept used by Constant and that Kant rejects based on the argument that it is a matter of "injustice" ("Unrecht"). Constant writes in De réactions politiques (1797): "To tell the truth is therefore only duty with regard to those who have a right to know the truth. But nobody has a right to know the truth that harms others." ("Dire la vérité n'est donc un devoir qu'envers ceux qui ont droit à la vérité. Or nul homme n'a droit à la vérité qui nuit à autrui."). Kant also says that this unconditional duty applies "under all circumstances" ("in allen Verhältnissen"). I add: under all circumstances that we cannot avoid. The reason for this famous Kantian rigorism is the fact that human action (praxis) cannot have knowledge about incidental causes or chance, a form of causality that Aristotle calls apo tychesTyche is the goddess of fortune – in the second book of his Physics. Kant pays tribute to human contingency. We cannot dupe chance. But we can be cautious if we can foresee the probability of such situations without being a potential liar ("ein Lügner (in potentia)") trying to avoid them. This is a second-order solution in case it works.

We could broaden this discussion embracing the topic of parrhesia in ancient Greece addressed by Michel Foucault, or the tradition of indirect speech in the "Far East," and particularly the famous reservatio mentalis that is supposed to have been invented by the Jesuits and was attacked by Blaise Pascal. In fact, it was the canonist Martín de Azpilcueta, the "Doctor Navarrus," (1491-1586), who developed not only a monetarian theory but also a moral casuistry, that included the doctrine of mentalis restrictio. He influenced the Jesuit Leonardus Lessius (Lenaert Leys) (1554-1623), professor of moral theology at the Jesuit College in Leuven from 1585 to 1600. The Jesuits as champions of liberalism and conscious self-ownership? Wim Decock's paper Jesuit freedom of contract (Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis 77 (2009) 423-458) is worth reading in this context.

Maybe I come near to what I wanted to say at the workshop on ICT Ethics and Public Policy that took place in the Europe House, the EU Commission and European Parliament's UK Office in London – will this House still exist in one or two years? – in March 2011 with the provocative title Never enter your real data. I mentioned Nietzsche, Leo Strauss (Persecution and the Art of Writing), and Helen Nissenbaum's Privacy in context (2010) where the concept of "contextual integrity" plays a key role. Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum have published a book with the title Obfuscation. A User's Guide for Privacy and Protest (2015), a kind of guerrilla tactics for self-protection in the digital age. We discussed the concept of integrity that goes back to Aristotle's teleiotes, concerning the relation of parts to a whole. Integrity is an important ethical value in the field of corporate responsibility.

You write: "The spell of modern ICT has not only led to the world becoming both a smaller and, at the same time, an unthinkably bigger place but it has shaken the very foundations of how we lead our lives and who we are in the digital age. [...] We would suggest that the answer seems to lie somewhere between the extremes of a digital guerrilla and a magician in order to navigate safely and swim against the tides where necessary." These two extremes looking for a middle, in Aristotle's terms, are indeed a key ethical issue in our time. Digital guerrilla can become a frustrating issue as far is it is a tactic for individual and not a societal solution. Digital magicians might show us how to pull a rabbit out of a hat but such solutions are, eventually, illusory and deceptive.

This is the case with "the idea of digital code providing absolute certainty over claimed identities" which is "both portrayed as the holy grail of identification technologies and as a deception itself." It follows: "If the digital code cannot provide such certainty, can code provide insight into who and what we are above and beyond traditional definitions of being? Authenticating and verifying human identity through code is infinitely mutable and therefore infinitely open to deception. Yet, derived as possessing ontological potential, code, whether single or multi biometric is paraded as a symbol of certainty, as a token to be trusted speedily." What is the middle between guerrillas and magicians? Maybe lawyers, ethicists and IT experts working together with guerrillas and magicians can provide some advice, assuming that the quest on how "to navigate safely and swim against the tides where necessary" has been woken up.

Thank you for your friendship and for the opportunity to discuss these issues with you, Daniel, in the Acatech (National Academy of Science and Engineering) project A Culture of Privacy and Trust for the Internet (2011-2013) and with you, Juliet, particularly at the Biometrics Conference in London in 2014.



