I am a Regular Faculty Member in the Department of Philosophy at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Canada, where I teach philosophy of technology (click here for a 12-week YouTube course), logic, and other philosophical subjects, including occasional ethics courses for Policy Studies and School of Business programs.

Before coming to KPU, I was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Trent University. I have a PhD in Philosophy from York University (2014), a PhD in Semiotics from the University of Quebec in Montreal (2008)—Oxford tasked me with writing their entry on that for their Bibliographies in Philosophy series—and I did my Post-Doc at the University of Helsinki (2014–2015).

With two PhDs, I am of mixed academic heritage, being a descendant of Quine, Rorty, (David) Lewis, Brandom, and McDowell on the “analytic” side, and Husserl, Heidegger, and Gadamer on the “continental” side (see my academic family tree). To varying degrees, I have studied—and written on—all these figures (and many more).

I am the author of Consciousness and the Philosophy of Signs (Springer 2018) and Myth, Meaning, and Antifragile Individualism (Imprint Academic 2020). You can find my published writings and get updated instantly about new pieces on the following websites:

I am currently working on a new book titled Endangered Experiences: Skipping Newfangled Technologies and Sticking to Real Life. It will look at the loss of meaning that ensues when we rely too much on technology and lose sight of our ordinary surroundings and activities. We are sleepwalking uncritically into a future that we will come to regret. You can register below to receive monthly excerpts of the manuscript as it progresses:

As research for that book, I am collecting anecdotes from readers. In your lifetime, have you seen a valuable experience become rarer or even disappear as a result of some invention? If so, share your story in the comments section at the very bottom of this page.

Winning the university-wide award for best dissertation, 2014 (first philosopher ever to receive this honour)

In addition to Philosophy of Technology, I work in Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology, Philosophy of Signs (or Semiotics, to use the term coined by John Locke), Ethics, Formal and Informal Logic, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Phenomenology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Religion, and Metaphilosophy. I also maintain a career-long interest in heterodoxy and thinkers who, by choice, temperament, or necessity, operate(d) outside or at the margins of academic philosophy.

My appreciation of the need for dissent and error comes mainly from the heterodox thinker Charles S. Peirce, on whom I have written quite a bit. My first book, Consciousness and the Philosophy of Signs, which just came out in soft-cover, applies some of the ideas of Peirce to debates in philosophy of mind. Most philosophers know Peirce as the founder of American pragmatism, but few know that he also coined the term “qualia,” which is meant to capture the intrinsic feel of an experience. Since pragmatic verification and qualia are often seen as conflicting commitments, I try to understand how Peirce could (or thought he could) have it both ways.


“Marc Champagne’s new book Consciousness and the Philosophy of Signs is a triumph. The book is eminently well informed, well reasoned, well written, and well worth reading.” (Jamin Pelkey, American Journal of Semiotics)
“This is a very suggestive book. It is moreover a clearly and engagingly written text, and (for the most part) a carefully and responsibly argued one.” (Vincent M. Colapietro, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)

At the biannual Toward a Science of Consciousness conference, my work was the object of a symposium titled “Against Mindless Pragmatism.” That slogan summarizes well my work.

Humans need a large-scale sense of purpose. As current political trends and events attest, when a society tries to chase away the religious, it comes back galloping (often in even less healthy forms). That need for meaning will not go away. So, as I explain in my second book, Myth, Meaning, and Antifragile Individualism, achieving a tenable secular alternative “requires (among other things) a viable theory of values, a viable theory of consciousness, a viable theory of meaning, and a viable theory of aesthetic experience and ritual” (2020, p. 181; emphasis added).

Myth, Meaning, and Antifragile Individualism

“Philosopher Marc Champagne’s analytic skills are impressively on display as he presents and variously dissects, agrees with, and critiques Jordan Peterson’s hugely ambitious project to integrate modern science with the essential themes of Western religious and humanist traditions.” (Stephen Hicks, Rockford University)
Myth, Meaning, and Antifragile Individualism acts as a helpful aid […] partly because Champagne makes a valiant effort to understand Peterson and partly because of its breadth and clarity.” (Sandra Woien, Arizona State University)

I believe it is possible to make a spiritually satisfying outlook without any superstition and dogma. However, the success of such a stance is measured by living a better life, not by gaining a wider adoption. Hence, my long-term inquiries are exploring how it is possible to be correct, alone, in a sea of incorrectness.

