Amit Pinchevski

Echo: The Virtues of Communication Under Constraints

Senior Lecturer of Communication and Journalism
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Communication and Journalism
Mount Scopus, Jerusalem; Israel

Capstone Conference Talk

Saturday (8/5) 2:50-3:10PM

Echology: The Virtues of Communication Under Constraints.

This project develops a counterintuitive theory of communication as enhancing of life. It consider echo as a fundamental medium of communication, hence “echology.” Taking its cue from the mythological Echo, who turned the curse of repeating the words of others into a creative resource, this project considers communicative constraints as redemptive. Echo is paradoxical: affirmative and partial, enhancive and detractive, and such paradoxes are the source of its richness. Covering diverse fields, from philosophy to literature, to acoustics, to technology, this project discovers echo as mediating the outside to the inside, and the other to the same. Prior to meaning, it is a form of primary relation.


Capstone Conference Research Laboratory

SATURDAY (8/5) 9:30-10:40AM

Politics and Enhancing Life: Disruption, Dialogue, and Democracy

The premise of our laboratory is that in order to engage fully the questions of enhancing life, one must explore it in relation to global political challenges. This is because global political challenges (e.g. climate disruption, terrorism, refugee crises, post-truth media) provoke questions about power (who’s got it, who doesn’t), value (forms and loci) and shared life (social and ecological, global and planetary) that directly bear on the questions of Enhancing Life Studies. The purpose of our laboratory is to test the utility of “Enhancing Life Studies” as a framework for interpreting and/or morally engaging global political challenges. Our group hypothesis is that Enhancing Life Studies provides a way of looking at global political challenges that illuminates them in new ways which we will explore in the laboratory. 

Research Laboratories allow audience members to interact with a panel of ELP Scholars and Interlocutors in addressing a problem of public relevance. We invite active participation from audience members in the creation of new knowledge.


Academic Biography

Amit Pinchevski is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication and Journalism at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, where he has been teaching since 2004, after completing his doctoral research at McGill University, Canada.  His research interests are in philosophy of communication and media theory, focusing specifically on the ethical aspects of the limits of communication, media as means of witnessing and memory, and pathologies of communication and their construction.  He is the author of By Way of Interruption: Levinas and the Ethics of Communication and coeditor of two books, Media Witnessing: Testimony in the Age of Mass Communication (with P. Frosh) and Ethics of Media (with N. Couldry and M. Madianou).  His work has appeared in academic journals such as Critical Inquiry, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Cultural Critique, Cultural Studies, Public Culture, and Critical Studies in Media Communication.  He is coeditor of the Philosophy/Communication book series for Duquesne University Press.  In 2011 he was a Visiting Scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and in the following year was the recipient of the James A. Jaksa Scholar in Residence award from the National Communication Ethics Conference.  He had previously been elected as a member of the Young Scholars Forum in the Humanities and Social Sciences of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.  Currently serving as the chair of the Philosophy, Theory and Critique Division of the International Communication Association, he is involved in research projects in Israel, the United States, Germany, and Sweden.

Project Executive Summary

This study seeks to develop a theory of communication as enhancing of life by regarding constraints to communication as productive.  At its core is echo—the figure, the concept, and the phenomenon—which serves as the paradigmatic basis for communication under constraints.  Taking a cue from the mythological Echo, who turned the curse of repeating the words of others into a source of creative maneuvering, this study proposes that communicational constraints—limitations of time, space, energy, and competency—are conducive to communication.  Echo spells an affirmative and responsive principle across nature and culture, offering a rich conceptual depository for the philosophy and theory of communication.  Combining voice and sound, echo invites rethinking basic assumptions in communication and media theory at the junction of self and other, embodiment and disembodiment, episteme and tekhne, transcendence and immanence.  That echo pervades both the physical and the spiritual worlds will be key to this exploration.  Focusing on the material conditions of communication will allow discovering echo as a fundamental medium of reflection and reception. The study comprises of four topics: (1) echo as a medium of perception; (2) echo as a medium of language; (3) echo as a technical medium; (4) echo as a medium of relation.  While covering a wide variety of issues, the goal is to examine how the limits of communication might prove redemptive.  Enhancing life through communication might thus entail embracing rather than overcoming constraints.  Perhaps it is only under constraints that the full consequences of communication become evident.