The internet provides us with a multitude of ways of interacting with one another. In discussions about how technological innovations impact and shape our interpersonal interactions, there is a tendency to assume that encountering people online is essentially different to encountering people offline. Yet, individuals report feeling a sense of togetherness with one another online that echoes offline descriptions. I consider how we can understand people's experiences of being together with others online, at least in certain instances, as arising out of their feeling together as a we. Using Walther's phenomenological framework of communality, I explore whether the following might take place online: (i) habitual communal experiences and (ii) actual we-experiences. While neither of these sketches amount to a full account of how we find ourselves with others online, I suggest that they reveal how insights from the phenomenology of sociality can be used to deepen our understanding of online communality. What is more, I suggest that the strength of this approach is that in some cases it allows us to circumvent tricky questions about embodiment online and, in others, prompts us to ask to what extent a fully-embodied interaction is really required for we-experiences.
Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a complex disorder characterised by selfstarvation, an act of self-destruction. It is often described as a disorder marked by paradoxes and, despite extensive research attention, is still not well understood.Much AN research focuses upon the distorted body image that individuals with AN supposedly experience. However, based upon reports from individuals describing their own experience of AN, I argue that their bodily experience is much more complex than this focus might lead us to believe. Such research often presents an overly cognitive understanding of bodily experience in AN, underplaying the affective, felt experience of individuals with AN, as well as descriptions of empowerment, strength and control reported in the early stages of AN. This paper seeks to enrich our understanding of bodily experience in AN as it progresses throughout the various stages of the disorder. I show how the classical phenomenological distinction between the body-as-subject and the body-as-object, as well as Leder's conception of the visceral body, can inform our understanding of bodily experience in AN. I suggest that the project of self-starvation is an attempt to overcome the noisy demands of the visceral body, which are experienced as threatening the body-as-subject, through a process of objectifying the body-asobject. By cashing out AN as a project of radical bodily control that, tragically, comes to control the individual, we can capture important aspects of the bodily experience of AN and the temporal progression of the disorder.
Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is an eating disorder characterised by self-starvation. Accounts of AN typically frame the disorder in individualistic terms: e.g., genetic predisposition, perceptual disturbances of body size and shape, experiential bodily disturbances. Without disputing the role these factors may play in developing AN, we instead draw attention to the way disordered eating practices in AN are actively supported by others. Specifically, we consider how Pro-Anorexia (ProAna) websites—which provide support and solidarity, tips, motivational content, a sense of community, and understanding to individuals with AN—help drive and maintain AN practices. We use C. Thi Nguyen’s work on epistemic “echo chambers”, along with Maria Lugones’ work on “worlds” and “ease”, to explore the dynamics of these processes. Adopting this broader temporal and intersubjective perspective, we argue, not only helps to further illuminate the experiential character of AN but also has important clinical and therapeutic significance.
In this paper, we introduce the Japanese philosopher Tetsurō Watsuji’s phenomenology of aidagara (“betweenness”) and use his analysis in the contemporary context of online space. We argue that Watsuji develops a prescient analysis anticipating modern technologically-mediated forms of expression and engagement. More precisely, we show that instead of adopting a traditional phenomenological focus on face-to-face interaction, Watsuji argues that communication technologies—which now include Internet-enabled technologies and spaces—are expressive vehicles enabling new forms of emotional expression, shared experiences, and modes of betweenness that would be otherwise inaccessible. Using Watsuji’s phenomenological analysis, we argue that the Internet is not simply a sophisticated form of communication technology that expresses our subjective spatiality (although it is), but that it actually gives rise to new forms of subjective spatiality itself. We conclude with an exploration of how certain aspects of our online interconnections are hidden from lay users in ways that have significant political and ethical implications.
Philosophical work exploring the relation between cognition and the Internet is now an active area of research. Some adopt an externalist framework, arguing that the Internet should be seen as environmental scaffolding that drives and shapes cognition. However, despite growing interest in this topic, little attention has been paid to how the Internet influences our affective life—our moods, our emotions, and our ability to regulate these and other feeling states. We argue that the Internet scaffolds not only cognition but also affect. Using various case studies, we consider some ways that we are increasingly dependent on our Internet-enabled “techno-social niches” to regulate the contours of our own affective life and participate in the affective lives of others. We argue further that, unlike many of the other environmental resources we use to regulate affect, the Internet has distinct properties that introduce new dimensions of complexity to these regulative processes. First, it is radically social in a way many of these other resources are not. Second, it is a radically distributed and decentralized resource; no one individual or agent is responsible for the Internet’s content or its affective impact on users. Accordingly, while the Internet can profoundly augment and enrich our affective life and deepen our connection with others, there is also a distinctive kind of affective precarity built into our online endeavors as well.
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