maurizio ferraris

maurizio ferraris.png

intro’d to Marizio here:


In just a few! Livestream today’s Databite with Maurizio Ferraris, @ScherzingerM, and @robyncaplan


on documents.. making it easy to create capitals.. & man as kind of document for people unable to read – Maurizio Ferraris

Maurizio’s talk starts at 4 min

Noam and Trump quotes.. could have been each other.. think.. have same enemy.. so same person.. but not case.. real diff between 1\

7 min – so .. postmodernism: 1\ ironization: you should not have a dogmatic attitude toward words.. you should be always in a stand off reflective distance in order to avoid the dogmatism..

8 min – 2\ de-sublimination: since reason is something dogmatic and related to power.. then the liberation could not come from reason but from the other ie: desire, fantasy, myth.. whatever

3\ de-objectivation: objectivity is an obsession for western intellectual..what is most important is solidarity.. democracy over philosophy..

10 min – 20 yrs later a perverse realization of postmodernism – – populism

14 min – capitalism is not the cause ..(ie: i don’t think fb was started to make a bunch of money).. it is the effect.. of .. documentality.. it always exists.. society is grounded on documentality.. because the rule that creates a social object like.. a conference or holy days or deaths or wars or… is this rule: object is a recorded act.. object is at least 2 actors.. and is recorded.. ie: a marriage.. if you ie: go destroy the memory in all the brains of wall street.. the stock exchange will disappear.. because it’s made up by memory

made-up money

16 min – so what happens now.. this is the reason of post truth.. since the ground of society is the existence of documents.. now we have an inflation of documents because the devices like this (iphone) are gigantic containers of documents.. that receive/produce/archive/broadcast a result.. this increasing quantity of document

17 min – the web is a gigantic construction of documenting.. the web is not what we usually think it is.. it’s primarily recording and not just communication.. what’s important to the web is the fact that everything is recorded..

19 min – the web doesn’t have a project..

20 min – web primarily mobilization.. not emancipation.. ie: arab spring.. it can emancipate.. but the real actual produced by the web is mobilization

21 min – so what instead of the capital..?  i suggest .. documediality: mixture between the power of documentality that already existed inside the society .. and the explosion of document and the possibility of (broadcasting?) document..

fact checking and reputation are not the problem.. not simply people lying.. but inflation of documentation inflation allows possibility of lying and truth.. most people say.. i am saying truth.. most people don’t say.. i’ll tell you a they say.. i will tell you the truth

22 min – problem is.. w/documentality.. we still don’t understand.. still are not aware of the power of this gigantic structure (?) which is the web.. still not aware of..  in this sense..

we need a practical reason for the web

let’s try this: hosting-life-bits that io dance

37 min – robyn (@robyncaplan: )relationship between post structuralism: truth is socially constructed and everyone has their own sense of reality and it’s violence to not recognize that.. it came from an ethical and solid political perspective.. and how that has been co opted by the right and turned into this post truth discourse..

robyn: Maurizio saying problem is not capitalism but problem is documentality..

graeber f&b same law

39 min – w/o documents.. ie: proof own house.. makes it uneasy to create capital.. at the very end we can say.. man is a kind of document.. we can say.. man is the document for people are not able to read..

40 min – my idea is.. why is it we should be so reductive.. to think that it’s just a possibility of capitalism.. instead of it being of the possibility of the society.. so that the real structure of the society is not this kind of intentionally distractor (?) is wide spread in the interpretation of society.. what is society.. why social object are important.. well.. because we all agreed that money is important.. that this bill is as of value..

41 min – there is a problem on the intentionality .. because society is not a place in which people agree each other.. but it’s a place people complete one another .. i don’t say that capitalists are not cruel.. but they have not decided to be cruel.. *there are plenty of other people who are cruel w/o being capitalist.. the real point is that the social dynamics are mostly independent from this kind of individual attitude.. i still believe .. to capitalism.. to create a negative govt that does not allow us to understand what is happening.. they decide to do this.. we are not able to understand what is happening.. we are hidden by the real structure.


