Video, PodcastApril 12 2017

Post-Truth and New Realities: Algorithms, Alternative Facts, and Digital Ethics

Maurizio Ferraris, Martin Scherzinger

Databite No. 96

Sorbonne University, New York University’s Department of Media, Culture and Communication, and Data & Society Research Institute present “Post-Truth and New Realities: Algorithms, Alternative Facts, and Digital Ethics,” a talk featuring Maurizio Ferraris (University of Turin) and Martin Scherzinger (NYU).



Recent scandals around alternative facts, post-truth, and hacking have raised a constellation of questions regarding the intersection of digital tools, the construction or verification of reality, and issues of power and authorship. Such questions have been at the center of theoretical and literary discussions in continental philosophy and critical theory for some years, drawing from or pushing against post-structuralist assertions regarding the death of the author and the relativism of ontology. Today, these questions are articulated in the realm of techno-politics with a new urgency.

The talk is moderated by Jessica Feldman from New York University’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication.

Maurizio Ferraris is full Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin, where he is the President of the LabOnt – Laboratory for Ontology. He was Fellow of Käte-Hamburger Kolleg “Recht als Kultur” (Bonn) and Honorary Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies of South East Europe (Rijeka) and of the Internationales Zentrum Für Philosophie NRW. He has been Fellow of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America and of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung. He has also been Directeur d’études of the Collège International de Philosophie and Visiting Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris) as well as other European and American Universities. He is columnist for ‘La Repubblica’, the Director of ‘Rivista di Estetica’, of ‘Critique’, of ‘Círculo Hermenéutico editorial’ and of the ‘Revue francophone d’esthétique’.

He wrote more than fifty books that have been translated into several languages. The books that have appeared in English are: History of Hermeneutics (Humanities Press, 1996); A Taste for the Secret (with Jacques Derrida – Blackwell, 2001); Documentality or Why it is Necessary to Leave Traces (Fordham UP, 2012); Goodbye Kant! (SUNY UP, 2013); Where Are You? An Ontology of the Cell Phone (Fordham UP, 2014); Manifesto of New Realism (SUNY UP, 2014); Introduction to New Realism (Bloomsbury, 2014); Positive Realism (Zer0 Books, 2015).

Maurizio Ferraris has worked in the field of aesthetics, hermeneutics, and social ontology, attaching his name to the theory ofDocumentality and contemporary New Realism. New Realism, sharing significant similarities with Speculative Realism and Object Oriented Ontology, has been the subject of several debates and national and international conferences and has called for a series of publications that involve the concept of reality as a paradigm even in non-philosophical areas.

Martin Scherzinger works on sound, music, media and politics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a particular focus on music of Europe, Africa, and America, as well as global biographies of sound and other ephemera circulating in geographically-remote regions. The research includes the examination of links between political economy and digital sound technologies, poetics of copyright law in diverse sociotechnical environments, relations between aesthetics and censorship, sensory limits of mass-mediated music, mathematical geometries of musical time, histories of sound in philosophy, and the politics of biotechnification.

Jessica Feldman is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU. Her work cuts across the areas of social movement studies, networked cultures, sound studies, psychoanalysis & affect studies, new media production, and surveillance and privacy studies to consider the ways in which emerging communication technologies condition contemporary subjecthood and political activism. Her dissertation, Listening Intently: Towards a Critical Media Theory of Ethical Listening, argues that advances in the surveillance of cell phone conversations, decentralized mobile phone networks, and vocal affective monitoring software are changing the ways in which listening exerts power and frames social and political possibilities. Her doctoral work is supported in part by a fellowship from the National Science Foundation’s Information Security and Privacy Interdisciplinary Research and Education program. She is collaborating with a team of computer scientists from NYU’s engineering school to design a secure, decentralized “mesh” network for mobile devices, informed by her fieldwork with non-hierarchical social movements. More recently, she has been thinking and writing a bit about algorithmic governance, logic, and totalitarianism. Jessica’s background is in sound and new media art. She holds a BA in music from Columbia, and a MFA in Intermedia Art from Bard. She has taught sound art, physical computing, and interactive art at Temple University and The New School.