Although I conduct my philosophical inquiries solely in English, I am also fluent in French and Joual (my native tongue). I was born in a working-class family near Montreal. I now reside on the outskirts of Vancouver, with my Chinese partner and our five beautiful children, living a low-tech lifestyle of hearty home-cooked meals, logical puzzles and board games at the kitchen table, and nightly Québecois story telling.

Philosophical tools can be used to answer narrow technical questions. I often do this. But, at its best, philosophy is taking the big thoughts you will think near your death and thinking them now, while you can act and make a difference. Its survival value is that it gives survival value (C. S. Lewis). Philosophical thinking—if one has the courage to act on its recommendationsis thus the ultimate regret-prevention strategy, capable of nipping in the bud tyrannical trends as well as wasted lives. I bring that seize-the-day outlook to every piece I write and every class I teach, so I hope you will enjoy!


Langara 2023 talkthumbnail_imageIllusory signs as frustrated expectations


8 thoughts on “

  1. Social media came to prominence when I was still in high school; seen then as a novel invention for connecting and sharing within an established dynamic of individuals. Skeptical of the utility of these technologies, I resisted adoption for years. At the time, I assumed that one could go on living as people had always in the “before times,” and that one’s life would not be significantly hindered by this choice – this was an erroneous assumption.

    In public school at that time, with little at stake beyond faux social status, one could (with some persistence of character) resist the siren calls of social media platforms. What could a lack of participation in vapid social media dynamics, after all, actually do in hindering one’s life? My conclusion was, “very little.” The progressing reality of adulthood in our emerging online milieu has proven my earlier thoughts naïve. While absence of a social media presence in high school made one an “outsider,” the consequences for such recalcitrance amplify as one matures.

    As I got older, I began to realize that social media was becoming integrated and entrenched in almost every facet of modern life. Not only was the presence of such technology everywhere, one’s presence on it as an active and enthusiastic participant was increasingly expected. Everything from career prospects and political engagement to social and romantic pursuits were seemingly dictated, at least in part, by participation in these online attention-siphons. This had an extremely alienating effect for young people, not yet established in life, trying to pursue an authentic life in the vein of the “before times.”

    Job opportunities and career advancement became increasingly dependent on social media background searches and connection platforms like LinkedIn. It seemed that, to many employers or hiring agents, a lack of an online presence suggested that something was amiss or occulted with respect to a candidate – this was a barrier that young people like myself, who were not chronically online, encountered frequently. When I finally, after some years, became established in a career within a prominent department of Canada’s federal government, news, updates, and development opportunities were often not passed down to employees through official channels, but through a Facebook group of (seemingly all of the) employees. As one of only 3 employees who wasn’t on the platform and hence had no access to the information in a timely fashion, this would result in many missed opportunities.

    Meanwhile, as an ambitious and issues-informed young person hoping to get involved in the political system, I was told by (much older) veterans of politics that a social media presence, replete with enthusiastic participation and daily or even hourly engagement, was a prerequisite for personal advancement and for the cause itself. Politics was simply done this way now, like it or leave it. Eventually, I left it.

    In personal relationships, social media technologies inserted themselves even more prominently than in the aforementioned facets of life. I found it difficult to maintain connections to old friends who primarily stayed in-touch via social media groups and messaging apps. I often would lose social capital and choose not to pursue emerging friendships due to a psychological and practical disconnect between myself and others who had engrained these technologies so deeply into their lives. Most of all, life as a single young adult is, I believe it is fair to say, almost entirely dependent on a social media presence. Due to the ubiquity of these technologies among this demographic, there exists a presumption that an absence or refusal of adoption implies some sort of character defect. When single, I was told by multiple prospective partners that they had nearly refused our date because of my lack of a social media presence. Friends, family, and acquaintances had warned them: “what kind of a creep doesn’t have a Facebook or Instagram account? What is he hiding? Who even is he?” At first I would chuckle, but as I began to see the extent of these attitudes, and the extent to which social media had become a required tool of vetting for social and romantic relationships, I began to waiver in my commitment to abstinence. Forget about exchanging numbers, many young people required social media messaging apps (complete with the attached profile for social status evaluation and verification) before even entertaining the thought of a date! Somehow, explaining my objections to social media did not assuage the concerns of those from my generation.

