Virtual and disembodied

The passage from orality to literacy was the passage from the acoustic to the visual. From the world of sounds to the world of images pointing beyond the things themselves – the finger pointing to the moon rather than the moon itself.

The finger is a material sign. Ink on paper is also material.

The passage from literacy to post-literacy is the passage from the material to the immaterial. The electronic then the digital ages signaled that bodies are no longer required for communication and interaction – at least not required in the traditional way – of sharing a material medium subject to the same laws as our own bodies were before writing and print outsourced the job.

We enjoy disembodied communication- it gives us the illusion we are everywhere and that we can be anything.

Virtuality is capability along the lines of virtue, not necessarily how things are, but how they should be. The medieval scholastic virtual is potentiality according to power, driven by an ethical engine. Our post-1950s virtuality is to be disembodied, not physically present, and nothing else.

We need to recapture the complexity of issues embodied in inherited concepts. Only then can we hope to address old as well as new challenges.

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