April 3rd 2017

The Documedial Revolution

Prof. Maurizio Ferraris


April 3, 2017, 11am-1:15pm.

STH 541 Matchette Library, 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston.

Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to jfloyd@bu.edu.


It is often said that the internet was the fourth revolution after Copernicus, Darwin and Freud. What we should add, though, is that just like the three revolutions that preceded it the Web was first of all a revelation – something we don’t quite understand yet and still have to deal with properly. What we are facing is a change as crucial as that from oral speech to writing, but the latter was widely studied, whereas the ontological implications of this transformation have been largely overlooked.

Copernicus revealed the structure of the solar system, Darwin the origins of the human race, and Freud the foundations of consciousness; the Web – this revolutionary figure without a real founding father -has revealed the deep structure of social reality, with an unprecedented degree of evidence. It has shown that social reality needs not only communication but – much more so – recording, unveiling the constitutive role of documents within social reality, as shown by the boom of writing of the past thirty years.

Because of this, the Web could be the epistemological, ontological and technological absolute of our age – absolute meaning ab-solutus, the net that joins us all and yet depends on nothing (except for electric power). The manifestation of this absolute is “documediality”, as it entails the fusion between the media (now individualized by social media, where every subject is a potential broadcaster) and documentality, namely the stratum of documents that grounds the construction of social reality.


Prof. Maurizio Ferraris

University of Turin, President of LabOnt – Laboratory for Ontology

Maurizio Ferraris is full Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin, where he is also the director of the LabOnt (Laboratory for Ontology). He is affiliated with numerous European institutions and writes frequently in public venues.


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