    With personal and professional pressures mounting, eventually I conceded defeat and “got online.” Some of the aforementioned issues were resolved, but predictably I became irritable and melancholy in interacting with the social media cesspool. Algorithms stole my time and diverted my attention away from work and family. The outrage-generating business model captured me, despite my being aware of its presence, and hampered my critical thinking abilities; along with my longstanding propensity to maintain a respectful demeanor when engaging with opposing views. Use of these technologies pushed me to be progressively less perceptive and empathetic, until one day, consumed by hours of wasted time on Facebook, I decided that enough was enough – I abandoned the venture entirely.

    I look back now on the engagements that I had typed out on these platforms (because they never allow you to permanently delete your footprint) and I struggle to believe that I was the same person. Few short years after I had been captured by these technologies, my thoughts, preserved on Facebook’s servers for all time, look absurdly alien to me. Yet, I count myself lucky as someone who got out – someone who emerged from the other side of the veil. I seem to be, again, in the minority; what a relief.

    I often think about those “before times,” and what the lives of my generation would be like right now if those modes of living and interacting had persisted on. There is no reasoning I can manage which leads me to believe that we would have been worse off than we are right now. Individually and as a society, it feels that social media has robbed us of more genuine, fruitful, and reasoned modes of social living.

  2. I observed in recent years that many of my students were not sure how to better utilize the convenience of technology, yet without reducing the quality and depth of effective communication. I am exploring this “how” myself too.

    Some of my students came in class and took pictures of the PowerPoint slides on the screen but not taking notes of my explanation, writing and drawing on the board. Some others seem to believe that as long as they got the PowerPoint slides for a missed lecture, it is as if they had attended the lecture. In contrast, when I gave philosophy talks to a group of seniors, I was flattered that a number of them were taking notes with pen and notebook!

    In one online course, a student was supposed to do an oral presentation in a group, but he asked right before the beginning of his presentation if he could do it by ‘typing’ (This is probably an extreme case, though). In a 35-student class, even with some encouragement (“Just imagine you are physically in a classroom doing a presentation”), only about 5-7 are willing to turn their camera on.

    There seems a trend in believing (willingly or unwillingly) that communication is gradually identical to looking at and sending verbal texts and images, and all the rest—context, tone, gesture, facial expression, pace, silence, surprise, etc.—can be pretty much ignored. I think this belief is like equating the scores of a music with a performance of it.

  3. Technology, namely cell phones, has made my life worse due to its pervasiveness. The presence of cell phones is ubiquitous and seeps into almost every aspect of my life.

    Take going out to dinner. We walk into the restaurant and are asked to scan a QR code to see the menu. I don’t want to; it doesn’t seem right, so I ask for a non-digital menu and proceed to order. The couple next to us is not talking to each other; instead, with blank expressions, they are gazing separately into their own cell phones. Even worse is the woman sitting alone at the bar and loudly talking and cackling on her cell phone without any consideration of others.

    Take going to a public event. The other day I was at a luncheon listening to a gentleman discuss the challenges of his role as an elected public official. I abruptly look away, something just feels wrong, and across from me is a woman pointing her cell directly at me obviously taking pictures. Such behavior is tactless, but it also feels invasive, for I didn’t want my photo taken by some stranger.

    Take the omnipresence of cell phones in general. When I work, I silence it, but it is always there waiting, sometimes with bad news. I check at set times, and every so often I see a troubling news story or I am notified of an unwanted message with some untoward query or illegitimate complaint. I want to shut it off completely, but people, even people I like and love, know I have one and expect timely responses.

    In short, the pervasiveness of cell phones endangers privacy, authenticity, and tranquility.

