VERSO IL CONCRETO: UN MOTO ELETTRICO?
ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD E MARSHALL MCLUHAN PARTIGIANI DELL’INTESA DELL’OCCHIO CON L’ORECCHIO
Can we assume that the movement suggested by the title of Jean Wahl’s work of 1932, Vers le concret, is an effect of the electric media revolution? Can we see in the empiricism of Henri Bergson, William James and Alfred North Whitehead the deferral action of the impact of what Marshall McLuhan called “organic” media as opposed to the “mechanical” media dominant in the old “Gutenberg Galaxy”? Arguing that there are good reasons to answer “yes” to both questions, we will start from a preliminary hypothesis: to claim, as Whitehead does, that philosophy has to critique the abstractions of language and give voice to the concreteness of the real, means to declare oneself contemporary of the electric age. And since also the empiricism studied by Wahl critiques abstractions by focusing on the concrete, the “new” empiricism is an electric philosophy too. To prove it, we first will compare McLuhan’s media aesthetics and Whitehead’s processual cosmo-aesthetics. Then, we will analyse the fallacies of misplaced concreteness criticised by Whitehead and their product: the scientific materialism. Later, relying on McLuhan’s thesis, we will argue that both are consequences of the phonetic alphabet and of its specific kind of intelligence. Finally, we will argue in favour of using Whitehead’s theory of symbolism as a tool to understand the experience shaped by the new media.