Gramsci, Golem, Google: a Marxist Dialog with Rafael Capurro's Intercultural Information Ethics

Marco Schneider


When you invited me to write a prologue to your book A Dialectics of Taste: Information, Music, and Politics (A Dialética do Gosto: Informação, música e política, Rio de Janeiro 2015. See: I was aware of the fascinating conversation we were starting. We have in common not only South America as cultural background but also the transformation of labor and capitalism in the digital era as a philosophical challenge. Your book helped me to think anew intercultural issues of information ethics from a Marxian perspective looking at the points of conflict between culture and the productive forces set free by digital capitalism. The new interactive and inclusive communication structure of the Internet began as a huge promise for new forms of work, societal and cultural development. Your analysis of the relation between information, music, and politics is based on an interpretation of the Marxian (originally Aristotelian) concepts of use value (Gebrauchswert) as taste (gusto) and of exchange value (Tauschwert) based on different forms of commodification of cultural products. This allows a critique of new forms of social and cultural exploitation and manipulation in the digital age.

You write: "The fact that, for the first time in human history, a wide variety of societies and cultures are living in a concrete, common and synchronic history poses new challenges to any claim of universality in our interconnected, interdependent world." This is a new situation in human history that "would not be possible without the current stage of development of digital technologies of information." The concept of Intercultural Information Ethics and, as you suggest, of Dialectical Intercultural Information Ethics are possible answers to this historical challenge. It is "the theme of our time" (El tema de nuestro tiempo, 1923) as José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) would say. It was his first philosophical book where he develops the concept of "vital reason" (razón vital) criticising the onesidedness of the concept of reason in rationalism and the blindness of total relativism and mono-perspectivism. Indeed, "we must be able to articulate hard philosophical reflection with precise empirical studies and actions (in Marxian terminology, this articulation is called praxis)."

Your approach "considers the contradictions between the universal (symbolic) and the particular (the imaginary) in light of the traditional contradiction between universal values and particular morals. Second, we should consider the contradictions between singular-concrete-living-individuals, groups or corporations and entire societies. Among these "groups," social classes deserve a special attention." And you follow Marx when your write that "the reduction of human subjects to objects, resulting from the universal exploitation of labor, in all its particular and singular forms, is ethically unsustainable. The corollary of this exploitation is violence, irrationality, the abortion of the individual's creative potentialities for self-development, for solidarity and well-being. This reduction can (or should) be concretely surpassed." This is, indeed, the heart of Marxian ethics that you now extend to our historical situation in the digital age.

Concerning the concept of culture, you "highlight the fact that the idea of culture as a monolithic, homogeneous, stable unity does not correspond to anything in reality. Each human group is characterised by divisions of gender, generation and labor, the latter supposedly resulting from the former, as well as from other factors such as wars and conquests (violence). Such divisions necessarily place each subgroup in a different perspective with regard to the unifying culture. Each of these perspectives frames the subgroup's particular (imaginary) universal (symbolic) horizon." From this perspective you criticize culture in a negative sense or culture as ideology, i.e., "as a set of hierarchic frames of worldviews and social life representations, explanations, opinions, values, sympathies and rejections (tastes), senses of reality and the like, that justify and legitimate class exploitation through religion, philosophy, the economic and social sciences, cinema, TV, journalism, Facebook, common sense (Schneider, 2015)." You ask: "What does the above supposition imply?" Your answer is: "The most desirable goal is a transcultural ethics, that is to say in dialectical logical terms, the concrete and dynamic universality of the unity of the diverse. To translate this into ethical terms, it represents the theoretical and practical conciliation between universal and particular ethical values, from where singular ethical actions would have more favorable conditions to take place."

Thank you for bringing me to Gramsci, Golem and Google! An intercultural information flow is needed in order to bridge the informational and not only the digital divide. It is an honor for me to be mentioned in the same breath with Gramsci. Thank you for your friendship.



From Culture Industry to Information Society: How Horkheimer and Adorno's Conception of the Culture Industry Can Help Us Examine Information Overload in the Capitalist Information Society

Shaked Spier


Your contribution ties in seamlessly with approaches by Christian Fuchs, Bernd Frohmann and Marco Schneider. You write: "One of the most noted problems of the Information Society, both on a societal and an individual level, is the phenomenon of information overload." This is paradoxical as you remark, since every human society needs information, particularly in a crisis situation but also in everyday life. This is the reason why I think that the difference between message and information is crucial. We can then speak about message overload that we call SPAM. But information being the result of a process of selection cannot then become a burden except in case there are too many messages that are considered as potentially relevant. This turns then into a plethora of selected relevant information and the problem arises about how all these parts belong to a whole: the whole of my life, my family, the company I work for, the society in which I live, or the world we share with all other human beings.

