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We Need to Talk About Heidegger

Essays Situating Martin Heidegger in Contemporary Media Studies


Edited By Justin Michael Battin and German A. Duarte

This collection assembles a number of chapters engaging different strands of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy in order to explore issues relevant to contemporary media studies. Following the release of Heidegger’s controversial Black Notebooks and the subsequent calls to abandon the philosopher, this book seeks to demonstrate why Heidegger, rather than be pushed aside and shunned by media practitioners, ought to be embraced by and further incorporated into the discipline, as he offers unique and often innovative pathways to address, and ultimately understand, our daily engagements with media-related phenomena.

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Speaking the Unspeakable: Heidegger and Social Media’s ‘Mouseclick Solidarity’


1Introduction. The philosophical slug: philosophy doesn’t tweet well

There is a meme that I like to show my first-year students: it shows the philosopher Plato as in Raphael’s famous “School of Athens” painting in the Vatican in Rome, pointing skywards, one assumes to some higher truth. Only the meme shows Twitter’s little blue bird hovering above the philosopher’s trigger finger: it has taken the place of the higher truth Plato is pointing to. We can read this meme in two ways: on the one hand it points to the general reverence for social media dominating the public, as well as the academic imagination. Even the most mundane of businesses are asking their customers to “like” them on Facebook, politicians tweet passionately (if not always honestly)1, and since the Arab Spring there has been a flurry of research into just how much exactly social media have aided protest movements around the world (a point we will return to). But it is the other reading that I am interested in, for now: the juxtaposition of philosophy and social media discourse. To my mind, philosophy doesn’t tweet well.

Plato himself is the perfect example. None of Plato’s philosophical arguments, painstakingly pursued in lengthy dialogues between Socrates and one or more of his students, could have taken place within the confines of a social media app. Twitter, for one, only offers its users 140 characters per Tweet2, but Facebook and its contender sites are similarly designed to...

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