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Philosophy After Nature

Mark B.N. Hansen

HansenPhotoMark B. N. Hansen is Professor of Literature and Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Duke University. Having studied Comparative and French Literature at New York University and the University of California, Hansen held a Fulbright Full Scholarship at the University of Konstanz, Germany, in 1990 and 1991. In 1994, he received his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of California. Hansen worked as Assistant Professor of English (tenure-track) at Southwest Texas State University (1994-1997) and at Princeton University (1997-2004). From 2005 to 2008, Hansen was Professor of English, Visual Arts and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. During this period, he published Bodies in Code. Interfaces in Digital Media, a study on the effects of the cyberspace on the civilization predicting an increasing virtualization of the human being, which won the Ars Electronica Book Prize in 2008. Recent Fellowships include the Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities at Stanford University and the Fulbright Research Grant for non-China Specialists.

Recent publications include:

Keynote “Entangled in Media, Towards a Speculative Phenomenology of Microtemporal Operations”, 4 September, 09:00h

In my talk, I shall explore the operation of media as (in Wolfgang Ernst’s felicitous phrase) “measuring media.”  To do so I shall expand Ernst’s distinction between media as cultural-historical narrative and media as technical operationality.  Specifically, I shall argue that this distinction, despite its origin in 19th century work on electricity and electromagnetism (and despite earlier anticipations), attains a special status in the wake of the revolution in quantum mechanics from the beginning of the 20th century.  Focusing on the evolving work of Niels Bohr, I shall explore the increasingly radical onto-epistemology of quantum mechanics with a particular focus on the absolute inaccessibility of quantum events.  Quantum physics constitutes the first situation where the real or “thing-in-itself” is not simply non-representable (as it is in Kantian and neo-Kantian approaches), but properly and radically unthinkable.  To explore quantum reality, according to Bohr (and here he is more radical than all of his fellow scientists, Einstein, Bohm, and even Heisenberg not excepted), requires us to invest in the “reality” of the operation of measurement, which produces a quantum phenomenon.  This latter differs from the philosophical concept of the phenomenon, in its development from Plato to Heidegger, in that it is not the phenomenon, the appearance or manifestation, of some underlying and hidden reality, but is reality itself.  For this reason, I dub the quantum phenomenon the “originary phenomenon.”  In my talk, I shall ask what it would take to develop a phenomenology on the basis of this account of the originary phenomenon.