Gianni Vattimo: Hermeneutic Communism and Digital Media Theory


In La società trasparente (1989), Vattimo places the “relative chaos” of the mass media at the heart of his understanding of postmodernity as an epoch of the weakening of being. The consequent decline of strong foundations for political author- ity was part of Vattimo’s emancipatory reading of the media. In the second edition of the book (2000) he claims that such postmodern emancipation is limited by a lack of conflictuality in the aesthetic ideals promoted by the free market. In this article, I ask how Vattimo’s media philosophy anticipates elements of his more recent political philosophy. Reading Vattimo against Heidegger and Byung-Chul Han, I conclude that his insistence on the nihilistic origins of hermeneutics may offer a way of criticizing the lacking conflictuality in current digital media in a fashion that does not desire a return to ultimate truth claims.

Published in Philosophy Today, Volume 60, Issue 3, Summer 2016

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