42 min – agree with martin and platonic object.. no one invented traditional music.. it emerges from context.. we can say the same for religion.. politics..

43 min – also .. language in a sense is a platonic object.. no decided to create a language from ex nihilo

49 min – robyn: how are we constructing truths/realities thru these languages.. and in what ways might they be limited..

begs hlb via idio jargon

math is technology and language too.. and there are plenty of things that are technology

50 min – by *technology.. any kind of competence w/o comprehension..

ferraris tech law


perfect.. can listen to all – w/o judgment

we are able to act in many things.. w/o having a clear concept of what we are doing.. ie: language.. making calculus.. because when you are making calculus.. using symbols w/o having a clear idea of what you are really doing.. a technological attitude.. and this becomes very clear if you think about the abacus,, result is given by some actor.. but not able to do math without it..

51 min – real of tech very large.. since origin.. philosophers like kant believed that in order to act we needed to have concept

embodiment ness

52 min – the idea that here (low level) you have ontology and here (next up) you have epistemology.. and since you are living in the real world.. the ontology.. you need the epistemology.. the concept.. sometimes you need the epistemology.. but usually you have the technology.. this intermediate between what we know and what there is.. and the most we do in our life is technology.. competence w/o comprehension.. who uses.. simply.. an elevator

1:00 – q: there is evidence on capital being embedded in the documentality that is feeding this structure.. so could you talk on that.. and why you both keep talking disjunction..

1:01 – for the point of the algo’s.. it’s interesting because.. i don’t know anything about algo’s..but i suppose that they (algo’s) create regularities.. and this is a problem for truth.. because truth in many case.. is not regular.. is surprising.. doesn’t accomplish what we expect.. so if algo based truth.. you will have huge quantity of .. was it truth.. or looked like truth..because an analogy with many other things happening.. so the principle that is not new.. ie: dog hurt man.. but when man hurt dog is new.. because is not so common..  the algorithm can’t keep this kind of singularity..

1:02 – that’s a good point on capital.. you can say… you can call the capitalism of the click and i like in fb for instance.. but why call this capitalism.. because the goal of this click/like usually.. is not money.. but is to be recognized.. i won’t say if it’s sane or insane this need of being recognized.. but it’s something that is different from the reason why people were working in capitalist epoch (?).. this is very important.. if you want to understand what happens we should do different categories.. which are not new at all.. plenty of philosophers.. hegel wrote 100 pages on the problem of being recognized.. but it was in a sense less important.. and epoch (?) in which people have to survive much more than to be recognized.. looks for i like.. want to be recognized..

1:06 – robyn: so you both agree algos are capable of having a bias and that we’re in this moment of post truth.. and Maurizio has suggested that these moments arise historically when we basically lose track of lower layer biases.. when we’re unable to look at the dissemination/communication technologies and understand how they’re operating.. and then they become sort of mystified to us.. and religion rises.. and truth sort of becomes less accessible.. and so Martin is saying that this layer of the technology at which post truth is being disseminated/flourishing right now.. is a layer at which we can’t really see the algo bias.. that is not transparent to us anymore.. so i wonder if there’s something going on there.. where we can bring your thoughts together with what Cathy/Cassidy (?) was saying about the deeper biases that just are not obvious to us right now

1:08 – q: on those creating social code/language.. in the bias you’re talking about.. limited number of people.. does that make sense..?

1:12 – just to add.. how increasing documentality can create a problem in the field of post truth.. create post truth.. because if we have a .. we lived for so much time in a relatively rarity of document.. document were things like.. books.. newspapers.. and we are very well equipped in order to recognized a bias in say.. direct interaction.. because i can see.. someone look me with hate and i can imagine that is bias.. and i put into a frame of what he will say to me.. and this is something to have a theory of mind of other minds.. it’s a natural equipment of humans.. we are also culturally equipped in order to understand that that maybe what the (newspapers) write .. are somehow biased.. but we are not equipped in order to imagine that everything we read in the web is biased.. because there is too much and we have no kind of previous knowledge on this..

