WMD — Weapons of Mass Discursion

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Name/Author Caption Quote Philosophical Category Subject
Adorno, Theodor W. Adorno's appeal to experience

thought which "does not decapitate itself" flows into the idea of a world where "not only extant suffering would be abolished but also suffering that is irrevocably past would be revoked." (p.403)

Ethics Dialectics
Benjamin, Walter Benjamin's Angelus Novis

"There is a painting by Klee called Angelus Novus. An angel is depicted there who looks as though he were about to distance himself from something which he is staring at. His eyes are opened wide, his mouth stands open and his wings are outstretched. The Angel of History must look just so. His face is turned towards the past. Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet. He would like to pause for a moment so fair [verweilen: a reference to Goethe’s Faust], to awaken the dead and to piece together what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise, it has caught itself up in his wings and is so strong that the Angel can no longer close them. The storm drives him irresistibly into the future, to which his back is turned, while the rubble-heap before him grows sky-high. That which we call progress, is this storm."

Historicism Historical Materialism
Adorno, Theodor W. Adorno—Aesthetic Theory

“The concept of art balks at being defined, for it is a historically changing constellation of moments.” (P.359)

Aesthetics Art
Plato Plato—poiesis—bringing what presences into appearance

"Every occasion for whatever passes over and goes forward into presencing from that which is not presencing is poiesis, is bringing-forth [Hervor-bringen]." [symposium: 205BC]

Aesthetics Poiesis (Making)
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—physis

"Physis also, the arising of something from out of itself, is a bringing-forth, poiisis. Physis is indeed poiesis in the highest sense. For what presences by means of physis has the bursting open belonging
to bringing-forth, e.g., the bursting of a blossom into bloom, in itself (en heautöi)."

Existentialism Poiesis (Making)
Gadamer, Hans-Georg Gadamer—on 'play'

"When we speak of play in reference to the experience of art, this means neither the orientation nor even the state of mind of the creator or of those enjoying the work of art, nor the freedom of a subjectivity engaged in play, but the mode of being of the work of art itself." (p.102)

Hermeneutics Play
Gadamer, Hans-Georg Gadamer—on aesthetic consciousness and the real

"conceiving aesthetic consciousness as something that confronts an object does not do justice to the real situation." (p.102)

Hermeneutics Real
Gadamer, Hans-Georg Gadamer—on 'play'

"Seriousness is not merely something that calls us away from play; rather, seriousness in playing is necessary to make the play wholly play" (p.103)

Hermeneutics Play
Gadamer, Hans-Georg Gadamer—work of art as experience

"Instead the work of art has its true being in the fact that it becomes an experience that changes the person who experiences" (p.103)

Hermeneutics Experience, Subject
Gadamer, Hans-Georg Gadamer—etymology of 'play'

"If we examine how the word "play" is used... In each case what is intended is to-and-fro movement that is not tied to any goal that would bring it to an end... rather, it renews itself in constant repetition... It is the game that is played—it is irrelevant whether or not there is a subject who plays it." (p.104)

Hermeneutics Play, Repetition
Gadamer, Hans-Georg Gadamer—on why we 'play'

"It is part of play that the movement is not only without goal or purpose but also without effort... The ease of play—which... refers phenomenologically only to the absence of strain—is experienced subjectively as relaxation. The structure of play absorbs the player into itself, and thus frees him from... the strain of existence. This is also seen in the spontaneous tendency to repetition."

Gadamer, Hans-Georg Gadamer—art = play = nature

"Inasmuch as nature is without purpose and intention, just as it is without exertion, it is a constantly self-renewing play, and can therefore appear as a model for art." (P. 105)

Existentialism, Hermeneutics
Gadamer, Hans-Georg Gadamer—Event, Presentation, Play

"The being of art cannot be defined as an object of an aesthetic consciousness because, on the contrary, the aesthetic attitude is more than it knows of itself. It is a part of the event of being that occurs in presentation, and belongs essentially to play as play." (p.115)

Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Time & precedence

"That which is earlier with regard to the arising that holds sway becomes manifest to us men only later. That which is primarily early shows itself only ultimately to men. Therefore, in the realm of thinking, a painstaking effort to think through still more primally what was primally thought is not the absurd wish to revive what is past, but rather the sober readiness to be astounded before the coming of what is early."

Historicism Historical Materialism, Time
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Ge-stell [Enframing]

"Enframing means the gathering together of that setting-upon which sets upon man, i.e., challenges him forth, to reveal the real, in the mode of ordering, as standing-reserve. Enframing means that way of revealing which holds sway in the essence of modern technology and which is itself nothing technological." (p.291)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Enframing (Ge-stell), Technology
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Nature

"Nature reports itself in some way or other that is identifiable through calculation and that it remains orderable as a system of information." (p.293)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Nature
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Ge-stell [Enframing]

"It is nothing technological, nothing on the order of a machine. It is the way in which the real reveals itself as standing-reserve. [it] does [not necessarily] happen exclusively in man, or decisively through man.

