Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing

Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing

IAN BOGOST
Series: Posthumanities
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 168
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsdq9
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  • Book Info
    Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing
    Book Description:

    Humanity has sat at the center of philosophical thinking for too long. The recent advent of environmental philosophy and posthuman studies has widened our scope of inquiry to include ecosystems, animals, and artificial intelligence. Yet the vast majority of the stuff in our universe, and even in our lives, remains beyond serious philosophical concern.

    InAlien Phenomenology, or What It's Like to Be a Thing, Ian Bogost develops an object-oriented ontology that puts things at the center of being-a philosophy in which nothing exists any more or less than anything else, in which humans are elements but not the sole or even primary elements of philosophical interest. And unlike experimental phenomenology or the philosophy of technology, Bogost's alien phenomenology takes for granted thatallbeings interact with and perceive one another. This experience, however, withdraws from human comprehension and becomes accessible only through a speculative philosophy based on metaphor.

    Providing a new approach for understanding the experience of thingsasthings, Bogost also calls on philosophers to rethink their craft. Drawing on his own background as a videogame designer, Bogost encourages professional thinkers to become makers as well, engineers who construct things as much as they think and write about them.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8142-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. 1 ALIEN PHENOMENOLOGY
    (pp. 1-34)

    New Mexico offered me a childhood of weird objects.

    When the weather is clear, the Sandia Mountains to the east of Albuquerque drip the juices of their namesake fruit for a spell each evening, ripening quickly until the twilight devours them. At the range’s southern foothill, apple trees take the place of watermelons. There, in the hollowed-out Manzano Mountain, the U.S. Armed Forces Special Weapons Command once stashed the nation’s largest domestic nuclear weapons repository, some 2,450 warheads as of the turn of the millennium.¹

    One hundred miles due south from the Sandias rests Trinity Site. There, in the summer...

  4. 2 ONTOGRAPHY Revealing the Rich Variety of Being
    (pp. 35-60)

    King Aethelberht II, the ruler of East Anglia, was executed by Offra of Mercia in 794. There was a time when many held the opinion that Offra led an early unification of England, and indeed Offra did contribute to the expansion of Mercia from the Trent River valley to much of the area now known as the English Midlands. More recently, Offra’s invasions have been explained in more straightforward terms: as megalomania and bloodlust. Given this context, Aethelberht’s later canonization was justified by martyrdom: he had visited the court of Offra at Sutton Walls in Herefordshire in an earnest attempt...

  5. 3 METAPHORISM Speculating about the Unknowable Inner Lives of Units
    (pp. 61-84)

    Meanwhile in mind, consider for a moment some of the things that are happening somewhere, right now:

    Smoke vacuums through the valve, grommet, and hose of a hookah and enters a pursed mouth.

    The dog teeth of a collar engage a gear against the layshaft coupling of a transmission assembly.

    The soluble cartilage of a chicken neck decocts from the bone into the stock of a consommé.

    These and other interactions between objects constitute different moves in the material world. From our human perspective, they correspond with actions we know well: smoking, shifting, or cooking. Traditionally, a human’s first-person experience...

  6. 4 CARPENTRY Constructing Artifacts That Do Philosophy
    (pp. 85-112)

    As I drove home one sultry July afternoon, I listened to Tony Cox host an episode of National Public Radio’sTalk of the Nation. The segment was titled “Writers Reveal Why They Write,” a subject inspired by aPublishers Weeklyseries in which authors mused about their craft. “Writing,” Cox cooed slowly in his introduction, “is a process that can be very hard work. Today, we’re going to talk about writing and why we write.”¹ Two guests joined the program: the memoir author Ralph Eubanks (The House at the End of the Road) and the short-story writer Siobhan Fallon (You...

  7. 5 WONDER
    (pp. 113-134)

    In his blog-turned-best-selling-humor-bookStuff White People Like, Christian Lander explains that, whenever possible, white people prefer not to own a television. They do so, says Lander, precisely so they can report indignantly about their refusal to own a set when water cooler conversation turns to last night’sLostorAmerican Idol

    Despite the white person’s natural aversion to television—and here it is probably important to clarify that when Lander says “white people,” he really means the liberal, upper-middle-class, lattéswilling, Volvo-driving variety—there is one type of program they do like, the kind that is “critically acclaimed, low-rated, shown on...

  8. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 135-136)
  9. NOTES
    (pp. 137-146)
  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 147-154)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 155-166)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 167-168)
  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 169-176)