Rethinking the Human Condition in a Hyperconnected Era

Lecture by Nicole Dewandre

The digital transition brings us to a point where it is critical to unveil the shortcomings of the excessive centrality of the notions of control and transparency  in knowledge and in action. Omniscience and omnipotence, if pushed too far, crowd out any sense of freedom, purpose and meaning, even if it is in the name of the best intentions. Hannah Arendt’s notions of natality and plurality, by anchoring human freedom in beginnings rather than in sovereignty, provide grounding for revisiting the human condition in a hyperconnected era and approaching the related ethical issues with modesty, confidence and amor mundi. This operation, that we could call “arendtian axiomatic reset” allows reclaiming distinctions such as the one between public and private or the one between agents, artifacts and nature. Recognising and acknowledging plurality is of critical importance in these days where policy making seems to be lost in an endless quest of deceptive control and transparency. It is also of critical importance to counter the hegemony of the metaphors of the invisible hand, market interactions, or competition by which we frame interactions and which are all in denial of plurality. That renewed perspective opens a space to shape a digital literacy, which can enable flourishing life experiences in a hyperconnected era. Finally, reclaiming plurality leads to highlighting the fact that attention is much more than “the currency of the internet” or a commodity or an asset: it is at the core of human dignity and integrity, and needs to be protected and cherished, as it is the fluid that makes plurality at all possible.

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