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Alien Phenomenology, or What It's Like to Be a Thing (Posthumanities) Paperback – March 19, 2012
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"This book needs to be read by many different audiences since it is not only fascinating but also of considerable significance. As the task of thinking through things as actors in their own right according to Ian Bogost’s maxim ‘all things exist, yet they do not exist equally’ becomes a real intellectual project so the implications of this stance start to multiply. In turn, they begin to produce the outlines of a landscape in which things aren’t just are. Rather, they form an active cartography which is always and everywhere—an alien ontography." —Nigel Thrift, Vice Chancellor, University of Warwick
About the Author
Ian Bogost is professor of digital media at the Georgia Institute of Technology. His most recent book is How to Do Things with Videogames (Minnesota, 2011).
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Top Customer Reviews
Bogost grants all objects the same ontological status - as objects! And so demonstrates the ridiculousness of presumptive, self serving definitions. The book is a deliberately profuse bricolage, a random pile of gewgaws like the lists of things he fetishizes and pretends have nothing to do with him or his particular social environment and political context or personality. He is rife and undisciplined in his own speculations, going wherever his objects [whatever they are] take him; one moment apparently siding with things, the next abusing them as dumb, but always as a winking paraphrase of someone else he has skimmed and taken on board perversely. He evidences philosophers like CP Snow in a parody of appealing to authority to justify what he's saying. What he's actually saying doesn't matter because, `Things are independent from their constitutive parts while remaining dependent on them.Read more ›
What drew me to this book was the idea of addressing the problems that will be posed by artificial intelligence in the (surely) not too distant future, specifically how we might construct a sense of meaning such that AI beings could be regarded on the same level as their human counterparts. I found what I was looking for in this book, albeit indirectly as Bogost doesn't touch on the subject of AI at all. Perhaps more correctly, he instead focuses on the much lower-fidelity objects of our universe: houses, cameras, the microchips of the Atari, etc.Read more ›
Enough of the other reviewers here have talked about the chapter on what Bogost calls 'carpentry,' and with good reason, as it's the highlight of the book. However, I want to highlight the chapter on 'metaphorism' as well--it's equally valuable and is in fact the concept that makes philosophical carpentry possible. As Bogost puts it, metaphorism is the deployment of "metaphor itself as a way to grasp alien objects' perception of one another." Perception IS metaphor, and this concept leads into a six-page section probing an intersection of ethics and OOO. Does an automobile engine "have a moral imperative to explode distilled hydrocarbons? Does it do violence on them? Does it instead express ardor, the loving heat of friendship or passion?" This may seem like anthropomorphism or panpsychism, but Bogost defends himself well against those claims. Where panpsychism emphasizes how objects are similar to humans, Bogost's phenomenology is interested in emphasizes their differences--hence the 'alien' descriptor.
Beyond all that, the book is a joy to read. The language never veers into that intentionally obscure academic style, yet retains intellectual value (shocking, I know). But beyond mere accessibility, the prose is beautiful. Opening the book at random and skimming a page, I'm treated to a passage about philosophical speculation as a concrete, pragmatic activity, concluding: "The result is something particular whose branches bristle into the canopy of the conceptual."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some splendid ideas and proposals to think more concretely about Object Oriented Ontology. That a computer guy is doing this work is apropos of our time and really the flip side of... Read morePublished 6 months ago by R. Burnier
From Husserl to tv series... I don't have anything against making odd connections. but at the end is so pretentiously academic, and not really compelling. Read morePublished 17 months ago by GUSTAVO PRADO RGUEZ
I'm a big fan of Bogost's work with procedural rhetoric, and I likewise do my own work with the idea of "things" having agency, but I think sometimes he's a little too... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Phill Alexander
In Alien Phenomenology, Bogost creatively and insightfully provides a handful of applications of the bourgeoning field of continental philosophy that has gone under the moniker... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Patrick Whitehead
This is an extremely well written book about looking at things from an entirely different perspective. However, that perspective is totally uninteresting. Read morePublished on January 19, 2014 by JB
This book stays in the four-star category because the writing is interesting (although it tastes like cigarettes, unfortunately: that's what I say when there are a few cigarette... Read morePublished on April 11, 2013 by N. Coppedge
Even if you have no interest in OOO, the chapter on carpentry is inspiring and essential for anyone practicing in philosophy or art (or the culinary arts, or engineering, or... Read morePublished on April 29, 2012 by Amazon Customer
I read this on a flight from Portland to Amsterdam. It was either that or watch Jurassic Park 3. I'm glad I read it because Jurassic Park 3 isn't even in 3D.Published on April 29, 2012 by Carlton T. Honeycutt
This book probably will succeed as a vehicle for advancing the author's career towards a tenured academic position and generating discussion within the inbred, semiotically closed... Read morePublished on April 28, 2012 by GMcK-Cypress