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

Ian Bogost

Publication Year: 2012

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.

In Alien 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 that all beings 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 things as things, 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.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Cover

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pp. 1-7

Contents

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pp. vii-9

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1. Alien Phenomenology

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pp. 1-34

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....

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2. Ontography: Revealing the Rich Variety of Being

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pp. 35-59

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...

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3. Metaphorism: Speculating about the Unknowable Inner Lives of Units

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pp. 61-84

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 of such interactions...

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4. Carpentry: Constructing Artifacts That Do Philosophy

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pp. 85-111

As I drove home one sultry July afternoon, I listened to Tony Cox host an episode of National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation. The segment was titled “Writers Reveal Why They Write,” a subject inspired by a Publishers Weekly series in which authors mused about...

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5. Wonder

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pp. 113-134

In his blog-turned-best-selling-humor-book Stuff 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...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 135-136

For their support, guidance, and inspiration: Graham Harman, Levi Bryant, and Tim Morton. For feedback, helpful conversations, and new directions: Michael Austin, Katherine Behar, Jeffrey Bell, Nathan Brown, Hugh Crawford, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Patricia...

Notes

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pp. 137-145

Bibliography

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pp. 147-153

Index [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 155-166


E-ISBN-13: 9780816681426
E-ISBN-10: 0816681422
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816678983

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Posthumanities