Body, environment, technics: An ethological approach to information

Loughnane, Christopher Joseph (2020) Body, environment, technics: An ethological approach to information. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In this thesis I describe an ethological approach to the study of information which moves from the traditional ethological binary of body + environment in creating a subjective world, called an Umwelt, to include a third element, technics. In moving from a dyadic to a triadic relationship, I show the fundamental interconnectedness of these three elements of being inthe- world in the specific grounding context of information and demonstrate how we form and interact with new environments through media, computing and digital technologies, thereby creating meaningful spaces for interactions and information sharing. I begin with an introductory discussion regarding ethology and information. I then examine the nature of our interconnected dwelling in environments through the ethological lens of Jacob von Uexküll’s notion of Umwelt, and the cognate fields of cybernetics, biosemiotics and cybersemiotics which he greatly influenced. I use this ethological lens in order to further explore ideas of space, place and dwelling in thinkers such as Heidegger, Westling and Ingold, whose notion of the ‘meshwork’ (2015) I repurpose for thinking through digital connection. I discuss phenomenological engagement, body development, bodily performance, and the body’s integration with technology through the work of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty and Nancy among others. From there I move to technical development, evolution and environments through the philosophical ideas of Ernst Kapp, Ernst Cassirer and Gilbert Simondon. Simondon in particular is of great importance when considering the interlinking of technical and human environments in terms of information studies and digital information environments. This is followed by an exploration of four thematic theoretical lenses: entanglement, rhizome, interface and diffraction through which to bring together and frame the previous research. Finally, I close the main thesis argument with a multimodal media phenomenological account of first-person research in the University of Colorado Boulder’s Media Archaeology Lab in order to demonstrate the use of an ethological approach to the study of information, media and computing technologies. Through this research, including photography and text, I demonstrate the phenomenological use of historic technologies to step outside of the reticulated meshwork of technology use and bodily integration, to slow down and listen to the body in strange multimodal mediatic encounters in order to demonstrate how these technologies are integrated within the horizon of experience which is our subjective world. I end with a conclusion that focuses on the ethics of information, technologies, media and being-with.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Ethology, Information, Technics, Environment, Umwelt, Uexkull, Simondon, Media, Technology, Entanglement, Ingold, Westling, Heidegger, Kapp, Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology, Media, Haptic, Cassirer, Barad.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Information Studies
Supervisor's Name: Anderson, Dr. Ian
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81298
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2020 12:00
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 11:34

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