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From Language to Communication – Vilém Flusser’s path from language philosophy to communication and media theory

This article reconstructs Vilém Flusser’s first academic field of research, the philosophy of language, documented by the two books, Language and Reality and Philosophy of Language, that arose from his initial interest in language in general; and how these early probings were preserved in the later course of his work when his focus changed from language to communication and mediation. It fleshes out concepts that represent a continuity in his work, such as sign, meaning and symbol, information, knot, entropy, discourse, the technological world, and dialogue and conversation; all of this being based on a wider concept of language that encompasses not only speech but also sound, images, and symbolic forms in general. It intends to shed light on the continuity in Flusser’s work over the course of its progress and changing focuses.

Rethinking Interology with Flusser

Motivated as much by a deep concern with the rapidly evolving human condition as by intellectual curiosity, this article reveals the problem-driven and futurological nature of Flusserian interology [Deleuze]. It proposes that compared to traditional ontology, the notion of interality and the dynamics of interology offer us a more adequate way of thinking through our situation in the here and now and in the immediate future. The secondary motive is to turn Flusser’s media philosophy into a pointillist verbal art, a techno-ethics, and an intertopia befitting the digital era.

Rethinking Interology (PDF 465.71 KB)

Há futuro para a tradução na sociedade pós-histórica? / Does Translation Have a Fu-ture in the Post-Historical Society?

Researchers studying Flusser’s work are faced with two apparently distinct periods: in the first period, while he lived in Brazil, Flusser developed his theory of language; in the second period, after his return to Europe, his theory of the media and post-historical society. In this paper, I intend to explore some of the connections between those two periods of Flusser’s thought, and point to some possible ways Flusser’s view on language and translation can be applied to his conception of post-historical society. Flusser's reflections suggesting that writing is coming to an end are analyzed here in an effort to identify the place occupied by translation in a world where history and writing are losing ground to technological images. In this context, this work emphasizes the crucial role assigned by Flusser to translation: that of building bridges, not only between different languages and cultures, but also between different fields and models of knowledge.

Há futuro (PDF 193.58 KB)
Does translation (PDF 202.9 KB)

Vilém Flussers Sprache und Wirklichkeit von 1963 im Kontext seiner Medienphilosophie

Language and Reality (Língua e Realidade), written 1963 in Portuguese, is Vilém Flusser’s first publication on the subject of language. Communication as inter-subjective conversation is regarded here as the very form in which language lives up to itself. Already in this early phase of his Brazilian work – which so far has not been given the attention it deserves – future themes are present in an embryonic way. His reflections on electronic brains participating in a communication network, for instance, can be found again in the concept of a telematic information society. Flusser’s recourse to European language theories throws a rather unexpected light on his media and communication theory of the eighties and early nineties.

Sprache und Wirklichkeit (PDF 206.51 KB)

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