Enframing is the gathering together that belongs to that setting-upon which sets upon man and puts him in position to reveal the real, in the mode of ordering, as standing-reserve." (p.293)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Enframing (Ge-stell), Real, Technology
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Destining

"The essence of modern technology starts man upon the way of that revealing through which the real everywhere, more or less distinctly, becomes standing-reserve... We shall call that sending-that gathers which first starts man upon a way of revealing, destining. It is from out of this destining that the essence of all history is determined." (p.294)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Destining (predetermination), Poiesis (Making), Real, Time
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Freedom


"Freedom governs the open in the sense of the cleared and lighted up, i.e., of the revealed. It is to the happening of revealing, i.e., of truth, that freedom stands in the closest and most intimate kinship. All revealing belongs within a harboring and a concealing. But that which frees—the mystery—is concealed and always concealing itself... Freedom is that which conceals in a way that opens to light, in whose clearing there shimmers that veil that covers what comes to presence of all truth and lets the veil appear as what veils. Freedom is the realm of the destining that at any given time starts a revealing upon its way." (p.294/295)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Aletheia (Truth), Freedom, Poiesis (Making)
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Destining

"Since destining at any given time starts man on a way of revealing, man, thus under way, is continually approaching the brink of the possibility of pursuing and pushing forward nothing but what is revealed in ordering, and of deriving all his standards on this basis." (p.295)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Destining (predetermination), Poiesis (Making)
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Knowledge

"the other possibility is blocked, that man might be admitted more and sooner and ever more primally to the essence of that which is unconcealed and to its unconcealment, in order that he might experience as his essence his needed belonging to revealing." (p.295)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Knowledge, Utopia
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Unconcealing

"As soon as what is unconcealed no longer concerns man even as object, but does so, rather, exclusively as standing-reserve, and man in the midst of objectlessness is nothing but the orderer of the standing-reserve, then he comes to the very brink of a precipitous fall; that is, he comes to the point where he himself will have to be taken as standing-reserve. Meanwhile man, precisely as the one so threatened, exalts himself to the posture of lord of the earth. In this way the impression comes to prevail that everything man encounters exists only insofar as it is his construct. This illusion gives rise in turn to one final delusion: It seems as though man everywhere and always encounters only himself... In truth, however, precisely nowhere does man today any longer encounter himself, i.e., his essence." (p.296)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Poiesis (Making), Real
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Ge-stell [Enframing]

"Enframing conceals that revealing which, in the sense of poiesis, lets what presences come forth into appearance." (p.296)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Enframing (Ge-stell), Poiesis (Making)
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Ge-stell [Enframing]

"Thus the challenging Enframing not only conceals a former way of revealing, bringing-forth, but it conceals revealing itself and with it That wherein unconcealment, i.e., truth, comes to pass. 

Enframing blocks the shining-forth and holding-sway of truth." (p.297)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Aletheia (Truth), Enframing (Ge-stell), Poiesis (Making)
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—saving power

"If the essence of technology, Enframing, is the extreme danger… then the rule of Enframing cannot exhaust itself solely in blocking all lighting-up of every revealing, all appearing of truth. Rather, precisely the essence of technology must harbor in itself the growth of the saving power." (p.297)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Hope, Technology
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Enframing man

"The machines and apparatus are no more cases and kinds of Enframing than are the man at the switchboard and the engineer in the drafting room." (p.298)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Enframing (Ge-stell), Technology
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Revealing

"Revealing is that destining which, ever suddenly and inexplicably to all thinking, apportions itself into the revealing that brings forth and that also challenges, and which allots itself to man. The challenging revealing has its origin as a destining in bringing forth. But at the same time Enframing, in a way characteristic of a destining, blocks poises." (p.298)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Enframing (Ge-stell), Poiesis (Making), Technology
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Idea

"The Idea "house" displays what anything is that is fashioned as a house. Particular, real, and possible houses, in contrast, are changing and transitory derivatives of the Idea and thus belong to what does not endure." (p.299)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Idea
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Granting

"Only what is granted endures. That which endures primally out of the earliest beginning is what grants." (p.300)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Endurance
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Granting/Destining/Revealing

"Every destining of revealing comes to pass from out of a granting and as such a granting. For it is granting that first conveys to man that share in revealing which the coming-to-pass of revealing needs."

