Azimuth 22 front

Epistemic Bubbles, Echo Chambers, and the Digital Infosphere

Azimuth n. 22 – 2023 (II)
Edited by F. Pisano, A. Scala

Genealogy and the Present Thought

Azimuth. Philosophical Coordinates in Modern and Contemporary Age is a highly-scientific review headed for an international public, that would be interested in the double orientation of philosophy, as it is conceived by the editors: it is genealogy of problems and themes in the modern Age as well as reinterpretation of them in the present days. This two-dimensional attitude also explains the name chosen, Azimuth, thati is the English translation from arabic term as-sûmut, indicating the distance from a point to the plane of reference, which gives the necessary coordinates to determine the position of a celestial body. The aim is to provide the necessary coordinates to guide human thinking through the elaborate, stratified reality of the present days, which requires an intersection of different knowledges and approaches in order to be understood in its complexity.

Latest Issues

From its founding in 2013 to the present, Azimuth has played a role in mapping contemporary philosophical debate on a variety of topics, revolving around three key thematic areas: philosophy of technology, aesthetics & pol­itics, and the history of ideas and cultures. The overall research and editorial intent have been to investigate the way in which philosophical reflection in­tersected and confronted with those other forms of knowledge that, in each of these areas, are decisive for a critical understanding of phenomena. Ten years after the beginning of the publication, the critical landscape that Azimuth has drawn can be weighed and evaluated in relation to the present and the way philos­ophy continues to articulate itself in the thematic and institutional confron­tation with other forms of knowledge. What did the progressive hybridization with disciplines whose method­ologies are often radically different from the philosophical one mean for philosophy in the last ten years? Which methodological transformations have become necessary? With respect to which specific problems within the in­dicated macro-areas is the philosophical contribution recognized as pivotal by scholars of other disciplines? What does it mean to “do philosophy”, to “practice philosophy” in a historical and cultural horizon of growing com­plexity and interconnection like the present one?


The notion of ‘immersivity’ is a pivotal element in the description of tech­nologically mediated experience, designating an inherent quality of objects, spaces and more generally situations able to produce an impression of im­mersion. Different from the notion of ‘immersion’ itself – which describes «a process of reception» focusing on sensations and feelings of the subject of experience – «immersivity designates a process of production» (Freitag et alii, 2020). The issue pays a special attention to the conditions of possibility, both material and immaterial, of immersive experiences: tech­nologies, environments, materials, practices, but also theoretical, ideological and political frames.


The present issue discusses the uses, opportunities and misuses of the recent evolutionary research program when approaching key issues in contemporary philosophical thought. One aim of the current issue is to illustrate past and current avenues of productive dialogue between biology – evolutionary biology, in particular – and philosophy. Further, the issue investigates what the evolutionary conceptual and empirical repertoire can teach us about life and human nature conundrums and which interpretative paths, previously left unexplored by classic philosophical approaches, arise from such perspective. Never as in contemporary philosophical debates, the Darwinian perspective emerged as a vital tool or, in John Dewey’s words, as “the greatest dissolvent in contemporary thought of old questions, the greatest precipitant of new methods, new intentions, new problems”.


The term “diaspora” is situated in a field of tension between identities and otherness, stability and migration. Today, exile still represents a political and philosophical challenge to the local needs of the nation-state, which must define its borders in order to exercise control. Galut, exile or movement, belongs to the Jewish tradition, not only from a historical but also from a theological perspective. In this issue, the connection between homeland, identity and mother-tongue will be analyzed within the framework of 20th-century Jewish thought, namely through the reflections of relevant thinkers such as Franz Rosenzweig, Margarete Susman, Hannah Arendt, Elias Canetti, Jacques Derrida, Vilem Flusser, Paul Celan, and Edmond Jabes. In the Jewish tradition, language becomes a substitute for the lost homeland, the missing mother, and the homeland. By contrast to belonging to a concrete country, the homeland in this case mainly consists of a body of texts, a language, and a cultural tradition. Thus, we are concerned here with an abstract heritage that is not connected with any territorial delimitation.


