What is an internet? Norbert Wiener and the society of control

Nemenyi, Daniel (2019) What is an internet? Norbert Wiener and the society of control. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


By means of a philosophical reading of Norbert Wiener, founder of cybernetics, this thesis attempts to derive anew the concepts of internet and control. It develops upon Wiener’s position that every age is reflected by a certain machine, arguing that the internet is that which does so today. Grounded by a critical historiography of the relation between the Cold War and the internet’s invention in 1969 by the ‘network’ of J. C. R. Licklider, it argues for an agonistic concept of internet derived from Wiener’s disjunctive reading of figures including Claude Bernard, Walter Cannon, Benoît Mandelbrot, John von Neumann and above all, his Neo-Kantian inflected reading of Leibniz. It offers a counter-theory of the society of control to those grounded by Spinoza’s ethology, notably that of Michael Hardt and Toni Negri, and attempts to establish a single conceptual vocabulary for depicting the possible modes of conflict through which an internet is determined.

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