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Message posted on 12/08/2020

Final CFP Phenomenology and Virtuality

Final Call for papers

Indo-Pacific Journal of Phenomenology

Special issue

Phenomenology and Virtuality

edited by Gregory Swer and Jean du Toit

Our age is typified by technology (Kroes & Meijers, 2016: 12), but it is
the question of the virtual that has particularly come to the forefront
after the turn of the century. The contemporary era of emergent digital
technologies has seen the multiplication of virtual spaces – our
civilizations are indeed steeped in the virtual – which has resulted in
complex changes to the dimensions of our existence and experience. While
thinkers such as Baudrillard (in Simulacra and Simulation (1981))
emphasize a dichotomous relationship between reality and virtual reality,
the enmeshed character of modern individuals within emergent virtual spaces
may call into question the continuing relevance of such oppositions.

The term virtuality (a conflation of the words reality and virtual) may
present a challenge to dichotomous views on reality and the virtual.
Virtuality does not merely refer to virtual reality, but rather – in a
broader sense – circumscribes the many virtual spaces that arise from
modern digital technologies within the life-world of the individual.
Virtuality denotes not merely those ‘obvious’ virtual spaces that one
engages with via so-called VR headsets and goggles, but rather the
multitudinous forms of the virtual that already find their occurrence
through social media networking sites and data transfer technologies,
through instant communication (words spoken or written by one person and
sent to another), through cell phones and TV screens, through advertising
(targeted or otherwise), and by means of geographical guidance via GPS
systems. The modern individual is immersed within virtuality, and we are
living in a world of technological appearances wherein making sense of
virtuality is becoming increasingly pressing.

A danger of the technological expansion of the virtual, especially as the
virtual heads inexorably towards omnipresence, is that everything seems to
fall apart into mere appearances. Robert Sokolowski formulates the problem
of appearances in our technological era in terms of three phenomenological
themes: 1) parts and wholes, 2) identity in manifolds, and 3) presence and
absence. He argues that we are “flooded by fragments without any wholes, by
manifolds bereft of identities, and by multiple absences without any
enduring real presence. We have bricolage and nothing else, and we think
we can even invent ourselves at random by assembling convenient and
pleasing but transient identities out of the bits and pieces we find around
us. We pick up fragments to shore against our ruin” (Sokolowski, 2000:
3-4). Sokolowski suggests that, in our engagement with the virtual, we are
caught up in a crisis of appearances. However, are other avenues open to us?

If phenomenology allows one to “return to the things themselves”
2001: 168), to “describe the basic structures of human experience and
understanding from a first person perspective” (Carman, 2002: viii), then
the individual’s encounter with virtuality is a problem that phenomenology
is particularly suited to address. It is the aim of this special issue to
promote interest in the emerging field of the phenomenology of virtuality,
and insights from a wide variety of phenomenological perspectives (and
multi-disciplinary viewpoints in conversation with phenomenology) are
welcomed in addressing this topic.

Topics of discussion could include (but are not limited to) the following:

- What is the relation between virtuality and phenomenology? In
what ways may traditional phenomenological thought be re-deployed to gain
insight into virtuality?

- What is the relation / differences between non-virtual and
virtual being? Is it possible to distinguish reality from virtuality?

- How is selfhood constituted in virtuality? What does
inter-subjectivity look like in this regard?

- How are the notions of gender and race constituted in virtuality?

- What is the relation / lack of relation between cognitive
science and phenomenological interpretations of virtuality?

- What is the relation between virtuality and the imaginary?

The contributors must submit their papers before 24 August 2020, with
expected publication of papers towards the end of the year. The editors do
appreciate that writing to deadline is particularly challenging under
present circumstances and should any prospective author require additional
time to prepare their submission, we ask that they please contact us to
discuss arrangements.

Please send articles to:

Gregory Swer (editor of the journal): Email:

Jean du Toit (guest editor of the special issue): Email:


Baudrillard, J. 1981. Simulacra and simulation. University of Michigan

Carman, 2002. Foreword. (In Merleau-Ponty, M. 1962. Phenomenology of
Perception, translated by Colin Smith. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Reprint, Routledge, 2002).

Husserl, E. 1900/1901. Logical Investigations, edited by Dermot Moran. 2nd
ed. 2 vols. London: Routledge. Reprint, Routledge, 2001.

Kroes, P. and Meijers, A.W. 2016. Toward an Axiological Turn in the
Philosophy of Technology. (In Franssen, M., Vermaas, P.E., Kroes, P. and
Meijers, A.W. eds. Philosophy of Technology after the Empirical Turn.
Springer Verlag. p. 11-30).

Sokolowski, R. 2000. Introduction to Phenomenology. Cambridge and New York:
Cambridge University Press.
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