Wisdom on the Line: Understanding the Role of Online Information in the Good Life

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In the present paper the focus will be to examine the practical implications and potential consequences that the lack of wisdom in the production and communication of online information has for internet users who are actively engaged in compmediated communications (CMCs), in particular, communications on social network sites (SNSs) such as Facebook, YouTube and Second Life, amongst others, as well as other forms of digital communications such as, for example, mobile telephone communications, particularly in the form of SMS communications. A key claim the paper will seek to support through argument is that insofar as CMCs can potentially prove conducive to taraxia (perturbation of the mind or soul) they can reduce or undermine one's capacity for ataraxia (inner-peace), which is a key feature of eudemonia: a life of reflective well-being lived in accordance with wisdom. As such, an aspiring wise person (AWP) should as far as possible avoid CMCs and only engage in them if necessary with caution and prudence. This is in keeping with the Stoic and Epicurean advice of 'taking care of oneself ' one's soul and one's character'.The primary aim of this paper is a follow-up and more detailed examination comprising the practical implications and potential consequences, which pertains to an earlier exploration of the axiological value of internet information for the good life, both with regard to individuals and society generally, that was first discussed in a paper presented at the CEPE 2009 conference in Corfu. In exploring the value of information for the good life, the paper will adopt a Socratic ground-up method of definitional enquiry (Benson 2000) to first determine (a) what information is and (b) what constitutes a good life (Spence in press 2009 and Spence 2007). Following that initial conceptual exploration, the paper will seek to further explore the relationship between information and the good life through an examination of the dual concepts of knowledge and wisdom (Spence, CEPE 2009 conference presentation). It will be argued that only wisdom, understood broadly as a type of meta-knowledge that results in reflective knowledge (Tiberius 2008) or understanding (Kvanvig 2003) is capable of leading an aspiring wise individual to the attainment of the good life, understood as eudemonia (loosely translated in this paper as 'virtuous wellbeing resulting in self-fulfillment' (Spence 2006; Gewirth 1998). By contrast, the paper will also argue that information by itself not only is not sufficient for the attainment of the good life but it can, moreover in certain circumstances, undermine the attainment of the good life by either undermining the individual's capacity for attaining virtue, a necessary condition for the attainment of the good life, or worse, rendering the individual vicious, a necessary condition for attaining a bad life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationECAP09
Subtitle of host publication7th Conference proceedings
EditorsJordi Vallverdu Segura
Place of PublicationBarcelona
PublisherUniversitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventEuropean Conference on Computing and Philosophy (ECAP) - Barcelona, Spain., Spain
Duration: 02 Jul 200904 Jul 2009


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Computing and Philosophy (ECAP)


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