chapter  1
On the very concept of digital ontology
ByJustin Clemens, Adam Nash
Pages 32

This essay discusses ‘digital ontology,’ arguing that digital ontology is a paradoxical, nonsensical or contradictory phenomenon that resists its own consistent formalisation. This chapter intervenes into such questions, beginning with a preliminary analysis of some influential recent approaches in digital ontology (Floridi, Boellstoerff, Fredkin), showing that they prioritise epistemology over ontology. Next, it reexamines certain of the most important twentieth-century ontologies (Heidegger, Simondon, Stiegler, Badiou), arguing that digital technologies expose new phenomena that have no precedent in any metaphysical or logical tradition. Among the most central of these phenomena in the context of digital ontology are not only the extraordinary advances in ‘positive’ knowledge thereby gained (as are studied and manipulated under such rubrics as ‘big data’), but new kinds of cognitive deadlocks and dilemmas that have emerged. Digital technologies therefore present aporias, or impasses of knowledge, to any attempt to think the ontology of the digital. The authors conclude that it is only on the basis of these aporias opened by digital technology that the new lineaments of a properly digital ontology can be discerned.