The main purpose of this issue is to develop a genealogical and critical approach to populist theories and practices. We propose to analyze the historical emergency, within the last two centuries, of processes of democratization that lead to different forms of conceiving and theorizing the people and its emancipation. Particularly, we aim to critically engage with the broad spectrum of post-Marxist and post-structuralist theories that, since the groundbreaking work of Ernesto Laclau, have further extended his intellectual legacy. To question this philosophical-political framework should produce an enlargement of the ways of understanding and enacting current democratic challenges, beyond the spectrum of populism.

This issue of Azimuth aims at exploring the possibilities that re­cent theoretical and methodological reflections can offer for the diagnosis of present social pathologies. In particular, the Editors have collected papers which are representative of the way in which Critical Theory is trying nowadays to re-establish a link between social philosophy and empirical research on the background of an interdisciplinary approach which includes psychoanalysis, sociology, epistemology, and the natural sciences. Taken together, these dif­ferent lines of research show the fertility and vitality of a tradition, as well as they point out some contradictions and some worrying signs of regression in our societies.

This volume of Azimuth is intended to explore different areas of knowledge that remain uncharted within the heritage of phenomenology lato sensu. It is therefore divided in three distinct sections: the first one considers all those authors that have nourished the ground on which Husserl’s phenomenology has arisen (Trendelenburg, Brentano, Lipps, Stumpf, Eucken, Sigwart); the second one focuses on the early disciples of Husserl, with special regard to those emerging from the circles of Munich and Gottingen (Schapp, Reinach, Geiger, Pfänder, Scheler, Ingarden, Conrad-Martius, Heidegger); the last one examines those scholars that moved towards or against Husserl’s late inquiries, and that can be considered the depositaries of the phenomenological legacy in the second half of the 20th century (Fink, Patočka, Landgrebe, Rombach, Blumenberg, Levinas). The volume also includes the Italian translation of Ricoeur’s essay on Husserl’s and Wittgenstein’s late notion of language, translated by A. Tsoullos and revised by J.-M. Tétaz.

What role does subjectivity play in digital culture? This question implies a clarification, first, of what exactly we mean by digital culture, and, second, of what a subject is within digital culture. While the 19th century was characterized by print culture and the 20th century by broadcasting culture, we are now experiencing a new paradigm shift: digital technology has radically changed the way we produce (and consume) information, goods, values, social relationships, institutional bonds, etc. The influence of new digital media in contemporary advanced societies, the role played by the Internet and social networking on a global scale, the possibilities disclosed by IT, communication by means of digital tools such as smartphones, tablets, laptops etc., gaming, and GPS technologies – just to name a few: these are all aspects that contribute to the construction of a digital culture in the form of an increasingly virtual, augmented and hyperlinked society. With this issue, our aim is to provide an interdisciplinary overview of the most problematic features of digital culture and the digital self according to contemporary debate, which might suggest new directions for future research and collaborative work – READ MORE

Since the early nineties, the reception of Vilém Flusser was mainly focused on his media theory. If on the one hand this focus allowed to launch the first development in the study of Flusser’s ideas, on the other hand, it ended to conceal other relevant topics and theoretical attempts of the Czech-born philosopher. Even if his work appears fragmented into several disciplines and areas, there is an original source that produces this variety of topics and methodologies: a deep connection between exile, creativity, and thought. As a matter of fact, Flusser’s philosophy is thinking in exile between nations and national identities across different languages (German, Portuguese, English, and French), between and outside defined disciplines and scientific fields, after history and geography, maybe also beyond man. The purpose of this issue of Azimuth is to map this – not yet sufficiently explored – intersection in Flusser’s thought, by taking into account the complexity of his multifaceted thinking and the overlapping of different fields – READ MORE

Azimuth 12 Technology and the Sublime

The issue explores the intricate passage from the natural sublime to the technological sublime as well as their coexistence, suggesting ways to interpret the multiple and diffused relations between humanity, nature, and technology. In this framework, the focus is not only on sublime experiences when they occur in the presence of grandiose, impressive technological objects. Rather, the issue seeks to unveil practices of exploring and mastering nature that, at the same time, could be the vehicle for sublime experiences. For example, the tremor of the Earth provoked by the launch of a rocket, or the sense of uncertainty and probability inspired by computers, with their power of turning the universe into collections of elements combinable ad infinitum, give rise to sublime emotions that blend together fear and attraction, concern and satisfaction, danger and magnificence. READ MORE

