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  • From Analogue to Digital: Theorising the Transition

    Robert Hassan

    Chapter from the book: Hassan, R. 2020. The Condition of Digitality: A Post-Modern Marxism for the Practice of Digital Life.


    Drawing from philosophical anthropology, media studies and technology studies, this chapter starts developing the idea that humans are essentially analogue beings who have constructed an antithetical automated sphere wherein much of social-cultural, economic-political life now takes place. A feature of this section is to describe the ideology and practice of automation—not simply in the form of the growing ubiquity of robotics in life, but as an achieved aim of capitalist modernity. This is expressed through the instrumental goal, an historical imperative now realisable through digitality, of efficiency in production by the pervasive minimisation of human labour through automation. The resulting new context of human alienation from both technology and the natural environment—is here first signalled as the effect of the condition of digitality. Ranging widely from the dawn of cybernetics and the work of Norbert Wiener to the Macey conferences through to digital technology’s folding into the ‘military-industrial complex’ the author traces the path of society’s transition from analogue to digital and considers Arnold Gehlen’s reflections on ‘man’ and ‘technique’ and the ‘circle of action’ that unites the two. In the context of the allure of the ‘magical-digital’ is the prospect of a new cycle of reification. The resulting new context of human alienation from both technology and the natural environment—leads back to the concept of ‘alienation’ revived and rearticulated through the path-breaking new work of Rahel Jaeggi. Of primary importance in this age of digitality is not class, nor even capitalism, but digitality itself.

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    Hassan, R. 2020. From Analogue to Digital: Theorising the Transition. In: Hassan, R, The Condition of Digitality. London: University of Westminster Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.16997/book44.c

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    Published on Jan. 10, 2020