Frederik Stjernfelt

Image of Prof. Frederik Stjernfelt
Copyright: Morten Holtum

c:o/re Senior Fellow 10/21-09/22

Frederik Stjernfelt is Professor at the Department of Communication, Aalborg University Copenhagen, Denmark. He is especially interested in the Peircean notions of diagrams, and in how propositions seem particularly relevant for philosophy of science and current internet developments where external, multimodal, truth-claiming representations such as diagrams, charts, matrices, maps, etc. are crucial. A further research interest is in philosophy of science. Since 2011, he has been commissioned by the Velux Foundation to conduct investigations of Danish humanities scholars, their data, methods, theories, research aims, dissemination, and collaborations, based on extensive questionnaire surveys. Furthermore, he also researches on the intellectual history of the Enlightenment and has recently published, with two historians, a large monograph on the Danish “Press Freedom Period” 1770-73. He has been visiting fellow at the Humboldt University (2010), the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, NZ (2017), and PUC Rio de Janeiro (2020).

The Digitally Extended Human – a Perspectivist Philosophical Anthropology

The ongoing digitization of communication, trade, administration, homes and much more in modern societies implies that new aspects of human beings are developed and discovered. Digitization continuously expands human capacities humans – while simultaneously making individuals and societies still more dependent upon the choices, kinds, and qualities of digital extensions. A strong argument can be made that the development of controlled extensions has been a crucial feature of human beings during all of historical, cultural evolution – cf. recent discussions of “the extended mind”. Such extension, however, is taking a new leap with digitization. This calls for a thorough revision of philosophical anthropology – understanding the essential features of human beings as a species. This tradition has not been strong in the recent era of postmodernism and constructivism, but the growing entanglement of humans with digital and other technologies calls for a reinvigoration of philosophical anthropology on a new, perspectivist basis.

Each single-discipline attempt at defining the essentials of being human is reductive. Humans are so complicated a phenomenon that they call for a perspectivist philosophical anthropology. There is a deeper reason that the study of human beings is spread over a large array of academic fields, from linguistics to biology, from archeology to sociology, from philosophy to economics, from psychology to the arts, from political to computer science, from history to law and religion. Human beings are, at one and the same time, rational agents, working constructors, emotional creatures, social animals, semiotic beings, transhumanist cyborgs, creative inventors, and more – and each of these facets of humanity tends to appear with a certain clarity in specific situations. Such perspectivism is no relativism, dependent upon subjective interpretation choices, rather an objective perspectivism claiming that human beings are multifaceted beings in need of an interdisciplinary investigation charting these different aspects, their tensions, and their interrelations.

Publications (Selection)

Stjernfelt, Frederik. 2021. “Peirce as a Truthmaker Realist: Propositional realism as backbone of Peircean metaphysics”. In Blityri. Studi di storia delle idee sui segni e le lingue, 11(2): pp. 123-36.

Stjernfelt, Frederik. 2020. Grov Konfækt: Tre vilde år med trykkefrihed 1770-73, I-II (with H. Horstbøll and U. Langen, Copenhagen: Gyldendal), English version in preparation: The World’s First Full Press Freedom: The Radical Experiment of Denmark-Norway 1770-73

Stjernfelt, Frederik. 2018. “Signs Conveying Information: On the Range of Peirce’s Notion of Propositions.” In Empirical Research on Semiotics and Visual Rhetoric, ed. by M. Danesi. Hershey, PA: IGI global, pp. 177-192.

Stjernfelt, Frederik. 2014. Natural Propositions: The Actuality of Peirce’s Doctrine of Dicisigns. Boston: Docent Press.

Stjernfelt, Frederik. 2007. Diagrammatology. An Investigation on the Borderlines of Phenomenology, Ontology, and Semiotics. Dordrecht: Springer.