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Grant number: FT-254248-17

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Leif Weatherby
New York University (New York, NY 10012-1019)

Early Digital Humanities: German Idealism and the Development of Cybernetics in the mid 20th Century

Research and writing leading to a book-length study of mid-20th century philosophers of German Idealism who theorized cybernetics and digital technology.

The book project tells the story of a small group of thinkers I call the "cybernetic metaphysicians," who developed the first metaphysics for the digital. They shared the conviction that information theory and German Idealism (especially the philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel) would have to be combined to reinvent the humanities in the age of the computer. Warren McCulloch, Jacques Lacan, Max Bense, and Gotthard G√ľnther came to share this conviction through a series of glancing contacts that I reveal from the archive for the first time. They never formed a movement, but their thought, once reconstructed together, shows us a very different kind of "digital humanities."

Project fields:
Comparative Literature; History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2017 – 11/30/2017