Rafael Capurro & John Holgate (eds)

Messages and Messengers /

Von Boten und Botschaften

Angeletics as an Approach to the Phenomenology of Communication /

Die Angeletik als Weg zur Phänomenologie der Kommunikation

Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2011, 351 pp.

As we can read in the Glossarium BITri, “’angeletics’ derives from Greek angelia, meaning message”. But this approach, proposed by our colleague Rafael Capurro since the 1990s, does not refer to angels or divine messengers –as in the angelology–, it aims instead at studying “the social phenomenon of messages and messengers”, which “is a vast, old and complex phenomenon”. In our digital age, the question is “to what extent the internet creates a new angeletic space giving rise to new synergies of messages and messengers beyond the hierarchical structure of mass media” (p.13). Or considering the global transformation of our communicational means and our cultures as a whole, we may even ask more dramatically: Are we moving towards an “angelical” world or rather towards a “dysangelical” one (i.e., “a time of empty angels” using Sloterdijk’s expression)? (p.13, 195)… Although these questions undoubtedly move in the territory of the very complex human systems, the analysis of messages –as we can see in the book– also reaches the field of natural sciences and technology (for instance, the physical constraints of messages and the rise of meaning through the growing complexity of biological systems). This book –the first one entirely dedicated to angeletics– is structured in two parts: fundaments, where former and new texts stating the principles of Angeletics are compiled, and applications, where the analysis of messages and messengers is extended to different fields.


CONTENTS: Foreword (R. Capurro); Introduction (J. Holgate, R. Capurro);  I. FOUNDATIONS: Angeletics — A Message Theory (R. Capurro); Theorie der Botschaft (R. Capurro); A Dialogue on Intercultural Angeletics (R. Capurro, M. Nakada); The Hermesian Paradigm (J. Holgate); Circulating Messages to Every Body and No Body (M. Eldred); Plotinus’ Angeletics: A Neoplatonic Message Theory (G. Stamatellos); Anmerkungen zu einer Theorie der Botschaft (M. Knödler-Pasch); Political Economy and the Double Dialectic of Information (R.E. BABE); Beyond Humanisms (R. Capurro); II. APPLICATIONS: Botschaften ohne Botschafter — Botschafter ohne Botschaften (K. Wiegerling); Messages in an Open Universe (J.M. Díaz Nafría); Systemtheorie — Von der Hermeneutik zum Konstruktivismus (H.H. Diebner); Communities of Action and the Message Society (W. Hofkirchner); Orts-Botschaften. Orte in Jordanien und Syrien (G. Grossklaus); Marginalien zur Angeletik (C. Coenen); Angeletics and Epistemology — Angeletics as Epistemology (P.-H. Wong); Carbon Atoms as Prime Messengers for the Origins of Life (K. Matsuno); On the Relevance of Angeletics and Hermeneutics for Information Technology (R. Capurro, T. Takenouchi, L.M. Tkach-Kawasaki, T. Iitaka).

A small selection of fragments to provide a taste of the work:

“How do we distinguish messages at the human level from messages, say, at the DNA-level? I call the view of natural processes as angeletic processes the postal paradigm. Taking into consideration the original twofold meaning of the term ‘information’ as ‘moulding matter’ and as ‘knowledge communicated’  we can say that a cell or, more generally, a living system, is in-formed on the basis of message selection in order to satisfy its constraints.” (Capurro: Angeletics-A message theory, p.37)

“If Narcissus represents the world of fame and the beautiful people, Dionysus the world of sex drugs and rock and roll and Nike the realm of sporting competition then Hermes is the god of art language and creativity. To adopt the Hermesian Paradigm opens up creative perspectives for ICT.” (Holgate: The hemesian paradigm, p.109)

“On both a deeper and a more superficial level, therefore, there is always an ongoing struggle to disseminate one’s message and to get it across. The truth of the world at all levels is a power struggle.” (Eldred: Circulating messages to everybody and no body, p.114)

“Extreme inequality (i.e., concentration of control) in the capacity to communicate is incompatible with democracy. Literally, democracy means the people govern. To the extent that a small minority controls the means of communication and successfully uses those means primarily to further its own ends, democracy is reduced. Democracy requires both an informed public and ways for making its wishes known.” (Babe: Political Economy and the Double Dialectic of Information, p.147)

“In 1947, Kotelnikov found out – in his mathematical inquiry to improve reception – the optimal way to get rid of noise given a known set of possible messages. The current architecture of optimal receptors follows the path depicted by Kotelnikov, which does not deviate from the course pointed out by Plato in his theory of ideas and the later idealist tradition.” (Díaz Nafría: Messages in an Open Universe, p.195)

“…new ICTs can become meaningful technologies that foster communities of action that are needful for the preservation and improvement of the human condition.” (Hofkirchner: Communities of Action and the Message Society, p.256)

“Messengers are ubiquitous in the biological world. Typical examples are messenger RNA molecules or mRNA mediating between DNA molecules residing on chromosomes in the nucleus of a cell and a ribosomal synthesis of protein molecules in the cytoplasm. Messenger RNA molecules are busy in shuttling between the nucleus and the cytoplasm for synthesizing the proteins according to the instructions coded on DNA molecules.” (Matsuno: Carbon Atoms as Prime Messengers For the Originis of Life, p.305)