4/2: Thing I

Please post a question or comment regarding Bogost’s book Alien Phenomenology.



  1. On page 9 Bogost says, “If we take seriously the idea that all objects recede interminably into themselves, then human perception becomes just one among many ways that objects might relate. To put things at the center of a new metaphysics also requires us to admit that they do not exist just for us.” What does he mean by this?

  2. In chapter 3 of Alien Phenomenology, Bogost discusses “the subjective character of experience”(62). What is this? Is it possible to truly experience in our human form, or is it not?

  3. Do you agree with Bogost’s overarching idea that nothing exists more or less than anything else for example that humans are not primary elements of philosophical interest?

  4. do you think Bogost’s philosophy in which nothing exists any more or less than anything else, in which humans are elements, but not the sole or even primary elements, of philosophical interest is true? not true? has some truth?

  5. Chapter 3 ends with Steven Hawking’s joke about turtles standing upon turtles, and Bogost claims that metaphors behave in a similar way–each one slightly changing the previous one without end until the original causation is no longer “correlated” with the final result. To what does this metaphor apply? To what does it not apply?

  6. How can things be “independent from their constituent parts while remaining dependent on them?” How is this possible and what kind of structure would that create.

  7. On page 29, Bogost uses the green chile and integrated circuit as examples of “things left to themselves and as things interacting with other, us among them.” He talks about the importance of understand these objects roles in our lives. Do you agree with him? Do you think it is important to know why and how these objects can harm or benefit us?

  8. Are we training ourselves to interact as a “thing” ? For example have our conversations become more like report in effort to be more time efficient?

  9. “All things equally exist, yet they do not exist equally” (p. 11). What does Bogost mean by this and what context does he mean this by?

  10. I can understand in a broad sense that all things exist the same, but it is difficult when thinking of media for example to grasp how the person that created the medium is not above it. Moreover, how can the objects we create exist as much as us, because they could not have existed without us?

  11. On page 40, Bogost says, ” Lists remind us that no matter how fluidly a system may operate, its members nevertheless remain utterly isolated, mutual aliens” (Bogost, 40). Do you think that we are “isolated mutual aliens” with technology today?

  12. According to Bogost, the terminology that is appropriate to use in terms of the interaction of “things” would be to use the phrase “unit operation”. In terms of “things”, I think of anything unliving or an inanimate object, however, as Bogost discusses his terminology, he seems to be saying that this sort of language should be used with anything that may not be “human” oriented. So, my question is, would Bogost believe in using this terminology for animals or aliens rather than simply machines?

  13. The conflict between scientific naturalism and social relativism seems trivial, (13) but they are both necessary for proper societal & technological advancement – by this logic it does not make sense that there is a cultural idea that we must choose one or the other – that they are mutually exclusive. However, what determines which is more important at a given moment?

  14. On page 9-10 Bogost states, “To be sure, computers often do entail human experience and perception. To human operator views words sand images rendered on a display, applies physical forces to a mouse, seats memory chips into motherhood sockets.”

    What does Bogost mean when he says that “computers often do entail human experience and perception”? How do we see this in technology today? (For example, the advancement of the iPhone/android)

  15. Bogost states, “Human culture is allowed to be multifarious and complex, but the natural or material world is only ever permitted to be singular.” I don’t understand this sentence just because when I think of the natural world, I don’t think of it in a singular way. What does the author mean by this?

  16. There was talk about specific relationships and ones relation to them, is the social media world one that developed from the twenty first century?

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