Copies: A Brief History

  • Margie Borschke (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk


What does it mean to deem an artifact a copy? Does it matter that copies and replication are central to the functioning of contemporary network culture? In this talk I will highlight some pivotal ideas about copies and copying in ancient and contemporary philosophy. In doing so, I distinguish debates about the problem of universals (also known as the problem of one over many) from a) questions of mimesis, and b) notions of authenticity in debates about copies and originals in art theory and aesthetics. I show that the Western understanding of what it means to be a copy itself has a history, one that was influenced by media forms and technological innovations as well as the development of romantic notions of creativity. To begin to glimpse this history, I take special notice of the role that media technologies play in the etymology of copy and how it has shaped ideas about copies in aesthetics and everyday life. Although difference has preoccupied post-structural thinking about copies, I suggest that, when we talk about copies today, we should also pay attention to debates in philosophy that teach us to pay close attention to differences between similarity and identity when considering sameness.
Period13 Oct 2017
Held atDepartment of Ancient History