What is a digital object? (and I missed Hegel)

This is a presentation I gave in Paris for the First Web and Philosophy conference last month. I wanted to propose a new metaphysics for digital objects. Indeed, digital objects present to us something totally exceeds the understanding of objects in traditional metaphysics. In this presentation I ran through Aristotle, Hume, Kant and Husserl, where I understand as traditional metaphysics of objects, and Simondon and Heidegger where I identify as metaphysics of technical objects (yes, the question of object is very complicated for Heidegger), and I want to propose that digital objects demand a new understanding because of its peculiar nature (object, data, and network).

And I missed the name Hegel! 🙂 The excuse is because I didn’t have time to run through a slide on Hegel, but there is no exception for Hegel I have to say! There are not many writings addressing the question of object in Hegel, except one from Robert Stern called Hegel, Kant and the Structure of Sbjects, Cathrine Malabou’s The Future of Hegel: Plasticity, Temporality and Dialectic also touches on that. I agree with Stern’s proposal that Hegel is looking for a new structure apart from the Kantian or empiricists influenced understanding, and indeed Hegel made it clear in “The phenomenology of spirit” that he wants to reverse the relation between understanding and reason in Kant. In Kant, as we know that understanding (with its 12 categories) are the condition of possibility for a phenomenal experience, reason plays no role here, and we are not able to know the-thing-in-itself. In Hegel, speculative reason is the force that grasp object through the dialectical movement and unification of the in-and-for-itself. But I cannot subscribe to what Stern proposes of Hegel’s project is to produce the understanding of universal substance, since Hegel’s method is more or less a dialectical movement from the substance to the subject. But the Hegelian approach still falls short to paradigm that from the very beginning, the absolute of the object is already known at the moment it becomes the in-itself-for-consciousness, then object is again the question of consciousness…

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