ENGLISH: Mediology, founded by Régis Debray, is a new science that sets itself the goal of understanding how ideas are transmitted and become effective. It clearly stands in close relationship to hermeneutics, but this relation has not been explored yet. This article aims to indicate the affinity between mediology (represented here by Debray) and hermeneutics (for which Ricoeur has been chosen as representative), which centres on attention to symbolic efficiency. Three areas of converged interest are identified and discussed:
1/ the mutual implication of the technical milieu and the world of technics, 2/ the process of autonomisation and re-appropriation of media or texts and 3/ vigilance in politics.
1. THE TECHNICAL MILIEU AND THE WORLD OF TECHNICS: Transmission takes place in events during which the said survives the saying due to the way in which the saying took place. The said has to be deposited in a means of support and at the same time be transformed into a carrier by an institution. The medium thus consists of a technical and an institutional aspect. Though transmission is usually defined in distinction from communication, the minimal characteristics of transmission can be recognised even in dialogue. In fact, transmission of symbols and ideas takes place even in the absence of advanced technical support, as could be seen in the mnemosphere. It is the fact of inscription, wherever and however it takes place, which makes transmission possible. The manner in which all objects around human beings act as transmitters could be presented by taking clothes as paradigm. Clothes are objects that are invested with socio-historical meaning that exceeds their mere technical function of warming the body. That is why they carry messages of identity and contribute to socialisation. Our milieu or mediasphere is like an enormous item of clothing that introduces us to a world; we clothe ourselves with meaning by our association with things (and people). In this way we belong to a world. The milieu or mediasphere is the technical aspect of the world of meaning with which hermeneutics occupies itself. We belong to the milieu and to the world with a body that is simultaneously capable of the so-called technics of the body and constitutes our incarnate consciousness.
2. AUTONOMY AND APPROPRIATION OF THE MEDIUM/TEXT: Whereas the mediologist is concerned with the question of how the saying makes it possible for the said to survive, the hermeneuticist is interested in how the socio-technical saying can be reappropriated. It is only something from which one has been distanced that can form the object of interpretation. Discourse is, for Ricoeur, the form or primitive feature of distancing (distanciation);it is the situation in which someone says something to someone. Discourse is active as a dialectics of an event of meaning and of the meaning that is understood. Writing (i.e. discourse suspended from its event of meaning which has thus become autonomous) that is read, or an autonomous inscription that is re-appropriated, is thus the paradigmatic situation that hermeneutics analyses. The hermeneuticist tends to neglect the technical aspect of the autonomous inscription, which enjoys the attention of the mediologist, but both are concerned with symbolic efficiency. In this formula, hermeneutics tends to place the accent on "symbolic", and mediology on "efficiency". A message or meaning that is read by a reader (that always belongs to a community of readers that constitutes the institutional aspect of the medium and that influences the way in which it is read), is at the same time interpreted. If the "efficiency" of "symbolic" efficiency means anything, it is such an interpretative appropriation of meanings. The aim of transmission is appropriation and without appropriation no transmission has taken place. In appropriation, the suspended dialectics of the event of meaning and the meaning itself is restored, but at the same time transformed. Three different facets of the process of appropriation should be identified: understanding, explanation and interpretation. This holds equally for texts and for non-textual objects that apparently bare no message. If "explaining more, means understanding better", as Ricoeur's formula has it, this holds for any object with which the milieu is furnished.
3. VIGILANCE AND POLITICS: Mediology and hermeneutics concur that we have no direct access to ourselves as beings that understand the world. We are also influenced in our understanding of the world by the network of things that constitute the milieu. This means that our way of understanding ourselves and our world is influenced by means not completely accessible to us. The question of who or what has influence on our ways of transmitting ideas and of understanding things and ourselves, is an eminently political question. Politics is an important issue for mediology and for hermeneutics, since the matter of these two disciplines - symbolic efficiency in groups of people - is a main element of what constitutes politics and the means and power thereof. This does not mean that the two disciplines consist of active participation in politics, but they contribute to elucidate the workings and means of politics and of power in society in general. Both disciplines are practiced in the spirit of a political vigilance or suspicion. Three different facets of the process of appropriation should be identified: understanding, explanation and interpretation. This holds equally for texts and for non-textual objects that apparently bare no message. If "explaining more, means understanding better", as Ricoeur's formula has it, this holds for any object with which the milieu is furnished.
AFRIKAANS: Met die verloop van bykans twee dekades het Régis Debray 'n nuwe studieveld, genaamd mediologie, ontwikkel. Terwyl hy betoog vir 'n afgrensing van hierdie veld van semiologie, sosiologie, geskiedenis, kommunikasieteorie en ander menswetenskappe, ontvang hermeneutiek dikwels net vyandigheid van hom. Hierdie artikel het ten doel om die verwantskap tussen mediologie en hermeneutiek, wat naamlik in hulle aandag aan simboliese effektiwiteit sentreer, uit te wys. Drie areas van konvergerende belang word geïdentifiseer en bespreek: 1 / die wedersydse implikasie van die tegniese milieu en die wêreld van tegniek, 2 / die proses van outonomisering en her-toe-eiening van media of van tekste en 3 / waaksaamheid in politiek.