Philosophy of the Internet

A Discourse on the Nature of the Internet

László Ropolyi

László Ropolyi

translated by 
Zoltán Wágner

Hywel Griffiths

This book based on a translation of the Hungarian volume „Az Internet természete. Internetfilozófiai értekezés”, published by Typotex, Budapest, 2006.

It is free to use for research and education. A written permission of the copyright holders is needed for making any kinds of copies of the text.

Made in the project entitled "E-learning scientific content development in ELTE TTK" with number TÁMOP-4.1.2.A/1-11/1-2011-0073. Consortium leader: Eötvös Loránd University, Consortium Members: ELTE Faculties of Science Student Foundation, ITStudy Hungary Ltd.


This convict-age can subjugate youse
but you become free if not
to build inside a house
in which a landlord settles down
 --(A fragment of the poem „Consciousness” by Attila József)

Table of Contents

Theses about the reformation of knowledge
1. The appearance of the Internet in the late modern age
2. Late modern technology
2.1 The nature of technology
2.1.1 Tool use and tool making
2.1.2 Techné and technology
2.1.3 Science and technology
2.1.4 Man and technology
2.1.5 Machines and technology
2.1.6 Technology and society: the autonomy of technology and its value content
2.1.7 Technological optimism, pessimism and realism
2.1.8 Philosophy and technology or the philosophy of technology
2.2 The nature of information technologies
2.2.1 The technology of producing information
2.2.2 Information technologies and postmodern technologies
2.2.3 Open technological situations in cyberspace
2.3 Virtuality and reality
2.3.1 Premodern virtuality
2.3.2 Modern virtuality
2.3.3 Postmodern virtuality
2.4 Virtual reality
2.4.1 Presence and virtuality
2.4.2 Worldliness and virtuality
2.4.3 Virtuality, openness and plurality
2.4.4 Aspects of virtual reality
3. Communication in the late modern age
3.1 The nature of communication
3.1.1 Communication and community
3.1.2 Communication and language
3.1.3 Communication situations
3.1.4 The autonomy and value content of communication
3.1.5 Communication and information technology
3.2 Communication media and technologies
3.2.1 Orality and literacy
3.2.2 Books and reading
3.2.3 Images in communication
3.2.4 Private sphere, public sphere and mass communication
3.2.5 The medium is the message
3.3 Information and communication machines
3.3.1 Communication machines
3.3.2 Communication networks
3.3.3 The Internet as a communication network
3.3.4 Machines, communities and society
3.3.5 World and community
3.4 The communication of knowledge
3.4.1 The technologies of communicating knowledge
3.4.2 The communities of knowledge
3.4.3 Science and knowledge on the Internet
4. The transformation of culture in late modernity
4.1 The nature of culture
4.1.1 Culture and human nature
4.1.2 Culture and community
4.1.3 Culture and society
4.1.4 The autonomy and value content of culture
4.2 Modern and postmodern culture
4.2.1 The modern and the postmodern in culture
4.2.2 Crisis development and the postmodern condition
4.2.3 The crisis and reformation of modern knowledge
4.3 Late modernity and cyberculture
4.3.1 Culture and cyberculture
4.3.2 Culture on the Internet
5. Late modern organisms
5.1 The nature of the organism
5.1.1 Identity, integrity and reproduction
5.1.2 Systems, networks and the world
5.1.3 The autonomy and value content of organisms
5.2 Modern and postmodern organization
5.2.1 Organization and modern physics
5.2.2 Constructions and constructors
5.3 Modern computers
5.3.1 The principles of mechanistic philosophy in computers
5.3.2 Modern political and economic relations in computers
5.3.3 Hierarchical subsystems, information and society
5.3.4 Division of labour, alienation and selfishness in computers
5.4 Postmodern Internet
5.4.1 Plurality
5.4.2 Fragmentation
5.4.3 Virtuality
5.4.4 Included modernity
5.4.5 Against power
5.4.6 Individuality
5.5 The worldwide organism and the world of the Internet
5.5.1 Worldwide computer and communication networks
5.5.2 Globalization, network society, web life
5.6 Anzix from a network society
5.6.1 The escalation of the problem
5.6.2 The technical problem
5.6.3 The business-related problem
5.6.4 The social problem
5.6.5 Some conclusions
6. The nature of the Internet
7. Summary and a preliminary abstract of volume two
8. Postscript: Prolegomena to a Web-Life-Theory
9. References
1. Offline literature
2. Online literature
10. Websites about the Internet on the Internet
A. Appendix