The messenger as a model in Media Theory. Reflections on the philosophical di-mensions of theorizing Media

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The concept of communication leads a double life in German discourse. On the one hand, there is the theory of communicative action, coupled with universal pragmatics, and associated with Jürgen Habermas. On the other, there are technical-material theories of communication, derived from the Shannon-Weaver model, and often associated with the name of Friedrich Kittler. Both types of theory converge on a single point: language and media are autonomous and function like an Archimedian point and an a priori. Is it possible to develop a philosophy of the media without following such stances on language and media determinism? This question can be answered in the affirmative only if we reject the thesis that media are autonomous and look at them as heteronomous. The constitutive heteronomy of media is explained from the perspective of a “messenger-model.” Its heuristic value consists in the fact that it rehabilitates and explains the productivity of “transmission” and “transgression” in very different cultural and natural fields. Three messenger-figures are analysed: the religious idea of an angel, the physiological concept of a virus, the juridical and epistemic institution of the witness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMedia Transatlantic : Developments in Media and Communication Studies Between North American and German-Speaking Europe
EditorsNorm Friesen
Number of pages17
Place of PublicationCham
Publication date01.01.2016
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-28489-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-28489-7
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2016