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Information Possession : murdoch, Exemplar of levinas's Totality

Abstract : This essay examines the controversy involving the News of the World tabloid in Great Britain and allegations related to the hacking of cell phone messages of celebrities, politicians, and other citizens involved in potentially important news and entertainment issues. Secondly, this essay examines the metaphor of possession played out through the insights of Emmanuel Levinas (1905-1995). Levinas's work is used to exemplify what this essay considers as the fundamental problem of the invasion of the privacy of another. Finally, this essay examines the urgency to deconstruct basic assumptions about the possession of information that is held by another. The title of this essay articulates the spirit of this deconstructive critique. It is necessary in this historical moment to dethrone possession as a social good. Possession of information of another strikes at the heart of human identity and must, in this historical moment, be fought with tenacity that has yet to be envisioned in the public domain. As believed by Jacques Ellul (1964), we live in an era in which we do things that can be done, not because they should be done. We live in an era in which the deconstruction of the presupposition that we should possess all information of another must now be publically enacted. Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation chairman and CEO, and the News of the World case is a commercial example of this ongoing communicative problem in the protection of human identity in an era defined by communicative immediacy and information possession.The Guardian's StoryThis essay examines The Guardian's July 2011 explication of the controversy involving actions of Murdoch's News of the World subsidiary and subsequent articles that texture this story about information exploitation. This essay then explores the day by day reporting of this controversy to the point of the collapse of the News of the World, with this essay engaging in follow-up articles that continue to examine Murdoch and his employees' missteps regarding information overreach that violates necessary informational "interspaces" (Arendt, 1955/1995, p. 31) in the public domain.When one does a communication audit, one looks for places, junctures, where the information passes from one department to another, or one major figure to another. In examining the story offered by The Guardian , this essay examines ethical communicative junctures in which information was passed from one entity to another, raising significant questions within the realm of what this essay terms as possession. These moments and times will then be explicated for consideration after outlining how this essay understands the notion of possession and its connection to the notion of totality, a central theme in the scholarship of Emmanuel Levinas.Possession The next section will then offer the practical and etymological significance of the notion of possession. Immediately after examining the etymological development of the notion of possession, this essay will explore Levinas's use of the term possession in of his writing. Specifically, this essay will connect the notion of possession with one of Levinas's principle privileged metaphors, totality. Levinas does not eliminate completely the viability of totality; totality is, however, both questioned and dramatically tempered within the ethical corpus of his work. Levinas (1989), known for the phrase "ethics as first philosophy," offers an ethical orientation otherwise than the normative convention of exploitation and possession of the other.The notion of possession changes the phenomenological reality of the text and/or the object under consideration. For example, to possess a child as a parent ceases to permit what a child is naturally supposed to do, which is to grow and individualize, forming a unique, independent identity. Levinas understands the importance of this form of individuation and differentiation. When a parent seeks to possess a child, the child's life is not propelled by individuation and difference, but by reflection of the parent himself. The child's life is then possessed, owned, shaped, and limited by another. The action resembles a form of interpersonal colonization. We live in an era in which the public colonization of information is before us, exemplified by the Murdoch-owned News of the World. The notion of possession dwells at the heart of any act of colonization. Levinas's "ethics as first philosophy" is arguably the richest critique of a culture of possession offered by an author of the 20th century, whose writings continue to shape questions of ethics and identity within the 21st century. This section will conclude with a description of Levinas's understanding of possession, an action metaphor that is situated deeply within Levinas's ethics project, which will then guide the final section of this essay.Deconstructing Information PossessionThis final section reviews those junctures in which communicative exchange occurred within the drama of the Murdoch-owned News of the World. This essay acknowledges that Murdoch stated lack of knowledge of the actions of the paper and concludes with the assertion that organizational identity makes particular practices more or less likely. The insights of Emmanuel Levinas assist in explicating the danger and the alternative possibilities manifested in the question of information possession that can ultimately lead to colonization of persons.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, July 2, 2013 - 5:03:10 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - 4:19:20 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-00840634, version 1



Ronald C. Arnett. Information Possession : murdoch, Exemplar of levinas's Totality. Communiquer dans un monde de normes. L'information et la communication dans les enjeux contemporains de la " mondialisation "., Mar 2012, France. ⟨hal-00840634⟩



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