Existentialism, Phenomenology Destining (predetermination), Poiesis (Making)
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Granting = saving power

"The granting that sends in one way or another into revealing is as such the saving power. For the saving power lets man see and enter into the highest dignity of his essence. This dignity lies in keeping watch over the unconcealment—and with it, from the first, the concealment—of all coming to presence on this earth." (p.300)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Poiesis (Making), Salvation
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Enframing Dualism

"On the one hand, Enframing challenges forth into the frenziedness of ordering that blocks every view into the coming-to-pass of revealing and so radically endangers the relation to the essence of truth.
On the other hand, Enframing comes to pass for its part in the granting that lets man endure—as yet unexperienced, but perhaps more experienced in the future—that he may be the one who is needed and used for the safekeeping of the coming to presence of truth. Thus does the arising of the saving power appear." (p.301)

Ethics, Existentialism, Phenomenology Dialectics, Endurance, Enframing (Ge-stell), Technology
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—4 Causes

"For centuries philosophy has taught that there are four causes: (1) the causa materialis, the material, the matter out of which, for example, a silver chalice is made; (2) the causa formalis, the form, the shape into which the material enters; (3) the causa finalis, the end, for example, the sacrificial rite in relation to which the chalice required is determined as to its form and matter; (4) the causa efficiens, which brings about the effect that is the finished, actual chalice, in this instance, the silversmith."

Existentialism, Phenomenology Poiesis (Making), Technology
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Bringing Forth

"Through bringing-forth, the growing things of nature as well as whatever is completed through the crafts and the arts come at any given time to their appearance... This coming rests and moves freely within what we call revealing [aletheia]." (p.284)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Poiesis (Making)
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Challenging Forth

"The revealing that rules in modern technology is a challenging [Herausfordern], which puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy that can be extracted and stored as such." (p.286)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Poiesis (Making), Technology
Heidegger, Martin Heidegger—Standing Reserve

"Everywhere everything is ordered to stand by, to be immediately at hand, indeed to stand there just so that it may be on call for a further ordering." (p.288)

Existentialism, Phenomenology Organisation
Lyotard, Jean-François Lyotard—Communication


“A self does not amount to much, but no self is an island; each exists in a fabric of relations that is now more complex and mobile than ever before. Young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, a person is always located at “nodal points” of specific communication circuits, however tiny these may be.”
Postmodernism Communication, Language
Lyotard, Jean-François Lyotard—Language Games


“Or better: one is always located at a post through which various kinds of messages pass. No one, not even the least privileged among us, is ever entirely powerless over the messages that traverse and position him at the post of sender, addressee, or referent. One’s mobility in relation to these language game effects (language games, of course, are what this is all about) is tolerable, at least within certain limits (and the limits are vague); it is even solicited by regulatory mechanisms, and in particular by the self-adjustments the system undertakes in order to improve its performance.”
Postmodernism Communication, Language, Play, Technology
Harman, Graham Harman—Reviving vicarious causation


"Reviving the problem of causation means to break free of the epistemological deadlock and reawaken the metaphysical question of what relation means. Along with causation there is also the ‘vicarious’ part of the phrase, which indicates that relations never directly encounter the autonomous reality of their components."

Animism, Phenomenology Causation
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Merlot Ponty—Cybernetics and Operations

"Thinking "operationally" has become a sort of absolute artificialism, such as we see in the ideology of cybernetics, where human creations are derived from a natural information process, itself conceived on the model of human machines. If this kind of thinking were to extend its dominion over humanity and history; and if, ignoring what we know of them through contact and our own situations, it were to set out to construct them on the basis of a few abstract indices (as a decadent psychoanalysis and culturalism have done in the United States)—then, since the human being truly becomes the manipulandum he thinks he is, we enter into a cultural regimen in which there is neither truth nor falsehood concerning humanity and history, into a sleep, or nightmare from which there is no awakening."

Phenomenology Mathematics, Technology, Vision
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Merleau-Ponty—Vision


"Only the painter is entitled to look at everything without being obliged to appraise what he sees. For the painter, we might say, the watchwords of knowledge and action lose their meaning and force." 

Phenomenology Vision
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Merleau-Ponty—Embodiment

"We cannot imagine how a mind could paint. It is by lending his body to the world that the artist changes the world into paintings... that body which is an intertwining of vision and movement." 

Phenomenology Embodiment, Vision
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Merleau-Ponty—Embodiment + vision

"The visible world and the world of my motor projects are both total parts of the same Being. 

This extraordinary overlapping, which we never give enough thought to, forbids us to conceive of vision as an operation of thought that would set up before the mind a picture or a representation of the world, a world of immanence and of ideality. Immersed in the visible by his body, itself visible, the see-er does not appropriate what he sees; he merely approaches it by looking, he opens onto the world. And for its part, that world of which he is a part is not in itself, or matter."

Phenomenology Embodiment, Vision
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Merleau-Ponty—Play

"my body simultaneously sees and is seen. That which looks at all things can also look at itself and recognize, in what it sees, the "other side" of its power of looking."

