This article argues for a radical perspectivity shift in cogitating the urban, which involves an ap-proach to infrastructures not solely in terms of functionality, but predicated on the pre-modern philosophical terms of capacities and capabilities. Characterizing infrastructures as technological means of maintaining a steady supply of existential basics poorly recognizes the peculiar space of potentiality they maintain and provide along with consolidation of steadiness. The advent of global logistics and media networks not only dramatically enlarged that infrastructurally maintained space of potentiality, but democratized it as well. This space of potentiality is transversal to the nature-culture dichotomy, and can be comprehended as an infrastructural component of urbanity.Thinking in philosophical terms of capacities and capabilities in relation to infrastructures entails the secularization of certain noetic figures related to technics, motion, and power that had a strictly metaphysical connotation while they were connected to cosmological or natural frames of reference. This article makes suggestions along the lines of how to conceptualize the triad of information, virtuality, actuality,which today ubiquitously accompanies, and is secularized by, so-called media reality and related techno science—itself rather urban than natural or cultural—without the triad losing, in the process, the differentiation capacity of its metaphysical past, while being alive to its profanization.
“Either we know what something is, or we do not. If we do, then there is no point in searching for it, if we do not, then we will not know whatto search for.” (Plato)
“[…] If knowledge is not to be identified with its object, knowledge is a matter of constructing, using and coordinating symbols.” (Ernst Nagel)
This article is published in Vera Bühlmann, Ludger Hovestadt (Eds.), Printed Physics, Metalithikum I, Springer Vienna 2012. You can download a draft version here: PRINTED PHYSICS_Buehlmann