2012 – lecture on new realism – 25 min


find/follow Maurizio:

wikipedia small

Maurizio Ferraris (born February 7, 1956 in Turin) is an Italian philosopher and scholar. His name is attached to the philosophical current named new realism (he wrote the Manifesto of New Realism in 2012, published by SUNY Press in 2014), that shares significant similarities with speculative realism and object oriented ontology. A pupil of Gianni Vattimo, and influenced by Jacques Derrida, he started as a theorist of hermeneutics before turning his attention to the analytic strand. Over the years he has been able to create an effective synthesis between the two approaches, creating a new ontological realism that rejects Kant’s schematism in the cognitive area.

Since 1995 Ferraris has been full Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Literature and Philosophy at the University of Turin, where he also runs the LabOnt (Laboratory for Ontology). He studied in Turin, Paris and Heidelberg and has taught at major European Universities. He is the director of the Rivista di Estetica and is part of the directive committee of Critique and aut aut. From 1989 to 2010 he has written for the cultural supplement of Il Sole 24 ORE; since 2010 he has been writing for the cultural section of la Repubblica. His main areas of expertise are hermeneutics, aesthetics and ontology.

Ferraris graduated from Philosophy at the University of Turin in 1979, under the guidance of Gianni Vattimo. In the early years of his career he divided his time between teaching, research and cultural journalism. From 1979 to 1988 he has been an editor, and then co-director, of Alfabeta, whose directive committee includes, among others, Antonio Porta, Nanni Balestrini, Maria Corti, Umberto Eco, Francesco Leonetti, Pier Aldo Rovatti and Paolo Volponi. In the early eighties he began his relationship with Derrida, who deeply marked his philosophical training. On the academic level, in 1984, after two years of teaching in Macerata (1982–83), he began to teach in Trieste, interspersing his didactic activities with a series of stays in Heidelberg. Here, after getting in contact with Gadamer, he started his studies in hermeneutics.

In 1995, Ferraris was called in Turin, as a full Professor of Aesthetics, and later began teaching Metaphysics (Filosofia teoretica) in 1999. While working as a director of program (i.e. teacher) at the Collège international de philosophie from 1998 to 2004, in 1999 he founded the Laboratory for Ontology (LabOnt) and the Inter-University Centre for Theoretical and Applied Ontology (CTAO). Currently Ferraris is full Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin, where he is also the President of the LabOnt (Laboratory for Ontology) and of the Centre for Theoretical and Applied Ontology (CTAO). He is a Fellow of Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Recht als Kultur” (Bonn) and a Honorary Fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies of South East Europe (Rijeka). Ferraris has been Fellow of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America and of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung. He has also been Directeur d’études of the Collège International de Philosophie and a Visiting Professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris) as well as other European and American Universities.

Ferraris is a columnist for ‘La Repubblica’, the Director of ‘Rivista di Estetica’, and the Co-director of ‘Critique’ and the ‘Revue francophone d’esthétique’. He wrote more than fifty books that have been translated into several languages. The books that have appeared in English are: History of Hermeneutics(Humanities Press, 1996), Documentality or Why it is Necessary to Leave Traces (Fordham UP, 2012), Goodbye Kant! (SUNY UP, 2013); Where Are You? An Ontology of the Cell Phone (Fordham UP, 2015) and Manifesto of New Realism (SUNY UP, 2015). Maurizio Ferraris has worked in the field of aesthetics, hermeneutics and social ontology, attaching his name to the theory of *documentality, and

