Does the medium of pen and paper allow for a greater intimacy than the keyboard? Is the distance between the author and the ‘written word’ somehow smaller than that of ‘typed words?’ In a lecture course on the Pre-Socratics, Martin Heidegger poses similar questions. The late German thinker suggests that the advent of the typewriter marks a clear transition towards a kind of ‘sign-less’ writing, a writing cut off and ‘concealed.’
But have such concerns become vastly outdated? Modern technology has prompted a new set of terms, a new comparison of ‘distance:’ the ‘typed’ versus the ‘cyber.’ The New York Times recently posted a ‘running debate’ on the positive and negative aspects of ‘E-books.’ The many perspectives offered especially focus on questions concerning the ability of E-books to meet the educational ‘needs’ of the ‘human brain.’
One wonders about the repercussions of such a ‘not-even-typed’ world. Have the books on our shelves already begun to bear the romantic idealism of love letters? Have we already begun to cherish the ‘time’ our friends and families spend to write an email, for at least it’s not a text message? Might Heidegger’s concern have, in fact, intensified, rather than slipped away? To read more, see this article in The New York Times.
Modality in Language,
Eric Swanson , University of Michigan,
Philosophy Compass 3/6