dear Iain (sorry, I forgot one 'i' last time, I was spelling it 'Aian' is
this the right spelling?)
you want to know more about the background of my questions concerning stable
My colleague Prof. Klaus Kornwachs, who teaches Philosophy of Technology at
the University of Cottbus (in Germany, near the polish boarder, a very young
university...), who organized two years ago an interdisciplinary conference
on the concept of information (published at springer verlag) is organizing
another conference about ' Wissen fuer die Zukunft' (Knowledge for the
future) in March 97. He asked me to collaborate and he sent me some papers
on what is supposed to be the subject matter of our discussions. He refers
to the Internat. High-Level Radioactive Waste Management Conference in Las
Vegas on April 96 where the problem of stable knowledge was discussed.
Further he poses questions such as;
1) what knowledge should be stored or deleted?
2) what knowledge should be transferred?
3) which speach acts should be done within the process of transmission?
4) are we obliged to transmit knowledge to future generation?
5) what kind of obligation is it?
6) what kind of technologies do we need for the transmission?
7) what are the possible (negative) side effects?
8) how is semantic stability in the case of knowledge transmission possible?
He talks about the consequences of our technological action (atomic energy,
biotechnology) that is supposed to be in a time scale of at least 1000
Well I wrote an abstract in German with the title: Bestaendiges Wissen? Von
der menschlichen Unanstaendgikeit und von der An-staendigkeit des Wissens
(Stable Knowledge? About human indecency and about the unstableness of
knowledge). I play with the German words: staendig (stable) and unanstaendig
(indecent) and an-staedig (un-stable). I want to say, that asking the
question for knowldge stability within the horizon of nuclear waste
technology is an indecent question, as we should ask first for the indeceny
of such kind of technology that gives rise to such a question.. But, as I
argue, the question itself concerning knowledge stability is indeed a very
decent question as it is the question of Western metaphysics. I proceed
saying that this question considers the unstableness of knowledge as
something to be avoided or eliminated (from Plato, over Descartes, until
Kant and Hegel etc.) and that we should be prepare to ask for the 'essence'
(in Heideggers verbal use of this word) of knowledge by looking at the
dimension of retreat ('lethe') possibilitating every stability (well I am
not using this kind of Heideggerian wording, of course!...). So our 'Sorge'
(in the sense of Care for Knowlege, similar to the epimeleia heautou cf.
Socrates' Foucault...) should be for non-knowledge (there was an interesting
conference at the Unesco in Paris last year, about what we do not know).
Well I am of course using here some of Heidegger's and Michael's (Eldred)
ideas on 'staendigkeit'. I think (I wish!) this to be the object of a deeper
discussion. I know I am using a moral undertone (decency etc.).
Michael E. has made the difference between permanence vs. duration. I think
the discussion will during the conference will deal with both aspects: how
far (and in what ways) is knowledge permanent and how far and in what ways
is it possible to stabilize permanent knowledge for instance for the next
1000 years so that our fellow human beings can know about the shit we
produced in the 20th century...
This question is particularly interesting when we are considering the new
forms of knowledge with regard to the stability or better instability of
the electronic medium. How is this medium changing the nature (wesen) of
knowledge and therefore also our own 'wesen' (and the 'wesen' of future
generations)? I think we have to consider three dimensions: the hermeneutic
dimension concerning the problem of understanding within changing horizons,
the semiotic dimension concerning the signs and there references and the
mediatic (can I say it this way?) dimension concerning the 'substance'
where we in-scribe our messages.
Michael's 'book' 'kaum staendig noch' (http://www.webcom/artefact
) and his
answer to my question concerning his ideas on 'enclicity' give me some paths
of thinking. One important think is, I believe, how can be open to
instability (to 'casualia et fortuita' would Thomas Aquinas say) as far as
this opennes is something that possibilitates another kind of dwelling on
earth as our metaphysical dwelling has been until now (and is trying to be
for the next millenium!). Is the in-formation the final way in which we put
knowledge into stability ready for storage and transmission? I know
Heidegger was thinking this way as he distinguished language as information
>from language as poetry. But maybe, the form of in-formation is extremely
unstable! Maybe this kind of 'Gestell' (the Information-Gestell' as I call
it) is really ' ein Aufblitzen des Ereignisses' as Heidegger says, i.e.
something that looks prima facie like a stable structure but that is fact
very an-staendig! or 'kaum staendig noch'!
This has something to, I believe, with the question of causality. But this
would be another matter, that I cannot submit to a discussion now.
So Iain, this is the background of my question! Please excuse me if I cannot
give you a prompt answer in case you would like to continue the dialogue: I
am spending two weeks vacations (begin: next friday) in la bella italia (at
the Monte Argentario in the peninsula of Orbetello, Tuscany) and - I take no
Thanks to Marta Frascati: tantissime grazie per la sua attenzione sulla
referenza al nuovo libro de Vattimo. Vado vedere si lo puo trovare in
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