Philosophical research on digitalization

  • Prof. Dr. Matthias Kettner
    Universität Witten/Herdecke
  • Prof. Dr. Susanne Hahn
    Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf
  • Prof. Dr. Rainer Adolphi
    Technische Universität Berlin
  • Associated members:
    Prof. Dr. Petra Gehring, Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald, Dr. Kai Denker, Prof. em. Christoph Hubig
Philosophical research on digitalization

Adopting the perspective of cultural, social, and technological philosophy, the working group sees digitalization first and foremost as an abundance of cultural processes, thereby avoiding a narrow technocentric focus from the outset. While digital-cultural processes may well have specific digital-technological preconditions and foundations, they only attain their full reality in our practices of action and experience, i.e. where those technical preconditions and foundations are first filled with meaning and significance: in the entire breadth of all practices that make up our cultural lifeworld, change the power to act that people and non-personal agents have, and shift the scope of possible ways of life. Changes in social and cultural processes that manifest themselves in digitalization are by no means reduced to “networking”, but appear in relevant practices as a series (still to be clarified) of complex characteristics (such as placelessness or decontextualizability, functional representability, actor-anonymizability, universal archivability, medial flatness, scalable granularity, universal emulatability and simulatability, unlimited reproducibility and reformatability). Interwoven with, but practically and analytically detachable from, the new that is invisibly becoming reality are the corresponding discourses and their shifts, i.e. the modes of understanding and non-understanding, the terms for the incomprehensible, the change of vocabularies.

A first step towards this approach was already taken at CAIS in July 2019 in the workshop “Philosophical discussion on digitalization”. Tailoring the planned working group to philosophers is not meant to exclude other disciplines; rather, it is a necessary step to increase the value of philosophical contributions in the interplay with all sciences that explore changes to digital culture in different ways. This methodological reflection also justifies naming the working group “Philosophical research on digitalization”.


Final report