The Message Counter-Attacks the Medium: McLuhan, Heidegger, and Greenberg

by Professor of Philosophy Graham Harman

This lecture considers three of the great twentieth century figures in their respective fields: Marshall McLuhan (media theory), Martin Heidegger (philosophy), and Clement Greenberg (art criticism). What all of them obviously have in common is the idea that the hidden background medium governing any situation is more important than its foreground or surface content. In McLuhan's case, there is also the under-discussed implication that only changes in surface content can retroactively transform the supposedly all-powerful medium. In this talk I will claim that the same also holds true for Heidegger and Greenberg, if in less obvious form, and thus that philosophy and art criticism need to borrow some lessons from media theory.

Graham Harman is associate provost for research administration and professor in the Department of Philosophy, having come to Egypt from Chicago in 2000. He is the 2009 winner of the AUC Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors Award.
Harman is the author of nine books, most recently The Quadruple Object and Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making, both published in 2011. He is the editor of the Speculative Realism book series at Edinburgh University Press, and (with Bruno Latour) co-editor of the New Metaphysics book series at Open Humanities Press. He is a former Chicago sportswriter, an avid world traveler, and a sixth-generation native of Iowa.

The event is a collaboration between section for Philosophy and section for Film and Media Studies by Søren Gosvig Olesen and Arild Fetveit.