(un)common ground

a commonplace book

The Internet, Causality and Interiority

Thoughts are bigger than the things that deliver them. Our contraptions may shape our consciousness, but it is our consciousness that makes our credos, and we mostly live by those.

Adam Gopnik, “How the Internet Gets Inside Us,” The New Yorker, February 14, 2011

This in debunking the idea that the Internet destroys human interiority.

In one sense true, though the logic of Gopnik’s aphoristic statement may break down at a certain point. By “shape” I think he means something more akin to “frame” or merely “affect,” rather than “determine.” (Cf. an earlier line: “The peril isn’t that users lose their knowledge of the world. It’s that they can lose all sense of proportion.”) This would shore up the first obstacle to understanding, I think. The passage seems to imply that consciousness is prime and that technology is contingent or transitive. We bring our credos to technology, and while technology may shape them (frame/affect) them, it does not predetermine or predispose us. A compelling thought, with room for qualification and interrogation, I’d say.


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This entry was posted on August 21, 2015 by and tagged .
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