But it happens, as Karl Marx clearly and critically analyzed, that the flow (Zirkulation) of money in a capitalist system becomes apparently independent of the capitalists as if it had life of its own becoming a fetish. In the case of the present information society, the flow of capital is based on or is indeed in some cases identical with the flow of digital data: The more data I have the richer I am. Digital data become the currency of the information society. We can call it Big Data capitalism that manages algorithmically the transformation of big data into big capital, avoiding data overload. This leads to a situation of  informational alienation that you and others describe so well in which the "information society theory is a form of ideology." By the way, this can also be the case of a non-critical theory of what I call message society. Messaging capitalism is then a special form of societal oppression where the power is practiced through message control and surveillance leading to Kafkaesque scenarios.

In your words: "Consequently, the products – or rather, commodities – created in the production-processes that involve these productive forces are increasingly of an informational character; that is to say, many types of information – or rather, information-artifacts – in the capitalist information society are (regarded as) commodities or objects of consumption. As commodities, information-artifacts mask the economic character of the human relations of production; the social relations that are involved in the production of information-artifacts are not perceived as relations between individuals, but rather as economic relationships between money and commodities that are traded on the market. This is what Marx (1867) described as commodity fetishism."

How can this magic transformation of digital data become capital? Your analysis is exemplary particularly with regard to the difference between what you call "information-artifacts as commodities" and "information-artifacts as information. If we consider only the last kind or artifacts we would be idealist consumerism in Marxian terms. You write: "In a capitalist, profit-driven, and consumption oriented society, the concept of consumption of information-artifacts as commodities is different from the consumption of information-artifacts as information. That is to say, in contrast to the consumption of information(-artifacts as information) in terms of a mental process of selection, processing, and understanding or sense-making, the consumption of information(-artifacts as commodities) in a capitalist information society has a substantial dimension of acquisition, trade, collection, accumulation, possession, and exhibition. "What we believe we need" in the capitalist information society is shaped to a great extent by the – false, some may say – consumerist needs that are propagated by our social surrounding."

Your Apple quote: "[...] all the world’s websites in your hands; it’s videos, photos, more books than you could read in a lifetime" is indeed a clear example of potential message overload disguised as a huge apparently free gift for the consumer. This kind of voluntary self-exploitation (Han) based on promises of happiness is something that makes the difference to the capitalist society of the 19th and 20th centuries. Étienne de La Boétie (1530-1563), a close friend to Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), described the voluntary submission to tyrants in his essay De la servitude volontaire ou le Contr'un. He writes: "the first reason for voluntary servitude is custom" ("la premiere raison de la servitude volontaire c'es la coustume") (La Boétie, De la servitude volontaire, Gallimard 1993, p. 102). Information ethics is, in my perspective, a critical reflection on information moralities or customs.

Following your detailed analysis of Horkheimer and Adorno it is evident that we need a critical digital enlightenment different from what digital enlightenment sometimes is aiming at, namely to enlighten people just about the benefits of the digital revolution. We need a Dialektik der digitalen Aufklärung of which your contribution is an important part. I fully agree with your last sentence: "From my perspective, resistance to information overload is in many situations an act of resistance to (transnational informational) capitalism itself. It is vital."

Thank you for your friendship and for our frequent exchange of ideas in Berlin.



VI Futures: Information Education


Ethical and Legal Use of Information by University Students: The Core Content of a Training


Juan-Carlos Fernández-Molina and Enrique Muriel-Torrado


Information education is crucial for the future of societies in the digital age. Ethical and legal issues belong to the core of our discipline. This was for a long time not the case, as you know. Fifteen years ago, you, Juan-Carlos, and Félix Moya-Anegón, published a paper in the Revista Española de Documentación Científica (Perspectivas epistemológicas "humanas" en la documentación, 25, 3, 2002, pp. 241-253) about the chaotic discussion on different paradigms as if they were incommensurable while, in fact, they are less paradigms sensu stricto than perspectives on matter with we deal with in documentation. Your plea is for an integration of the methodological tradition of the social sciences with the one of the engineering sciences, joining what Fernanda Ribeiro and Armando Malheiro da Silva write in their contribution. This is the right way to go.

