Introduction Over the past century technology has advanced monumentally and is now highly prevalent across the globe, encompassing nearly every part of every day life; as recently as only (x date), Alan Turing created what was the first computer, ushering in a new age for technology. Now it is commonplace to find a multitude of computing devices within a home or being carried on somebody’s person: smart televisions, smart phones, tablets, laptop computers, desktop computers, games consoles (portable and stationary), iPods – each device with the ability to connect with the other, as well as the ability to connect with other’s devices.
With the massive and quick growth of this new media, there is no doubt that this has altered human life – in many ways that are positive and negative – and it is the purpose of this paper to look at the way society responds to these changes, in sensibility, by philosophical and cultural means. For this I propose that through the extended use of new media that, through inauthentic behaviour, we as people lose our sense of existence and identity; this idea will be explored by applying Sartrean philosophical views of Existentialism, coupled with examples of contemporary art pieces (to illustrate the presented themes in popular culture). In addition, an analysis of the contemporary world, made by Bernard Stiegler, will also be used for considerations in this paper, as well as a brief psychological and sociological outlook made by Sherry Turkle.
Pt.1 (Sartre’s Being – an overview)
Before it is possible to break down and analyse the concept of dissociation of one own’s self through technology use, it is firstly important to define and clarify, briefly, the way in which existence is experienced, according to Jean-Paul Sartre. The main concepts, for which, surrounds his philosophy of being (in Being and Nothingness): the various modalities of being, consciousness, nothingness and freedom, all of which are interrelated. As Sartre states in “Existentialism and Humanism”: “Existence precedes essence” insofar that “…man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards. If man… sees himself as not definable it is because to begin with he is nothing. He will not be anything until later, and then he will be what he makes of himself.” (Sartre, 2007) Given that humanity is born without purpose, each person is the sculptor of their own being and that of humanity, using negation; the being that negates is “being-for-itself”, one of consciousness and, ultimately, self-awareness. The “being-for-itself” is one which is purposive, in direct contrast with the “being-in-itself”, which is the unconscious being, that of objects.