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Alien Phenomenology, or What It's Like to Be a Thing$
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Ian Bogost

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816678976

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816678976.001.0001

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Alien Phenomenology

Alien Phenomenology

(p.1) [1] Alien Phenomenology
Alien Phenomenology, or What It's Like to Be a Thing

Ian Bogost

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explores the concept of alien phenomenology. SETI’s (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) fundamental assumption states that if there is life in the universe, it ought to be able to recognize its counterparts by pointing radio astronomy apparatuses like the VLA (Very Large Array) in their direction, and to understand their answer. In the 1980s, German American Philosopher Nicholas Rescher argued against SETI’s insistence that the signs of extraterrestrial life would resemble detectable communication technology. Rescher suggested that extraterrestrials are perhaps so alien that their science and technology is incomprehensible to us; we could never understand it as intelligence. The alien might not be life, at all. The alien is not limited to another person, or even another creature.

Keywords:   alien phenomenology, SETI, extraterrestrial life, universe, radio astronomy, Nicholas Rescher, extraterrestrials, science, technology, intelligence

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