“a tenth of a second is .. constitutive of modernity” #bigdata

“At first glance, it may seem that we can ignore the history of a tenth of a second. After all, most events occurring within this short period of time cannot be perceived. Most persons take more than a tenth of a second to react. But in looking more carefully at this moment, it appears strangely constitutive of modernity. The tenth of a second was repeatedly referenced in debates about the nature of time, causality, free will, and the difference between humans and nonhumans. Understanding this short, “invisible” period of time is as important as understanding other equally small and invisible things. When in the seventeenth century Robert Hooke used a newly invented microscope to reveal the shocking wealth of the micro-world, he claimed that the “shadow of things” no longer needed to be taken for their “substance.” Microscopy led him away from “uncertainty,” “mistakes,” “dogmatizing,” and forms of knowledge based largely on “discourse and disputation.” This new technology appeared to him as important as a series of other revolutionary inventions. Hooke listed it among gun powder, the seaman’s compass, printing, etching, and engraving, which together saved man from misguided attempts to advance on knowledge through wasteful “talking,” “arguing,” and “opining.” (from “A tenth of a second. An history”, Jimena Canales, University of Chicago Press)

Schermata 06-2456470 alle 21.45.22

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Cosimo Accoto

Research Affiliate at MIT | Author "Il Mondo Ex Machina" (Egea) | Philosopher-in-Residence | Business Innovation Advisor | www.cosimoaccoto.com

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