Abstract - The Information Society 9 (1)

Zen and the art of ignoring information

Chris Arthur

An exploration is made of the tensions that exist between information and religion. Attention is drawn to the concern which is sometimes voiced that the saving transformation that religion purports to offer may be indefinitely postponed by a preoccupation with information. To counteract this possibility, religions act as information-limiting devices by focusing the individual's attention on a level of concern consonant with the fundamental changes which they seek to bring about. Paradoxically, both the nature of the questions asked at this level and the experiences that underlie the authority of the answers that religions give make it difficult to set limits on the amount of information that might be considered religiously relevant. The important role of silence in religious traditions calls for the reintroduction of silence into communication to counter "information pollution." Such demands fail to take account of the fact that it is precisely those areas of religion where silence occurs that are most productive of new information.

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