COMN 3252 lecture notes week 11/15Silverstone (Media and Morality)argues that the generally pathetic state of media—in particular electronic media—represents a crisis.In social/societal terms, we are in a globalized world. But we do not have thetools we need to construct a globalized morality—to find ways to preserve and promote the cultural diversity and pluralism that is the great guarantor and defender of freedom at all levels. Monocultures—in society no less than agriculture—are possibly efficient (though they are unknown in nature), but they are also very precarious. The consequences of failure are always catastrophic.Too much samenessis dangerous and undesirable—confining, suffocating.And on the other hand we want to avoid the opposite, of too much difference, which can lead to demonizing and dehumanizing other cultures as“evil” or “less than human” and reacting to them with aggression.This is a mediacrisis because media, today, do much of the work of constructingthe world we live in. Here’s how that works:1)There is such a thing as physical reality, but as humans operating with five senses, we actively constructa world, one we can negotiate, through the interaction of our intelligence and the physical reality. (The social and political reality we experience every day is also a social construction.)1
How can we believe in this constructed world? As Aristotle noted, the reality of the world thus constructed is guaranteed by the presence of others who interpret it the same way (Nicomachaean Ethics). NOTE the concurrence here with Hegel/Marx notion of the smallest unit of human its being the pair and not he individual—hence the necessity for communication. Subjectivity is made possible by communication, not introspection.3)In former times, we constructed this world through face-to-face contact and real-world experience, and by listening to stories told to us by other one-to-one or in small groups, in public space. 4)This public space survived through many centuries and into the newspaper age, until the arrival of the telegraph, and then radio, and the beginnings of global, industrial mass media of communication.5)What can we say about the world that’s presented to us through mediatechnologies? It is a world at least one step further removedfrom direct sensory experience, and therefore even less trustworthy—more in need of verification of others.6)The world has grown much bigger (more populous), and at the same time smaller. The global village. Today, the world is our community, thanks to the media. We must somehow cope with, make sense of it.2
7)To do this, we turn to the same media, because we cannot possibly rely on our personal experience…which is largely non-existent on this scale.