  4. I have a very bad memory for autobiographical events, and no ability to visualise, so for me having a large number of pictures of trivial days and events is quite grounding – I have a better sense of what I was doing when and where from the year I got a smartphone onwards. However it’s not an unmixed blessing: the same applies to facebook albums, but because I was late to smartphones the photos of my university days and the few years after that were not my own photos, but ‘tags’ in other people’s photos. When I deleted my facebook account that meant that I lost this prosthetic memory. I could have downloaded it all, but it felt too laborious a process and I didn’t really realise what I was losing until a few months later. I find a similar problem in taking my own photos on my phone now. I feel as if I’m constantly having to decide whether to ‘remember’ something or enjoy it in the present moment. I used to sporadically keep a diary and write poetry to remember significant moments, or to distil and remember a daily but important feeling, like enjoying a sunset or feelings or feeling love while watching my partner gardening. Now it’s much easier to have a visual record of little things, but I am less appreciative, both in the moment and retrospectively, than when it took a lot more effort to encode a memory and they were fewer and further between.

    The other negative effect of ease of recording that I’m most irritated by is the loss of private social experiences, like carefree drunken dancing with friends. I don’t understand why it isn’t a huge taboo to record what should be immersive, social, connected, disinhibited moments with people that you love and trust. Just the possibility that anything can be recorded and shared, and that this is not only technologically possible, but socially encouraged and rewarded, means that the experience of forgetting yourself in a group doesn’t exist anymore.

  5. I am a senior child psychiatrist, previously working for NHS Scotland in a children’s hospital I often consulted at bedsides or in makeshift privacy in ward side rooms. My training and practice in interviewing families prepared me for an approach that included taking brief notes in the session on a pad on my knees while continuing a conversation. Sometimes I would refer to my notes with a family, making it clear that I am not omniscient and getting their input on points that might not be clear. Sometimes I might include family members in drawing a family tree or a timeline. The process could be part of a therapeutic conversation but it also provided me with all the information I needed to formulate the case and reflect upon therapy. Then came the electronic record and my notes became redundant, at best a guide to preparing a laboriously typed e-record on a desktop pc in my office. That record would remain accessible only through a pc and not be available at my next consultation and there was no admin support for me to continue a handwritten file. All I could do was insist that my notes were scanned into the record, I had to print them off if I wanted to use them again but the low quality scanners and printers gave me a barely legible output. No training was offered to support this shift, not even a typing course. This was a major contributor to my decision to retire from NHS practice.

  6. Picture this: I’m at a concert venue, I’ve been looking forward to this show for a few months! It’s a band I’ve admired for many years and I’m living in the moment, enjoying their music! I hear the first chords that I recognize instantly and get all excited because they are about to play my favorite song, when a bright and annoying light unexpectedly pops right in front of my face and completely takes me out of my reverie… It’s the person in front of me who absolutely needs to film this part of the concert and is now distracting me and blocking the view for everyone else in the back of him, while he now watches the show on a tiny 3″ x 4″ smartphone screen held over his head, which will only end up as a shaky, poorly filmed, low resolution video clip with shitty sound that he will upload to the internet to prove to his social media friends he was at the show…

    I’m in a dark movie theatre, I’m deeply immersed with the film I am watching, the plot thickens as the protagonist engages in a craftily written dialogue scene when suddenly, the girl sitting a few seats away from me somehow ignored the notice, and common sense, of turning off her phone during the movie, and starts a texting conversation with her friend, certainly something trivial that could wait after the movie as ended and once she’s outside of the theatre, but no… It had to be here and now, and not to mention, she still has her notification bell on, so the damn thing rings and buzzes at every reply she gets…

    I need to go for a walk after all of this, the fresh air and the calm skies will help me relax. I decide to sit on the park bench on the canal in front of the public market, and watch the beautiful sunset, the gorgeous rays of light pierce through the leaves of the trees, it’s that precious golden magic hour and I’m enjoying the silence and beautiful scenery… When I hear the screeching, low fidelity sounds of online video clips annoyingly played one after another on someone’s smartphone sitting a few benches down from me, while that person’s scrolling through their social media “feed” and fed 15 second clips of utter nonsense and garbage. I don’t need to, or want to, hear whatever it is you’re listening to, have they ever heard of headphones? I say to myself, at least they are not pumping out loud music over a bluetooth speaker… it’s not like that’s never happened to me before, right?