In this contribution you point to an important ethical and legal issue concerning the use of information by university students as users and producers of intellectual works, namely the copyright legislation and the ethical debate dealing with it. You write: "The use and creation of intellectual works on the part of university students has implications of a legal and of an ethical nature. Indeed, the frontier between these two realms can prove to be quite fuzzy. It is not always clear which uses of a work are permitted within the right of quotation, or how to discern plagiarism from a dishonourable or lazy practice that is not strictly illegal." This presupposes that we have lawyers and ethicists that are acquainted with our field. One more reason for integrating legal and ethical issues in our curricula so that we can make aware university students in other fields what we deal with in our discipline and why this is important for them too.

You refer to the societal issue of information literacy. In their paper Three Theoretical Perspectives on Information LiteracyA Consideration on the Concept of Information Literacy (in: International Review of Information Ethics, 2 (2004) 11): "Is information literacy "necessary for all"? Now we can answer this question in the following manner: It is impossible to conclude such without specifying the category, field, and level of the concept of information literacy in each situation. If we do not care about such matters, discussions will be confused and may lead to faulty conclusions." (p. 5). (Human IT, 11 (2012) 2, pp. 93-130) Louise Limberg, Olof Sundin, and Sanna Talja suggest to use the plural form instead. They write: "Three theoretical perspectives are presented that represent different understandings of information literacy; phenomenography, sociocultural theory and Foucauldian discourse analysis. According to all three theoretical lenses, information literacy is embedded in and shaped by as well as shaping the context in which it is embedded. In consequence, we propose the notion of information literacies in the plural." (p. 93). Already in 2004 the Japanese information scientist Tadashi Takenouchi wrote in his paper

This is in line with what you write about the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL): "Fifteen years after putting out its standards, the ACRL came out with a new version, in this case a denominated “framework,” in an attempt to update and adapt the standards to the rapidly changing higher education environment. The change of denomination — from standards to framework — reflects a shift in scope. The old closed list of standards with their corresponding learning outcomes and skills has been replaced by a flexible set of core concepts interconnected with multiple options for their implementation." On the other hand, you are right when you state: "Moral rights can differ from one country to another (Fernandez-Molina & Peis, 2011), but there are two recognized by any national law on copyright: paternity (or attribution) and integrity." This means that we have to teach university students in general and our students in particular, the complexity of ethical and legal issues that you analyze so well in your contribution. Your training program should be mandatory for university students.

Thank you for your contribution.



Reflections on Rafael Capurro's Thoughts in Education and Research of Information Science in Brazil.

Lena Vania Pinheiro


It is an honour and a great pleasure to read your contribution on how my thoughts on education and research in Information Science have helped Brazilian research institutions and scholars. The first sentence of your paper makes clear to the reader that we are not isolated and worldless subjectivities but owe to each other most of what we think as coming from our minds. You write: "In many fields the scholarly literature forms naturally around a core group of authors, often for reasons not always fully explicated. This influence ebbs and flows at different times and in different countries, but often there is a core group whose work finds a major place internationally, in many oeuvres." In his What does it mean to orient oneself in thinking? (1786) Kant writes: "The freedom to think is opposed first of all to civil compulsion. Of course it is said that the freedom to speak or to write could be taken from us by a superior power, but the freedom to think cannot be. Yet how much and how correctly would we think if we did not think as it were in community with others to whom we can communicate our thoughts, and who communicate theirs with us! Thus one can very well say that this external power which wrenches away people's freedom publicly to communicate their thoughts also takes from them the freedom to think – that single gem remaining to us in the midst of all the burdens of civil life, through which alone we can devise means of overcoming all the evils of our condition." In other words, freedom of communication, a core value of a democratic society, is linked with the freedom of the medium through which we communicate. Thinking is originally a social phenomenon.