Documentality is the theory of documents that underlies the ontology of social reality put forward by the Italian philosopher Maurizio Ferraris (see Ferraris 2007, 2008, 2009a and 2009b). The theory gives to documents a central position within the sphere of social objects, conceived as distinct from physical and ideal objects. Ferraris argues that social objects are “social acts that have been inscribed on some kind of support”, be it a paper document, a magnetic support, or even memory in people’s heads (e.g. in the case of the promises we make every day). Thus the constitutive rule of social objects is that Object = Inscribed Act. Therefore, documents as inscriptions possessing social relevance and value embody the essential and prototypical features of any social object, and it is on this basis that it is possible to develop an ontology capable of classifying documents and their selective storage, beginning with the grand divide between strong documents (inscriptions of acts), which make up social objects in the full sense, and weak documents (recordings of facts), which are secondary derivatives and of lesser importance. This theory is inspired, on the one hand, by the reflection on the centrality of writing developed by Jacques Derrida (1967, 1972) and, on the other hand, by the theory of social acts devised by Adolf Reinach (1913) and the theory of linguistic acts by John L. Austin(1962).


shape theory:

1\ speech acts: through the performance of speech acts (acts of promising, marrying, accusing, baptizing) we change the world by bringing into being claims, obligations, rights, relations of authority, debts, permissions, names, and a variety of other sorts of entities, thus making up the ontology of the social world.

2\ de soto: Through the performance of document acts (acts of filling in, registering, conveying, validating, attaching), we change the world by bringing into being ownership relations, legal accountability, business organizations, and a variety of other institutional orders of modern societies

3\ derrida: was wrong – according to Ferraris (2005; 2009) – in claiming that “nothing exists outside the text”. Actually physical and ideal objects exist independently from every recording, as independently from there being humanity. This is not the case for social objects, which depend closely on records and the existence of humanity. It is in this sense that, by weakening Derrida’s thesis, Ferraris proposed to develop a social ontology starting from the intuition that nothing social exists outside the text. Keeping this in mind, Ferraris advances an innovative approach to social ontology called Documentality.

contemporary **New Realism.

Ferraris’ early interests lay in French post-structuralist philosophy, with special attention to authors such as Jean-François Lyotard, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Gilles Deleuze. A special role in the formation of his thought was undoubtedly played by Jacques Derrida, with whom Ferraris has maintained a relationship of research, later turned into a friendship, since 1981. Evidence of this phase of his thought can be found in his early works: Differenze (1981), Tracce (1983) and La svolta testuale (1984). Ferraris has specifically dedicated to Derrida: Postille a Derrida (1990), Honoris causa a Derrida (1998), Introduzione a Derrida (2003), Il gusto del segreto (1997) [A Taste for the Secret, Blackwell 2001] and, finally, Jackie Derrida. Ritratto a memoria (2006). While working with Gadamer, starting in the early eighties, Ferraris then turned to hermeneutics, writing: Aspetti dell’ermeneutica del Novecento (1986), Ermeneutica di Proust (1987), Nietzsche e la filosofia del Novecento (1989) and especially Storia dell’ermeneutica (1988) History of Hermeneutics, Humanities Press, 1996

The turning point

At the end of the eighties, Ferraris developed an articulated critique of Heidegger and Gadamer’s tradition (see, in particular, Cronistoria di una svolta, the 1990 afterword to Heidegger’s conference “The Turn”), which makes use of post-structuralism to challenge the romantic and idealistic legacy affecting such tradition. The conclusion of this critical path led the philosopher to the reconsideration of the relationship between the spirit and the letter as well as to a reversal of their traditional opposition. Oftentimes, both philosophers and ordinary people despise the letter (the rules and constraints instituted through documents and inscriptions of various kinds) and set the spirit (i.e. thought and will) above it, recognizing the creative freedom of the latter as opposed to the former. For Ferraris, it is the letter that precedes and founds the spirit. Thus occurred the transition to the second phase of the thought of the Italian philosopher.