  7. While innovation has without a doubt carried out various challenges to our lives, it can likewise have pessimistic effects that might make individuals’ lives hopeless. The following are a couple of tales outlining how technologies caused difficulties for people:

    Cyberbullying: With the coming of virtual entertainment and online stages, cyberbullying has turned into a common issue. Individuals have encountered hopeless situations because of persevering web-based badgering, which includes sending and receiving harmful messages, spreading bogus hearsay, and confronting public embarrassment. The effect of cyberbullying can be destroying, prompting close to home misery, social disconnection, and even self destruction in outrageous cases.

    Dependence on innovation: Inordinate utilisation of technologies, for example, cell phones, computer games, or web-based entertainment, can prompt habits ensuing adverse results. Individuals might disregard their own connections, work, and obligations, causing strains in their lives. Dependence on innovation can bring about friendly disengagement, poor psychological well-being, and a decrease in general prosperity.

    Threat of security: With the progression of technical innovation and the inescapable utilisation of virtual entertainment, numerous people have encountered a deficiency of privacy. Individual data, once shared on the web, can be challenging to control and might be utilized for malevolent purposes. The steady checking and reconnaissance can prompt sensations of suspicion, nervousness, and a feeling of being continually watched.

    Work relocation: Mechanical headways have prompted mechanisation and the substitution of human work in different ventures. Individuals who have lost their positions because of mechanical headways might confront monetary difficulty, joblessness, and the need to gain new abilities to stay employable. The progress time frame can be troublesome, causing huge pressure and affecting people’s general prosperity.

    Cybercrime and data fraud: The ascent of technical innovation has likewise brought about different types of cybercrime, including hacking, phishing, and wholesale fraud. Individuals who succumb to such violations might encounter critical monetary misfortune, profound trouble, and a long and complex cycle to re-establish their personality and monetary security.

    Programming errors and information misuse: Cases of programming errors or framework disappointments can have unfortunate results. For example, a bug in financial programming that misinterprets exchanges could bring about monetary misfortunes for people. Likewise, information misuse because of programming mistakes or lacking reinforcement frameworks can prompt the extremely durable loss of significant records, archives, and recollections, causing trouble and confusion.

    Carrier reservation framework: Periodically, disappointments in aircraft reservation frameworks can prompt tumultuous circumstances for voyagers. Flights might get overbooked, bringing about denied loading up, or travellers might encounter deferrals or scratch-offs because of specialised misfires. These episodes can disturb itinerary items, cause pressure, and leave individuals abandoned or isolated from their effects.

    Dependence via virtual entertainment: Unnecessary utilisation of online entertainment stages has been connected to adverse results for psychological wellness. Individuals can become consumed by contrasting themselves with others, encountering Fear Of Missing Out a great opportunity (FOMO), and feeling isolated or insignificant. The consistent requirement for approval and the strain to keep an organised web-based presence can prompt sensations of misery, tension, and low confidence.

    These anecdotes and tales feature how explicit innovations, because of their intrinsic imperfections, abuse, or unseen side-effects, can add to wretchedness and adverse results for people. While technology has without a doubt brought various advantages to our lives, it can likewise have pessimistic effects that might make individuals’ lives harder than ever.

  8. A favourite pastime of mine in younger days was listening to the radio. This survived the advent of TV. Even today, I prefer radio to the small screen. Like many young people, I tuned into pop music stations. What a thrill it was when, in the course of listening, a favourite song was encountered. This feeling has pretty well vanished by now. One can listen to virtually any song at virtually any time, at virtually any place. There is no longer any uncertainty, and hence no delight when the thing occurs. Indeed, easy accessibility has had other deleterious effects. When I summon up a song on YouTube, often as not I don’t listen through to the end. Same song. Not same experience.

    Similarly, I was a great one in my graduate school days, and for some time after, for letter writing. (I studied and lived for much of my young adult life far from my home, and, the occasional visit apart, never returned to my earliest haunts.) Telephone calls were far too expensive to report commonplace things, and there was no E-mail. Instant communication was certainly an advance on many fronts. But not all. It fostered habits of carelessness. And, like the case of the music, it neutralized the delicious wait for responses in an exchange, and removed the excitement of spying a letter in the box. (‘You’ve got mail: 150 new messages.’ Gimme Shelter!)

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