Human Studies

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 57–76 | Cite as

On the Meaning of Screens: Towards a Phenomenological Account of Screenness

  • Lucas D. IntronaEmail author
  • Fernando M. Ilharco


This paper presents a Heideggerian phenomenological analysis of screens. In a world and an epoch where screens pervade a great many aspects of human experience, we submit that phenomenology, much in a traditional methodological form, can provide an interesting and novel basis for our understanding of screens. We ground our analysis in the ontology of Martin Heidegger's Being and Time [1927/1962], claiming that screens will only show themselves as they are if taken as screens-in-the-world. Thus, the phenomenon of screen is not investigated in its empirical form or conceptually. It is rather taken as a grounding intentional orientation that conditions our engagement with certain surfaces as we comport ourselves towards them “as screens.” In doing this we claim to have opened up the phenomenon of screen in a new and meaningful way.


communication computer Heidegger information systems information technology media phenomenology screens television 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aristotle (1998). The Metaphysics. Trans. H. Lawson-Tancred. London: Penguin Classics.Google Scholar
  2. Borgmann, A. (1999). Holding on to Reality: The Nature of Information at the Turn of the Millenium. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. CIAI (2004). Computer Industry Almanac., 14/01/02.Google Scholar
  4. CNN (2001). CNN news. “U.S. wants its MTV to get message out in Arab world”., 20/11/2001.Google Scholar
  5. Fry, T. (Ed.) (1993). RUA TV? Heidegger and the Televisual. Sydney: Power Publications.Google Scholar
  6. Hammond, M., Howarth, J. and Keat, R. (1991). Understanding Phenomenology. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Hegel, G. F. (1807/1977). The Phenomenology of Spirit. Trans. A.V. Miller. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  8. Heidegger, M. (1927/1962). Being and Time. Trans. J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Heidegger, M. (1955/1977). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. New York: Harper Torchbooks.Google Scholar
  10. Heidegger, M. (1950/1984). Early Greek Thinking: The Dawn of Western Philosophy. San Francisco: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  11. Heidegger, M. (1975/1988). The Basic Problems of Phenomenology. Trans. A. Hofstadter. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Heim, M. (1993). The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Heim, M. (1999). Electric Language. New York: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Husserl, E. (1913/1964). The Idea of Phenomenology. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  15. Husserl, E. (1954/1970). The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Husserl, E. (1931/1995). Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  17. Ihde, D. (1990). Technology and the Lifeworld: From Garden to Earth. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Ihde, D. (1993). Philosophy of Technology – an Introduction. New York: Paragon House.Google Scholar
  19. Ihde, D. (2002). Bodies in Technology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  20. Ingarden, R. (1962/1989). The Ontology of the Work of Art. Trans. R. Meyer with J. T. Goldthwait. Ohio: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Introna, L. and Ilharco, F. (2000). The Screen and the World: A Phenomenological Investigation into Screens and our Engagement in the World. In R. Baskerville et al. (Eds.), Organizational and Social Perspectives on Information Technology. Dordrecht: Kluwer, pp. 295–319.Google Scholar
  22. King, M. (2001). A Guide to Heidegger' Being and Time. J. Llewelyn (Ed.), Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kockelmans, J.J. (1972). Language, Meaning and Ek-sistence. J. J. Kockelmans (Ed.), On Hedegger and Language. Evanston: Northwestern University Press: pp. 3–32.Google Scholar
  24. Macann, C. (1993). Four Phenomenological Philosophers: Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Manovich, L. (1995). An Archeology of a Computer Screen. Moscow: Soros Center for the Contemporary Art.Google Scholar
  26. Manovich, L. (2001). The Language of New Media. Chicago: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. McLuhan, M. (1962). The Gutenberg Galaxy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  28. McLuhan, M. (1964/1994). Understanding Media. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  29. McLuhan, M. (1967/2001). The Medium is the Massage. Corte Madera: Gingko Press.Google Scholar
  30. Moran, D. (2000). Introduction to Phenomenology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  31. Nietzsche, F. (1887/1974). The Gay Science. New York: Vintage.Google Scholar
  32. RM (2002). Rob Magazine Online., 9/1/02.Google Scholar
  33. Scott, T. (1999). No TV, No Problem? The Guardian (London), December 7, 1999, Guardian Features Pages, p. 17.Google Scholar
  34. Sobchack, V. (1991). The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Sobchack, V. (1994). The Scene of the Screen: Envisioning Cinematic and Electronic “Presence.” In H. U. Gumbrecht and K. L. Pfeiffer (Eds.), Materialities of Communication. Stanford: Stanford University Press, pp. 83–106.Google Scholar
  36. Sobchack, V. (1999). Toward a Phenomenology of Nonfictional Film Experience. In J. Gaines and M. Renov (Eds.), Collecting Visible Evidence. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 243–254.Google Scholar
  37. Spiegelberg, H. (1975). Doing Phenomenology. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.Google Scholar
  38. Spiegelberg, H. (1994). The Phenomenological Movement – A Historical Introduction. 3rd ed. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  39. Thevenaz, P. (1962). What Is Phenomenology? And Other Essays. Chicago. Quadrangle Books.Google Scholar
  40. Tran, M. (2001). Life Outside the Box. The Guardian (London), February 21, 2001, Guardian Features Pages, p. 7.Google Scholar
  41. Turkle, S. (1995). Life On the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  42. Wearden, G. (2005). Nokia Ups Mobile Market Predictions. ZDnet. hardware/mobile/0,39020360,39179947,00.htm, 22/4/05.Google Scholar
  43. Wittgenstein, L. (1953/1967). Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lancaster UniversityLancasterUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations