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Orientation via Texts: From Antiquity to AI

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Organizer: Reinhard Mueller

Co-Organizer: Olga Faccani

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How do we orient ourselves to texts across time and technological advancements? How do texts orientate us, how do they transform us? How do texts shape the world that we orient ourselves in? How do AI-generated texts change the ways in which we think, communicate, and interact with each other?

Since the invention of writing, fundamental reorientations of thinking have often occurred hand in hand with innovative forms of writing: Parmenides created didactic poetry of the divine in order to teach his doctrine of true being; Plato the dialogue in order to avoid all doctrines; Aristotle the treatise in order to teach it in his own name; and Montaigne the essay in order to seek truth via unbiased self-observation. This process of differentiation and innovation has continued up until today, for instance, via Nietzsche’s performances of masks, James Joyce’s experimental thoughtstream, Frege’s logical Begriffsschrift, Wittgenstein’s aphoristic album, and Derrida’s deconstruction. And our contemporary world has witnessed an explosion of manifold digital forms of writing, from social media to AI technologies, that have in many regards revolutionized the ways in which we communicate. New forms of communication can bring about radical reorientations; and foundational reorientations often require new forms of writing to communicate them.

In this seminar, we seek to explore, via the concepts of the philosophy of orientation, how different forms of writing orient us in different ways and create different worlds of orientation across time and technological innovations. The philosophy of orientation was developed by Werner Stegmaier, at first in German in his Philosophie der Orientation (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2008) and subsequently in its abridged and updated English translation What is Orientation? A Philosophical Investigation (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2019).

We welcome all orientation-philosophical explorations of (but not limited to):

innovations of the forms of writing across time, including digital forms of communication and AI technologies
how AI-generated texts inform the ways we think, communicate, and interact with each other
the distinctions and connections between different genres of writing, such as philosophy, literature, digital texts, AI produced texts
how different forms of writing shape different ways of thinking and orientation
digital forms of writing
differences of writing regarding cultures, classes, races, and ethnic groups
the relationship between literary theories and texts

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