Revisiting Ingarden’s Theoretical Biological Account of the Literary Work of Art: Is the Computer Game an ‘Organism’?

Horizon: Studies in Phenomenology 9, no. 2 (2020)

ABSTRACT: From his earliest published writings to his last, Roman Ingarden displayed an interest in theoretical biology and its efforts to clarify what distinguishes living organisms from other types of entities. However , many of his explorations of such issues are easily overlooked, because they don’t appear in works that are primarily ontological, metaphysical, or anthropological in nature but are “hidden” within his works on literary aesthetics, where Ingarden sought to define the nature of living organisms in order to compare literary works to such entities. This article undertakes a historical textual analysis that traces the evolution of Ingarden’s thought regarding the nature of the literary work of art as an organism-like entity and uncovers its links with the simultaneous development of his systems theory and its central concept of the “relatively isolated system”: for Ingarden, a literary work and an organism are each a systematically transforming, “living, ” functional-structural whole that comprises a system of hierarchically arranged and partially isolated (yet interdependent) elements whose harmonious interaction allows the literary work or organism to fulfill its chief function. Having completed that historical analysis, we test Ingarden’s assessment of works of art as organism-like entities in a novel context by investigating the organism-like qualities of the contemporary computer game; insofar as their AI-driven behavior displays a form of agency, such games might appear to be even more “alive” than traditional works of art. We show that Ingarden’s conceptual framework provides a useful tool for understanding the “organicity” of such games as works of art, despite the fact that they differ qualitatively from those art forms with which Ingarden was directly familiar.

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Ingarden’s Systems-Theoretical Philosophical Anthropology as a Tool for Analyzing the Technological Posthumanization of Persons and Societies

Ingarden’s Systems-Theoretical Philosophical Anthropology as a Tool for Analyzing the Technological Posthumanization of Persons and Societies (M. Gladden, 2020)

In In Roman Ingarden and His Times, edited by Dominika Czakon, Natalia Anna Michna, and Leszek Sosnowski, pp. 109-26 • Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka, 2020

ABSTRACT: While Roman Ingarden’s ontology and aesthetics have been widely studied, relatively little attention has been paid to his philosophical anthropology – despite the central role that it plays within his thought. Here we draw on the concept of the “relatively isolated system,” developed by Ingarden over more than three decades, in order to show how his philosophical model of the human being as a three-layered emergent whole can be understood as a particular application of his more generalized systems theory. Having reconstructed Ingarden’s systems-theoretical philosophical anthropology, it is argued that it provides a uniquely valuable methodological approach and tool for investigating those emerging processes of technological posthumanization that are diversifying and transforming human societies by expanding them to incorporate new types of non-human intelligent social actors (e.g., increasingly sophisticated social robots and AI) and “otherly” human beings (e.g., individuals whose capacities have been altered through neuroprosthetic augmentation). Conventional philosophical investigations that take as their starting point the status of human beings as biological, intentional, or moral beings often focus on the ways in which contemporary social robots and AI lack such status and thereby differ radically from human beings. However, by starting from the fact that all such entities are manifestations of relatively isolated systems, an Ingardenian systems-theoretical philosophical anthropology can highlight previously unappreciated similarities shared by the “naturally” human, otherly human, and non-human intelligent social beings expected to coexist within increasingly posthumanized societies.

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Utopian Confederation: Conspectus

Utopian Confederation: Conspectus (front cover)

Volume 01 in the Utopian Confederation Sourcebook series • ISBN 978-1-944373-83-2 • Mnemoclave, 2020 • 62 pages

SUMMARY: This book offers an introduction to the Utopian Confederation RPG series and the peaceful, prosperous, and high-tech future society that provides the setting for its adventures. In this world, the island-republic of Utopia isn’t an imaginary land; it’s a diplomatic, economic, techno-logical, and cultural trailblazer that has succeeded in unifying the world’s nations under a ban-ner of peaceful collaboration – thanks largely to the Utopian mindset that combines a strong rationality and pursuit of scientific knowledge with a social and political philosophy that’s grounded in a deep spirituality and theological sensitivity.

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The Self-Revelation and Cognition of VR-Facilitated Virtual Worlds: Towards a Phenomenology of Virtual Habitation

Three Axes of a VR-Facilitated Virtual World

AVANT: Trends in Interdisciplinary Studies 11, no. 2 (2020)

ABSTRACT: In this text it is argued that immersion in virtual reality (VR) with the aid of contemporary VR equipment may offer access to novel types of virtual worlds that differ qualitatively from the “real” world and from other types of fictional worlds. The text begins by (a) distinguishing between VR systems, virtual environments, and virtual worlds; (b) showing how the virtual worlds facilitated by VR systems resemble and differ from the “virtual worlds” created in one’s mind when, for example, reading a novel or watching a film; and (c) identifying necessary and optional elements of a VR-facilitated virtual world. Employing a phenomenological approach that draws on the thought of Ingarden and Norberg-Schulz, it is shown that a visitor to a VR-facilitated virtual world can (and frequently does) shift his or her conscious attention along three different “axes”. First, one’s attention can move “horizontally” between the media that disclose the virtual world through different senses. Second, one’s attention can shift “vertically” between the virtual world’s different ontological strata, including its layers of myriad atomic stimuli; distinguishable elements that possess spatiotemporal extension; assemblages of elements that have a context and relations but lack individual meaning; glimpses that build up a lattice of meaning and contribute to one’s knowledge of the world; and the virtual world envisioned as a coherent mentally concretized whole. Third, one’s attention can shift “interspatially” between the many different overlapping constituent spaces of the virtual world, including its perceptual, concrete, natural, built, identifiable, technological, emotional, social, economic, political, cultural, ecological, and possibility spaces. This triaxial phenomenological framework can shed new light on the rich and diverse ways in which VR-facilitated virtual worlds manifest themselves as emergent wholes constituted within human consciousness; also, it suggests approaches by which visitors might more proactively mentally explore and come to inhabit such virtual worlds.

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