Philosophy of Information module (PI41022)

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This module explores a range of highly topical philosophical questions raised by the fast-paced development of information technologies and their impact on our lives in contemporary society. We are now living in an 'information age' in which we are spending more and more time online and engaging in digital environments. Our economy, the workplace, entertainment, our sense of ourselves and our interactions with others are all increasingly being shaped by information technologies, including variously interlinked forms such as computers, artificial intelligence, the Internet, social media, and big data. How should we understand these profound changes and how can we think about them in a critically informed way? Should we fear and resist these new technologies, or embrace them as potentially liberating and transformative? Such questions are investigated by the exciting new area known as Philosophy of Information.

This module provides an introduction to Philosophy of Information from a variety of perspectives. It explores the critical work on information technology we find in phenomenological philosophers such as Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Virilio and in poststructuralists such as Lyotard, Baudrillard, and Deleuze. Such philosophers tend to emphasise the dangers that such technologies and the idea of information as a model of meaning pose to human life. The module also covers more positive approaches to information in philosophers such as Simondon and Ruyer, whose important works are only now being rediscovered. It looks at the cyborg feminist philosophy of Haraway, and the analytic approach to philosophy of information in the works of Floridi. The module will examine the implications of such approaches for a variety of philosophical topics, including issues of politics, art and aesthetics, the self, and the meaningfulness of human existence in the information society.