Ferraris abandoned hermeneutic relativism and Derridean deconstruction to embrace a form of realistic objectivism according to which “objectivity and reality, considered by radical hermeneutics as principles of violence and abuse, are in fact – and precisely because of the contraposition between spirit and letter mentioned above – the only protection against arbitrariness”. This principle, which applies to morals, is based on the acknowledgement of a sphere of reality that is independent of interpretations (see, in particular, L’ermeneutica, 1998). The external world, recognized as unamendable, and the relationship between conceptual schemes and sensory experience (aesthetics, restored to its etymological meaning of “science of sensory perception”, acquires a primary significance – see, in particular, Analogon rationis (1994 ), Estetica (1996, with other authors), L’immaginazione (1996), Experimentelle Ästhetik (2001) and Estetica razionale (1997)) are the dominant themes of the second phase of Ferraris’ thought, which involves a re-reading of Kant through the naive physics of the perceptologist Paolo Bozzi (see Il mondo esterno (2001) and Goodbye Kant!(2004, forthcoming for SUNY Press)). Ferraris’ “critical ontology” recognizes the world of everyday life as largely impenetrable compared to conceptual schemes. The failure to acknowledge this principle traces back to the confusion between ontology (the sphere of being) and epistemology (the sphere of knowledge); such confusion is critically thematised by Ferraris starting from the character of unamendability that is typical of being as opposed to knowledge (see in particular: Ontologia (2003) and Storia dell’ontologia (2008, with other authors)). His reflection on realism led, in 2011, to the elaboration of the Manifesto of New Realism.

From social ontology to documentality

The natural outcome of critical ontology is the twofold acknowledgement of the external world as unamendable and of the domain of objects which Kantian transcendental philosophy rightly applies to: that of social objects. This new phase of Ferraris’ thought was ideally inaugurated with the publication of Dove sei? Ontologia del telefonino (2005) [Where are you? Ontology of the Cell Phone, forthcoming for Fordham UP] and went on with Babbo Natale, Gesù adulto (2006), Sans Papier (2007), La fidanzata automatica (2007) and Il tunnel delle multe (2008). The basic thesis is that the distinction between ontology and epistemology, combined with the acknowledgment of the ontological autonomy of the sphere of social objects (regulated by the constitutive law “object = inscribed act”), allows for the correction of Derrida’s thesis that “there is nothing outside the text “(literally, and asemantically,”there is no outside text”) so as to theorize, against Searle, that “there is nothing social outside the text.” This leads to the mature stage of Ferraris’ thought, fully exposed and systematized in what may be considered his summa: Documentalità. Perché è necessario lasciar tracce (2009) [Documentality. Why It Is Necessary to Leave Traces, Fordham UP, 2010] – and a monographic issue of the ‚“Monist“ (Edited by Maurizio Ferraris and Leonardo Caffo).


The most influential ontology of social reality, formulated by the American philosopher John Searle (1995), is based on collective intentionality, which allegedly ensures that certain physical objects (e.g. a piece of paper) are transformed into social objects (e.g. a banknote). As noted by Barry Smith (2003), this perspective has difficulty in accounting for both negative entities – such as debts, which apparently do not have a physical counterpart – and the new, seemingly intangible, social objects generated by the Web. The theory of documentality proposed by Maurizio Ferraris (2005) aims to solve these problems by arguing that social objects are always recordings of social acts. This accounts for both negative entities and the virtual entities of the web, which consist precisely of recordings just like any other social object. For the theory of documentality, the constitutive rule of social reality is “Object = Inscribed Act”, where “inscribed” is equal to “recorded”. That is: a social object is the result of a social act (such as to involve at least two people), which is characterized by its being recorded on some support, including the minds of the people involved in the act (in the case of informal social acts such as promises).

Articulated by Ferraris (2009) in a complete ontological theory and by Smith ( 2012) in a theory of document acts, documentality has three main reasons of interest. First, it has been able to account for the substantial growth of documents and recording devices in the Web world, which is very well explained by the proposed constitutive law of social reality. Secondly, it has been able to explain why social reality, while requiring the presence of subjects for the enactment of acts, may develop independently from them and even without their knowledge (an economic recession can be taking place even if no human subject is aware of it). Third, instead of making social reality depend on the action of collective intentionality – with an increasing social constructivism (Searle 2010) – documentality is capable of substantiating a “new realism” (Ferraris, 2012) that helps continental philosophy come out of the impasses of postmodernism and reconnect with analytic philosophy. [Source of this description of documentality: L. Caffo, “From Documentality to New Realism”, in The Monist, 97:2 April 2014].

