O MAIOR FILÓSOFO SOBRE TECNOLOGIA DA NOSSA ERA. Egbert Schuurman (1937 - ) is a professor of Reformational philosophy at the Universities of Delft and Eindhoven and at the Agricultural University of Waneningen in the Netherlands. He is also a member of the Senate of the Dutch parliament. He studied under Dooyeweerd and Van Riessen at the Free University in Amsterdam.
Egbert Schuurman (1937 - ) is a professor of Reformational philosophy at the Universities of Delft
Our interaction with the richness and complexity of the “real” world is intuitive and tacit or ‘proximal’ (Polanyi, 1967). We know of the various types of things, what is real, and what is not. We gained this ability for many reasons least of all is through our evolutionary development. However, the same cannot be said of a “virtual” world which we create. This is primarily because of the presence of an interface, namely computer technology, between us and the virtual world.
Though this interface is crucial and facilitates the creation of such worlds it nevertheless, brings in added complexities which can make virtual worlds seem to be less real and hence less intuitive than the actual real world. Virtual worlds have expressions of physical objects but they may also have visual expressions of non-physical things, there are non-avatar objects which are crucial and important elements of these worlds, there are auditory shapes flying around the screen, and so on. If computer technology is to create virtual worlds that are very proximal to the richness and intuitiveness of the reality of the real world then we must have a good account of what constitutes this reality. This is undoubtedly a philosophical question.
Historically, reductionist schools of thought have had a major influence on our understanding of reality. Such an approach seems to be at odds with our everyday experience of reality which revolves around multiple and different modes of meaning. A typical object, such as plant, can have multiple meanings such as biotic, spatial, historical, commercial, aesthetic, and many more. Furthermore, none of these modes of meaning are at odd or in conflict with each other. It therefore, implies that the things we interact with in a virtual world might also have different modes of meaning and serve different purposes at the same time. This is a unique challenge for developers and designers for virtual worlds because of the limitations and restrictions imposed by existing reductionist frameworks of understanding.
This paper introduces a new way of addressing this challenge through the proposal of fifteen ways or modes of meaning developed by the Dutch philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd. We will then explores its application particularly through its notions of “Individuality Structures” followed by the notion of “Enkapsis”, to the question of modes of meaning and how this benefits the development of virtual reality applications and technologies.
Dooyeweerd, H. (1955). A new critique of theoretical thought (Vols. I-IV). Jordan Station, Ontario, Canada: Paideia Press. (Original work published 1953-1958)
Polanyi, M. (1967) The Tacit Dimension, London: Routledge & Keagan Paul.