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December 5, 2000

 

Special Metaphysical Issue

Just one article, and it's really just a pointer to an article! Why this must be your lucky day!

But a new, typically jumbo issue is in the works. Be afraid.

 

The Hyperlinked Metaphysics of the Web

I've posted a long-ish piece on my site that sums up a lot of what I've been thinking about.

Rather than running the entire thing in this issue, here are some brief re-expressions of it:

Theme: The article says the Web is altering the building-block concepts of our culture — things like space, time, self, and morality. Then it tries to draw the whole thing together in some namby-pamby, idealistic codswallop about the Web being architected on hope.

Synopsis: Our culture has had a container-based metaphysics: space and time are containers within which events occur, and things are only truly real if they're self-contained. The Web, on the other hand, presents us with a hyperlinked metaphysics. The Web only exists as a hyperlinked space, and Web pages are themselves really only on the Web if they are pointed to by other pages. Indeed, the Web only exists because a whole bunch of humans are interested in communicating with other humans. This means that the Web is built on people going beyond themselves, connecting with others. In this sense, the Web is based on transcendence, on being out of oneself, on going towards a something more, something beyond ourselves. This transcendence also characterizes the movement of spirit. The new Web metaphysics is fundamentally spiritual.

Table of Contents:

Introduction
The Web hasn't been hyped enough. It is changing our culture's basic concepts, our metaphysics.
1. Container Metaphysics
Our culture’s metaphysics is based on dividing the world into discrete objects. It's a container-based metaphysics. But this doesn't reflect our experience. For example:
Tools

Tools are only tools in a referential context. If truly self-contained, a tool wouldn't be a tool.

Language

Words are only words in a referential linguistic context.

Consciousness
Awareness is always of something beyond itself.
Societies
Self-contained individuals are only conceivable because fundamentally we're social.
2. Hyperlinked Things
The basics of the Web are hyperlinked, not self-contained. For instance:
Web pages

A page without links is a dead end on the Web.

Space

Web space isn't the container of all containers. It's held together by links.

Morality

Because Web space is hyperlinked, it’s fundamentally moral.

Time

Web time is non-sequential and shattered. It doesn't consist of bead-like moments.

3. The More of the Web
The something more we sense at times in our life is the basic movement of spirituality. And it is the basic movement of the metaphysics of the Web. But is there anything beyond this facile formal similarity?
Web selves
Geography builds strong selves, but at long last play may be injected straight into our deadly earnestness about our selves.
Metaphysical Optimism
As the Web becomes a new world that we take for granted, we will recognize that its geography is that of hope.

If you want to read the whole damn thing, it's at:

http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/metaphysics/index.html

You'll find a link on the site to a discussion board if you want to make fun of me in public.

If you like the article, why not send it to your friends? Answer: Because they'll resent you spamming them with stuff they don't care about. Other than that, I encourage you to participate in the JOHO "Tell a Friend" program that earns you points towards free travel, restaurant discounts, and relief from the embarrassment of anal itching.

 


Editorial Lint

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