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Accepted Paper:

An Ontological Crisis: Transformations of Language in the Digital Age  
Lee Drummond (Center for Peripheral Studies)

Paper short abstract:

The essay proposes that new forms of individual self-expression made possible by the Internet such as Twitter and Tik Tok have precipitated an ontological crisis between those forms and an increasingly regulatory and censorial State.

Paper long abstract:

There is a famous passage early on in the Blue Book where Wittgenstein discusses the error involved in locating the activity of thinking. Does thinking (and by extension meaning) occur in the mind, in the movements of the larynx, in the writing hand? His answer, depending on the grammar of the statements assigning locality, is: all of the above. Imagining, speaking, writing are all implicated in the mercurial complex that produces meaning. It remains to inquire how new modes of thought expression, modes unknown to Wittgenstein, enter into the production of meaning – modes made possible by the Internet and its applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, Spotify. The essay advances a thesis: those new modes, which give unprecedented communicative access to individuals, pose a threat to the State and its regulatory power. A central government, with its legions of bureaucrats, lawyers, and courts now finds itself increasingly challenged by phenomena like Twitter and Tik Tok. An eighteen-year-old on Tik Tok can reach an audience many times larger than conventional, regulated fora such as cable news and national newspapers. As government regulations pile up, increasingly constraining the lives of individuals, those individuals find an avenue of self-expression – call it freedom – in a messaging app. As governments and their power of censorship pose an ever-greater threat to citizens, a yawning gulf develops between regulated and unregulated messaging. That gulf is an ontological crisis that is now transforming language and a language-bearing humanity.

Panel P20c
Digitalization and the Reconstitution of the Social and Political Realities of Human Being
  Session 1 Wednesday 8 June, 2022, -