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We Need to Talk About Heidegger

Essays Situating Martin Heidegger in Contemporary Media Studies

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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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A Decisive Mediation: Heidegger, Media Studies, and Ethics*

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When it comes to the ways in which media studies intersects with Heidegger’s philosophical work, two crucial problems cannot be overlooked: the definition of media and Heidegger himself. The former is a notoriously fuzzy concept, while the latter was infamously involved with Nazism and anti-Semitism. This chapter opens a path to addressing those problems. This path exposes not a solution, but instead highlights the issue of how we are for one another, and the care that is consequently required from and for us.

In the first part of this chapter, I expand on the two problems initially identified—media and Heidegger—and provide them with contextual background. I cast the problem of defining “media” and “media studies” as an epistemological one. In doing so, I show how one common way to borrow from Heidegger in media studies is to reference modern communication technologies. Since this is a relatively recent and rather specialized extension of the idea of medium, I argue Heidegger’s influence in the nascent field of media studies is neither straightforward nor clearly established. Turning more specifically to Heidegger’s own prejudices, I outline the well-documented and more complicated problem of his involvement with Nazism and anti-Semitism. I cast this problem as a political one. While some have argued that Heidegger’s distorted political views contaminated all his work, I suggest that this is no reason for media studies to steer away from it. Going back to the emergence of the fields of communication and media studies,...

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