I owe a great debt to Brazilian academic institutions, particularly IBICT, for giving me the opportunity to meet colleagues and students with whom I could share my thoughts and they  theirs, such as:

  • V Encontro Nacional de Pesquisa em Ciência da Informação, Belo Horizonte, December 10-12, 2003. 
  • III Colóquio Internacional de Metafísica, Natal, March 20-24, 2009.
  • I Simpósio Brasileiro de Ética da Informação organized by Gustavo Henrique de Araujo Freire, Universidade Federal de Paraíba, João Pessoa, March 18-19, 2010. 
  • Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Escola de Ciência da Informação Belo Horizonte, March 22,  2010.
  • IBICT (Instituto Brasileiro de Informação em Ciência e Tecnologia) e Programa de Pós-Graduação de Ciência da Informação da UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, March 24, 2010.
  • Universidade de São Paulo (USP), Escola de Comuniçaões e Artes e Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciência da Informação, São Paulo , March 25, 2010.
  • Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Marília: VII Encontro Internacional de Informação, Conhecimento e Ação, Marília, October 31 - November 11, 2011.
  • II Seminário Internacional de Informação para a Saúde. Fortaleza, May 21-23, 2012.
  • IBICT/UFRJ: Aula da disciplina Ética e Informação, Rio de Janeiro, November 21, 2014.
  • V Encontro Ulepicc 2014 (União Latina de Economia Política da Informação, da Comunicação e da Cultura): Comunicação, cultura, informação e democracia, Rio de Janeiro, November 28, 2014.
  • Universidade de Brasilia & IBICT: Palestra: “Teoria, Epistemologia e Interdisciplinaridade em Ciência da Informação” Brasilia, December 2, 2014.
  • Universidade de Campinas, Perspectivas Unicamp 50 ANOS. Mesa: "Impactos das Tecnologias da Informação na Filosofia, nas Artes e na Ciência", Campinas,, September 15, 2016.
  • IBICT: I Colóquio Teoria, Epistemologia e Interdisciplinaridade em Ciência da Informação, Rio de Janeiro, September 19, 2016.

I congratulate you for the research programs you are establishing.
Count on my support. Thank you for your friendship.

Content Selection in Undergraduate LIS Education.

Chaim Zins and Plácida L.V.A.C. Santos


You write: "The field of library and information science (LIS) is constantly changing due to the never-ending developments of new information technologies, which change the nature of the information professions." When I started studying Documentation at the Institute for Documentation (Lehrinstitut für Dokumentation) in Frankfurt am Main in 1972 one of the main topics was the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC). We had lectures on the "Prussian Instructions" (Preußische Instruktionen) used in German libraries for alphabetic cataloguing since 1890. Other topics were punch cards and punched tapes. During my training at the Center for Nuclear Documentation punched tapes were used for amendments in the nuclear bibliographic data base with the German input that was sent via magnetic tapes to INIS (International Nuclear Information System) whose home was the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. Data processing of the local input was done in the mainframe computer of the Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center.

Your research on the changes taking place in our field is an indispensable requisite for improving the academic curriculum. The former study Knowledge Map of Information Study which you, Chaim, invited me to participate, was sponsored by the Israel Science Foundation: I quote from the website: "It aimed at exploring the theoretical foundations of Information Science as well a developing a comprehensive, systematic, and scientifically valid knowledge map of the information science knowledge domain, and grounding it on a solid theoretical basis." The study included 54 leading scholars in the field of Information Science.

Your present study is different. You write: "While meeting colleagues they asked to replicate the study Knowledge Map of Information Science (Zins, 2007a, 2007b, 2007c, 2007d), which clarified the various conceptions of the field and mapped its main subfields; this time — in the context of LIS studies in Brazil. The idea was to formulate the basics of LIS education that are acceptable by all the institutions surveyed that offer a bachelor's degree." This is an interesting approach as it aims at doing this kind of  research in different cultural contexts. Let us hope that other colleagues follow your path and reflect locally on "content selection in undergraduate LIS education."

Thank you for sharing this research and for your friendship remembering when we all three met in 2011 at the "VII Encontro Internacional de Informação, Conhecimento e Ação" organized by the Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) in Marília.



The Train Has Left the Station: Chronicles of the African Network for Information Ethics and the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics.

Rachel Fischer, Johannes Britz and Coetzee Bester


This has been an exciting and successful journey since our first conference in 2007. We celebrate ten years in 2017. You take this opportunity for looking back when you write: "Indeed, the dream of realising an African society capable of researching an African perspective on information ethics has come to fruition." We should now look ahead – the next stations of our train. My suggestion is to organize an Africa Information Ethics Summit next year bringing together academics, artists, politicians and the IT industry in Africa in order to identify challenges and opportunities for Africans to freely reshape their identities in the digital age.

Thank you for your longstanding friendship and cooperation promoting Information Ethics in Africa.

Last update: September 17, 2017


Copyright © 2016 by Rafael Capurro, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. and international copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the author is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author.

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