Hermeneutics, Phenomenology Play, Vision
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Merleau-Ponty—Things and bodies


"Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it is one of them. It is caught in the fabric of the world, and its cohesion is that of a thing. But because it moves itself and sees, it holds things in a circle around itself. Things are an annex or prolongation of itself; they are incrusted in its flesh, they are part of its full definition; the world is made of the very stuff of the body."

Existentialism, Phenomenology Embodiment, Thing, Vision
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Merleau-Ponty—Painting


"Essence and existence, imaginary and real, visible and invisible—painting scrambles all our categories, spreading out before us its oneiric universe of carnal essences, actualized resemblances, mute meanings." 

Existentialism, Phenomenology Painting
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice Merleau-Ponty—Imaginary and vision


"For the imaginary is much nearer to, and much farther away from, the actual—nearer because it is in my body as a diagram of the life of the actual, with all its pulp and carnal obverse exposed to view for the first time... And the imaginary is much farther away from the actual because the painting is an analogue or likeness only according to the body; because it does not offer the mind an occasion to rethink the constitutive relations of things, but rather it offers the gaze traces of vision, from the inside, in order that it may espouse them;"

Phenomenology Imaginary, Vision
Schreibman, Susan Schreibman—Digital Artifacts & Liquid Architecture

“Digital artifacts are compound objects whose component parts are acted upon by the system. Some states of the object are invisible to humans but essential to the computer. Meaning typically does not reside in any one component, but is created only through a complex set of interactions (as in the TextArc example), what Marcos Novak calls a 'liquid architecture' or what San Segundo refers to as a 'representation of knowledge': the symbolization of productive and useful electronic information, encompassing syntaxes, semantics, notations, models, formats, and data structures (110).”

Digital Media Object, Technology
Schreibman, Susan Schreibman—Digital Objects' Characteristics

"Powers argues that the digital releases symbols, freeing them to become actors and agents. Intellectual structures can be acted upon, made visible through the operant."

Cybernetics, Digital Media Object, Technology
Schreibman, Susan Schreibman—Born Digital

"Increasingly, digital objects are not created as digital representations of material objects, but as original, possibly unique objects. The born digital takes many forms: some simulate aspects of the material world (virtual worlds such as MySpace, and Second Life), others are modeled on published formats (as Wikipedia is to print encyclopedias...). Digital art and literature bear some resemblances to their analogue predecessors, but the ease of integrating multimedia in digital works is breaking down disciplinary boundaries. What these new forms of electronic discourse have in common is that they exist only digitally."

Cybernetics, Digital Media Object, Technology
Harman, Graham Harman — Statement of claim

"My claim is that two entities influence one another only by meeting on the interior of a third, where thay exist side-by-side until something happens that allows them to interact."

Animism, Phenomenology Causation
Harman, Graham Harman — ready to hand

"To be ‘ready-to-hand’ does not mean to be useful in the narrow sense, but to withdraw into subterranean depths that other objects rely on despite never fully probing or sounding them."

Animism, Phenomenology Usefulness
Harman, Graham Harman — on Heidegger

"Our primary relationship with objects lies not in perceiving or theorizing about them, but simply in relying on them for some ulterior purpose."

Phenomenology Usefulness
Foucault, Michel Foucault — to know oneself

"One of the main moral obligations of any subject is to know oneself, to tell the truth about oneself, and to constitute oneself as an object of knowledge both both for other people and oneself."

Politics, Post-structuralism Aletheia (Truth), Knowledge
Harman, Graham Harman — How little we know.

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position within, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

Animism, Existentialism, Phenomenology Knowledge
Tristan Tzara Dada Manifesto —

"People think they can explain rationally, by means of thought, what they write. But it's very relative. Thought is a fine thing for philosophy, but it's relative. Psychoanalysis is a dangerous disease, it deadens man's anti-real inclinations and systematises the bourgeoisie. There is no ultimate Truth. Dialectics is an amusing machine that leads us (in banal fashion) to the opinions which we would have held in any case. Do people really think that, by the meticulous subtlety of logic, they have demonstrated the truth and established the accuracy of their opinions? Even if logic were confined by the senses it would still be an organic disease."

Skepticism Avant Garde
Whitelaw, Mitchell transmateriality

"If computing allows for an ‘incredibly dynamic, pliable set of techniques for manipulating the material environment’ (Whitelaw, 2009), then transmateriality suggests ‘the extension of transduction to an understanding of the material relations and transformations involved in a computing immersed in the material world’."

Cybernetics Technology
Whitelaw, Mitchell Transversality

"Transversality is a transformative mobility—for better or worse—through different systems (that can be at once technical, but also social, political, natural). It could be seen perhaps something of a conceptual or pragmatic choice (to think or act ‘transversally’). So it has something of an ethical dimension. However, it also makes an onto-genetic claim: to think or act transversally is to more effectively immerse ourselves in the kind of ongoing and real onto-genesis that is the world."

Cybernetics Technology