Azimuth Michel Henry Phenomenology

Con lo spirito di rafforzare e aprire i dibattiti intorno all’opera e al pensiero di Michel Henry, e soprattutto di approfondire l’analisi della fitta rete di connessioni storiche e teoretiche che intessono e sostanziano la fenomenologia henryana, questo numero monografico risponde ad una duplice esigenza: da un lato, sollecitare specialisti di diversi ambiti (storia della filosofia moderna e contemporanea, fenomenologia, etica, ermeneutica) ad interrogare, sotto un profilo a un tempo tematico e prospettico, i rapporti di influenza e di contrasto tra le maggiori correnti del pensiero europeo e la fenomenologia henryana, e stabilire in tal modo le sue possibili aperture ulteriori; dall’altro, saggiare i possibili ambiti di confronto e di dialogo con la principali tendenze della filosofia dei nostri giorni, senza per questo ignorare – ma, al contrario, valorizzando, gli aspetti storici relativi alla fenomenologia materiale di Michel Henry. Precorritrice del “tournant théologique de la phénoménologie française”, la filosofia di Michel Henry si è infatti sempre distinta nella sua specificità, per la sua irriducibilità a nessuna delle coeve correnti maggiori della fenomenologia contemporanea. In effetti, la filosofia di Michel Henry è ben più che una mera riflessione critica interna alla fenomenologia. READ MORE

Intersections: At the Technophysics of Space is devoted to an engagement with the ways in which space can be thematised anew in the face of its historical consignation as a stable, foundational category. Interpreted by Plato as receptacle (chōra), by Aristotle as place (topos), by Descartes as extension, by Leibniz as principle of individuation, by Kant as transcendental condition of apperception—space from antiquity to modernity has been thought, interpreted or produced as a constant; its various transformations reinstating its immutability. The same logic continues to govern physical theories of general gravitation and general relativity, as well as mathematical theories of topology, which despite breaking with the idea of space as a single universal dimension, remain for the most part attached to a general theory of space. This generality and quasi-universality blinds thought to the singularity, locality, provisionality and mutability of contemporary technological spaces. The present collection of essays revisits this genealogy, in order to draw on and recast its moments; in order to think the nature of space and accordingly the space of nature, in its (in-)distinction from technologically produced spaces. Questions on the function and implications of new political, urban, ecological, aesthetic and other spaces are opened through a rigorous theoretical examination of a series of foundational articulations of space, as the latter withdraws in the hands of technology, leaving a spectre in its place. READ MORE

The issue explores a particular domain at the intersection of different human sciences, such as anthropology, literature, philosophy and the cultural studies. The complex constellation constituted by the – parallel and yet different – fields of the German “Kulturwissenschaften” and the Anglo-American cultural studies is inquired from two complementary perspectives: by analyzing the peculiar aspects, inner differentiations and specific focus of these two traditions, on the one side, and by exploring their mutual influence, on the other side; i.e., by considering and comparing the most important authors and consistent schools, the respective methodologies, the local manifestations as well as the historical, theoretical and thematic backgrounds of both traditions. READ MORE

The issue explores a particular domain at the intersection of different human sciences, such as anthropology, literature, philosophy and the cultural studies. The complex constellation constituted by the – parallel and yet different – fields of the German “Kulturwissenschaften” and the Anglo-American cultural studies is inquired from two complementary perspectives: by analyzing the peculiar aspects, inner differentiations and specific focus of these two traditions, on the one side, and by exploring their mutual influence, on the other side; i.e., by considering and comparing the most important authors and consistent schools, the respective methodologies, the local manifestations as well as the historical, theoretical and thematic backgrounds of both traditions. READ MORE

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The “onlife” condition is a living sphere in which our practical and ethical action do not need to distinguish between informational and non-informational objects. For this reason, in the last twenty years digital technologies have generated a strong interest in the philosophical scenario and, since digital tracking has become a daily routine, it started gathering around itself the work of many philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists and media theorists. The aim of this seventh issue of Azimuth is to stir a philosophical debate in the belief that digital traces can offer a new paradigm starting from which we can re-think Humanism and the human being, its environment and its technical action in the world. In other words, we suggest the possibility a computational turn in philosophy comparable with the computational turn we have seen in many ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sciences in these last ten or fifteen years. READ MORE

