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1. Calculation, being based on natural numbers and the act of counting, is a method for dealing with concrete phenomena in an abstract form as clear and distinct quantities. The Renaissance brought about a shift in mathematics from the contemplation of eternal forms to practical applications. Thus techniques had to be invented to integrate the gaps between the distinct quantities in order to grasp the res extensa – the material world. The coexistence of mathematical techniques, such as analytic geometry and differential calculus, with alphabetical code in mass communications had significant cultural effects, such as mechanization and the Industrial Revolution, as well as the development of historical ideologies. As a backlash from the mechanization of calculation itself, a new anthropology emerged based on post-historical consciousness (programmatic thought), in place of the previously dominant historical consciousness (causal thought).

2. In communication, calculation is codification in the form of clear and distinct symbols (or points) which are synthesized (computed) in order to produce meaning. Meaning, therefore, occurs in the relations between quantities as scatterings of possibilities. Vilém Flusser describes this zero-dimensional code as a further step in the human being’s abstraction from the concrete world, which gradually supersedes the one-dimensional linear code of writing. The ability to compute and realize possibilities accounts for the new concreteness of technical imagination – a cultural paradigm shift from abstraction to concretion.

3. Vilém Flusser ascribes important phenomenological significance to this new codication, arguing that it promotes relational logic and transforms individuals into fields of relation. However, as Flusser argues using informatics, it also yields the danger of automated information production through the program, which displays a tendency toward entropy. In the post-historical model of information production the ultimate freedom, therefore, lies in subverting the program to realize intentionally highly improbable outcomes.

Original article by Monika Vrečar in Flusseriana

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calculate.txt · Last modified: 2023/04/13 17:35 by steffi_winkler