New realism

The realist turn carried out by Maurizio Ferraris starting from the formulation of aesthetics not as philosophy of art, but as ontology of perception and sensory experience (Estetica razionale 1997 new edition 2011), finds a further declination in the Manifesto del nuovo realismo (2012) [Manifesto of new realism, SUNY Press, 2014]. New Realism – the principles of which were anticipated by Ferraris in an article published in La Repubblica on August 8, 2011 and which then started a massive debate – is primarily a consideration of some historical, cultural and political phenomena (i.e. the analysis of postmodernism up to its deteriorating into media populism). From these reflections follows the urge to shed light over the outcomes produced by the derivations of postmodernism within contemporary thought (i.e. the interpretation of philosophical realisms and “theories of truth” that developed starting from the end of last century in response to a deviation of the relationship between the individual and reality). This, in turn, leads to the proposal of an antidote to the degeneration of postmodernist ideology and the degraded and mendacious relationship with the world that it has caused: New Realism, in fact, identifies itself with the synergistic action of three key words, Ontology, Critique and Enlightenment. New Realism has been the subject of several debates and national and international conferences and has called for a series of publications that involve the concept of reality as a paradigm even in non-philosophical areas. In fact, the debate on new realism, for number of contributions and media response, has no equivalent in the recent cultural history, to the point of being chosen as ‘case study’ for the analysis of the sociology of communication and linguistics.

In the international arena, the Manifesto of new realism can be found in several translations: English (SUNYI Press), French (Hermann), German (Klostermann), Spanish (Biblioteca Nueva) ecc. New realism was discussed in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the Süddeutsche Zeitung. A monographic issue of the ‚“Monist“ (Edited by Maurizio Ferraris and Mario De Caro) will also shortly appear.Furthermore, the topic was re-elaborated both in Warum es die Welt nicht gibt by Markus Gabriel (Berlin, Ullstein Verlag 2013) and in Manifiesto del nuevo realismo analógico (Buenos Aires, Circulo Herméneutico 2013) by Mauricio Beuchot (México-UNAM) and José Luis Jerez (Argentina-UNCo).

History: In the frame of hermeneutics, as a reaction against its constructivist or nihilistic outcomes, Maurizio Ferraris has proposed the so-called “New Realism” (Manifesto del nuovo realismo, 2012), a philosophical orientation shared by both analytic philosophers – such as Mario De Caro (see Bentornata Realtà, ed by De Caro and Ferraris, 2012), and continental philosophers, such as Mauricio Beuchot (Manifesto del realismo analogico, 2013), and Markus Gabriel (Fields of Sense: A New Realist Ontology, 2014). New Realism also garnered the support of great thinkers such as Umberto Eco, Hilary Putnam and John Searle, intersecting with other realistic movements that arose independently but responding to similar needs, such as the “speculative realism” defended by the French philosopher Quentin Meillassoux and the American philosopher Graham Harman. For New Realism, the fact that it is becoming increasingly clear that science is not systematically the ultimate measure of truth and reality does not mean that we should say goodbye to reality, truth or objectivity, as was posited by much twentieth century philosophy. Rather, it means that philosophy, as well as jurisprudence, linguistics or history, has something important and true to say about the world.

In this context, New Realism presents itself primarily as a negative realism: the resistance that the outside world opposes to our conceptual schemes should not be seen as a failure, but as a resource – a proof of the existence of an independent world. If this is the case, however, this negative realism turns into a positive realism: in resisting us reality does not merely set a limit we cannot trespass, but it also offers opportunities and resources. This explains how, in the natural world, different life-forms can interact in the same environment without sharing any conceptual scheme and how, in the social world, human intentions and behaviors are made possible by a reality that is first given, and that only at a later time may be interpreted and, if necessary, transformed. Now that the season of postmodernism has died out, New Realism expresses the widespread need for renewal in extra-disciplinary areas such as architecture, literature, pedagogy and medicine.