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What does it mean to perform obscenity? How can the borders of obscenity be defined, given that it deals with a huge variety of topics, ranging from eroticism to violence, from transgression to the exercising of power? In the last thirty years, thanks to an increased interest in the body, pornography has become a philosophical subject, which has acquired – starting from Foucault – a paradigmatic role in the works of Agamben, Han, Žižek and the vast constellation of gender studies. Pornography does not concern only the display of sexually explicit content, but because of the use and consumption which lie at the heart of cyberporn, it is an extreme metaphor of contemporary culture in which desire and capitalism are combined. In an attempt to shed light on a wide range of aspects – with regard to an aesthetic mediology, a politics of the body and a semantics of desire – , this volume collects different essays in order to investigate obscenity as a philosophical tool and a cultural category of the present age. On the one hand, it has been investigated as a theoretical device, a filter for the analysis of social processes, a gender challenge, a social form of power and pleasure; on the other hand, by dealing with cultural visibility, it involves many different medias: from cinema to literature, from art to photography, from ancient statuary to Youporn. READ MORE

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As the keyword of the present issue the editors have chosen the term (and concept) of ‘exchange’. This has been envisaged as the theoretical linchpin enabling us to keep a sharp focus on the relations between economics and the social sciences, while moving beyond the all too current discourses on the issue of debt. We have thus set our sights on contributions that would approach the topic from a range of different angles, while centring the analysis on the two original macro-topics: economics and the humanities.


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The issue addresses the relationship between cosmology and ratio, or the dialectical and structural connection which links the same definition of “world” as an uniform, homogeneous, coherent and possible system with the very logical and narrative (and then uniform, homogeneous, coherent and possible) character of our rational description of it. Otherwise, every ratio mundi – understood both in a metaphysical or in an epistemological or in a phenomenological way – amounts, really because it is a ratio, as an explication and an articulation of an object formerly preunderstood and, so to speak, invented, cum discursu, or rather into specific logic and descriptive categories. Because of this structural co-belonging of the concept of “cosmos” to his own narrative dimension, we may can reduce the history of cosmology to a long sequence of depictions, but overall of creations and re-creations of the world, that allow us to distinguish in a only partial way a physical and naturalistic discussion from a theological, a metaphysical or a linguistical-imaginative one – READ MORE

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The term ‘Utopia’ has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt to create a perfect world and fictional societies portrayed in literature. However, far from being only a literary topic, ‘Utopia’ has got a critical and philosophical content that concerns the present time as well as the future. This third issue of Azimuth aims to investigate the relationship between language and politics in the utopian theoretical and political projects. Every political change is always a linguistic change as well: Utopias and Dystopias are connected to a semantic turn and to a different use of the language. This issue is focused on the well-known Utopias of the past, the global challenges of the present time and the linguistic Utopias in poetry and philosophy. Nowadays, there here is a renewed interest in Utopian studies. In the current global crisis, reflecting upon Utopia could be a philosophical tool to build a new strategy of resistance, to create a new way of living together and to organize pessimism in the hope of making a better future – READ MORE

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If one tried answer the traditional Arendtian question about “human condition” today, from the point of view of our present times, one should undoubtedly say that the very proper feature of contemporary human beings is their inter-connectivity – their connectedness to the world as well to ways of sharing it and inhabiting it. We don’t use this term lightly: “inter-connectivity” means not only “interconnection”, which of course refers to the social, cultural, and political bonds that make possible our living-together. These relationships have always been part of human societies and represent a traditional topic of (political-)philosophical thought. More precisely (and maybe even more radically), “inter-connectivity” also refers to the sphere of relations mediated by technics and its applications: relations that define – more extensively and pervasively than in both ancient and modern times – not only our current living together in social and cultural systems, but also our being human – READ MORE

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The current issue looks into the concept of Man and in particular at the anthropological domain that this notion has represented at different times in the history of modern and contemporary western thought. It does this, however, by focusing on its cut-off points, where questions have revealed a fundamental instability at the root of the very concept of “human’’, thus attempting to show that every “theory of human nature’’ must by its very nature look beyond human nature as it identifies and ‘brings out’ to the point of alienation the inner grammar and constitutive logic of that combination of forces commonly known as ‘Man’ – READ MORE