Internet Omnipresence & Critical Thinking

Jeanne Proust at Online

Mon, Jun 22 at 8 p.m.   |   90 minutes   |  $125 for 5 sessions
Seminars: Intensive multi-part courses led by professors

In this experimental seminar, we will focus on technologies’ pervasive role in society, by exploring how the internet and social media affect our cognitive abilities, and our mental capacities for critical thinking.

In this experimental seminar, we will focus on technologies’ pervasive role in society, by exploring how the internet and social media affect our behavior, but also our cognitive abilities and mental capacities for critical thinking.

How can phones manipulate our attention, change our social dynamics, the way we interact with people, and affect our ability to be present to the world?

What are the biases induced by the use of internet as our main source of information?

Using an interdisciplinary approach, we will discuss together the psychological, social and political impact of internet technologies that most of us use daily. This class would aim at raising awareness of our dependency on internet and technologies, without denying nor undermining their beneficial aspects. We will also question the faith we collectively put into Big Data analysis.

The pandemic and the necessity for most of us to stay at home will obviously shed a peculiar light on these topics; your critical reflection about how quarantine can reshape our digital habits is strongly encouraged.



The class will be designed to actively engage all the participants. It will mostly aim at encouraging discussion among ourselves, but also with people outside of class.

I will ask the participants to lead “interviews” and act as public philosophers themselves: new technologies affect us all, and by collecting narratives from people who can talk about their experience, the students will document various ways of our daily use of technology. We will embark on a social experiment, using our phones (ironically?) for filming/recording purposes to act as both reporters and interviewees.

The interviews, led by participants, will explore:

- the ways smartphones and internet access affect our daily behavior, by having participants avoid any access to the internet for 24 hours, and share their reflection on how they felt about it. Topics like online dating, privacy, and digital identity will be discussed.

- the ways social media affect our opinions by building Internet communities and redefining our conception of democracy. Topics like big data, internet information, and digital equity will be discussed.



Session 1 – June 22nd

Introduction to Ethics of new technologies, opening discussion bringing examples of technology being used in productive, meaningful ways, and conversely, examples of what some people might consider misuse or overuse of technology today. 

Session 2 – June 29th

What do you do on your phones? Smartphones as the ultimate multi-tool, extension of our very hand. App analysis by groups (pairs, ideally). How do certain apps reshape the way we look at the world and behave?

Session 3 – July 6th

Who am I on social media, who are my friends? (Instagram, Facebook). Texting: what happens when we wait for an answer? 

Session 4 – July 13th

24 hours without access to the internet / 2 – Loneliness, boredom, and digital technologies.

Session 5 – July 20th

Democracy and Information on the internet: what type of citizens have we become?

Conspiracy theories, skepticism and critical thinking: What information is reliable on the net? How can we filter this immense amount of data?



Examples of resources we might use:

Baum, J.J. (2005). Cyber ethics: The new frontier. Tech Trends, 49(6), 54-55,78.

Bellinger, G., Castro, D., Mills, A. (2004). Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom.  Retrieved from (Links to an external site.).

 Budinger, T.F., & Budinger, M.D. (2006). Ethics of emerging technologies: Scientific facts and moral challenges. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons.

Bynum, T.W. (2008). Norbert Wiener & the rise of information ethics. In J. Van den Hoven, & J. Weckert, (Eds.), Information technology and moral philosophy (8-25).Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Cocking, D. (2008). Plural selves and relational identity: Intimacy and privacy online. In J. Van den Hoven, & J. Weckert, (Eds.), Information technology and moral philosophy (123-141).Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

DeVries, M. J. (2016).  Teaching about Technology - Contemporary Issues in Technology. (pp. 11-22) Springer International Publishing, Switzerland.

Ess, C. (2008). Culture and global networks: Hope for a global ethics? In J. Van den Hoven, & J. Weckert, (Eds.), Information technology and moral philosophy (195-225).Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Kaplan, D.M. (2004). Introduction. In D.M. Kaplan (Ed.), Readings in the philosophy of technology (xiii-xv). Lanham, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

McMahon, J. M., & Cohen, R. (2009). Lost in cyberspace: Ethical decision making in the online environment. Ethics and Information Technology, 11, 1-17.

Sunstein, C.R. (2008). Democracy and the internet. In J. Van den Hoven, & J. Weckert, (Eds.), Information technology and moral philosophy (93-110).Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.


Teacher: Jeanne Proust

Jeanne Proust's research focuses on Théodule Ribot’s Diseases of the Will, both in philosophical and psychological perspectives. While teaching at different universities here in New York, Jeanne is advocating for a widening of philosophical education beyond the academic frontiers.

Venue: Online

Zoom link will be sent upon signup.


$125 for 5 sessions

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