Touch, time and technics: Levinas and the ethics of haptic communications

Boothroyd, Dave (2009) Touch, time and technics: Levinas and the ethics of haptic communications. Theory, Culture and Society, 26 (2-3). pp. 330-345. ISSN 0263-2764

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0263276409103123

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Abstract

The development of immersive media-communication environments, and their theorization in terms of the 'haptic', calls for a reconsideration of the relationship between sensuality and the ethics of contact. For the most part, the cultural theorization of the virtual which remains preoccupied with the visual has tended to limit its scope to the paradoxes, politics and ethics of representation. Much of media and cultural studies work, for instance, has adopted, directly or indirectly, the traditional visual and ocularcentric paradigm in its analyses of cultural forms and technologies as these have become integrated into contemporary life. Whilst it has been argued, for instance by Mark Hansen in his recent books, that this paradigm is inadequate to digital media and the developments of human-machine interactions the digital introduces, few comentators have addressed how new developments in immersive sensory media environments bear on the ethics of communication. By way of a reflection on the themes of the tactility of contact and the ethics of touch in the work of Emmanuel Levinas, this article critically evaluates the ethical significance of the 'sensory extension' haptic media represent. It identifies and argues against the neo-positivist tendency of Hansen's reliance on the empiricism of the neurosciences whilst locating the resources for an ethics of touch in Levinas' concept of time as 'diachrony'.

Keywords:Derrida, Haptics, Levinas, Materiality, Phenomenology, Skin
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P300 Media studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Media)
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ID Code:14271
Deposited On:08 Aug 2014 11:08

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