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Philosophy Today

Volume 63, Issue 3, Summer 2019
The Work of Simondon

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special issue: the work of simondon
1. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Andrea Bardin, Giovanni Carrozzini, Pablo Rodríguez The Work of Simondon: Introduction to the Special Issue
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2. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Gilbert Simondon, Andrew Iliadis Form, Information, and Potentials: February 27, 1960, Session of the Société française de philosophie
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This short piece is a partial translation of the introduction to Gilbert Simondon’s most succinct philosophical reflections on the notions of form, information, and potentials. The material was presented on February 27, 1960, at the Session of the Société française de philosophie. After the abstract and Simondon’s definitions of form, information, and transductive operation, there is a discussion between Simondon and other attendees who were present at his talk, including Paul Ricoeur and Jean Hyppolite, both of whom had been part of Simondon’s viva panel in 1958. The piece represents an interesting moment in the history of philosophy where cybernetics and information theory were problematized by thinkers like Simondon, who thought that the concept of information needed to be expanded and refined to adequately account for processes of individuation, or "ontogenesis."
3. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Bernard Stiegler, David Maruzzella Fall and Elevation: Simondon’s Apolitics
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In this brief essay Stiegler synthesizes his critical approach to Simondon’s philosophy of individuation. He states his debt toward Simondon’s concept of a systemic indeterminacy in the processes of transindividual individuation, and focusses on his underdeveloped intuition concerning the role played by technics in anthropogenic processes. Situating himself in the phenomenological lineage of Husserl through Derrida, Stiegler explains his own “pharmacological” understanding of “technical individuation” as, at the same time, the intrinsic condition of individuation and the inevitable risk of disindividuation defining the political as such. On this basis he critically extends Simondon’s understanding of religion and psychanalysis. This allows him to move beyond the political optimism implicit in Simondon’s “theoretical indecision” concerning the binding power of technical individuation yet relying on his very study of the question of individuation, which “is political through and through.”
4. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Natalia Ortiz Maldonado, Gonzalo S. Aguirre The Birth of Techno-Logos: The Writing of Simondon as a Techno-Aesthetic Object
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We propose to approach Simondon’s writing as a techno-aesthetic object, as a singular prose of thought. To do so requires assuming Simondon’s technological proposal as the creation of a new mode of knowledge about the technicality of objects, abandoning the idea that the word “technology” can serve to designate a given state of things. This proposal, cultural and educational at the same time, requires a new way of approaching the world, starting with the way we approach reading. The techno-aesthetics of Simondon’s writing also requires a techno-aesthetic reading.
5. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Vincent Bontems, Christian De Ronde Simondon and Quantum Mechanics (or, On How the ‘Preindividual’ Hypothesis Leads to a Realistic but Non-Substantialist Interpretation of the Orthodox Quantum Formalism)
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In this paper, we propose a Simondonian interpretation of quantum mechanics taking as a standpoint his “preindividual hypothesis” in order to consider the problem of contextuality. We will examine whether the epistemological obstacle produced by the notion of entity can be bypassed by specifying, according to Simondon and the Kochen-Specker Theorem, the mode of existence of quantum potentialities.
6. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Giovanni Carrozzini Gilbert Simondon’s Philosophy in the Light of Some Notions of Georges Canguilhem
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This article will maintain that the onset of Simondon’s interest in the philosophy of Nature, examined in his thèse principale, “L’individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et d’information” (“Individuation in the Light of the Notions of Form and Information”) and for philosophy of technics, analysed in his thèse complémentaire, “Du mode d’existence des objets techniques” (“On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects”), lies in his personal acquaintance with Canguilhem and in particular the reading of his Knowledge of Life, published in 1952. I will demonstrate that the element connecting Simondon’s interest in individuality and his interest in the philosophy of technics can be found in the influence of the following Canguilhemian subjects: 1) the role of vitalist anti-reductionism; 2) the necessity to inaugurate a “biological philosophy of technics”; and 3) the understanding of the concept of milieu in relation to individuality.
7. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Andrea Bardin From Life to Matter: Simondon’s Political Epistemology
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Simondon’s philosophy of individuation attacks the opposition between liberty and necessity, a key institution of the supposed ontological “difference” between the human being and nature in most of modern political thought. Distinguishing between ontological and epistemological determinism, I will show the political significance of Simondon’s refusal to either reduce human beings to natural determinism or save their alleged metaphysical nature. Simondon inherits part of his critical programme and a good deal of the tools he uses to construct it from Georges Canguilhem. My reading starts from an enigma concerning quantum mechanics that Canguilhem jotted down on paper while involved in the Second World War antifascist struggle. I will suggest that Simondon’s philosophy exposes the two equally anthropomorphic understandings of nature shared by fascism and technocracy. This will allow me to explain the ideological function that voluntarism and human engineering can jointly perform by reinforcing and exploiting the apparent opposition between liberty and necessity, on the basis of their complementary teleological justification for political action.
8. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Lina Marcela Gil Congote, Germán Vargas Guillén The Psychology of Individuation as Epistemology
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This article explores the indissoluble connection between the order of being and knowing in the allagmatic epistemology proposed by Gilbert Simondon based on the following thesis: the knowledge of psychic individuation is the condition for the possibility of knowing different modes of individuation. This statement requires the passage through logic, according to the author’s conception of ontogenesis, for describing the analogy and the subject that knows analogically and individuates itself as he knows. Thus, the psychology of individuation is established as a scientific field of work opened up by Simondon and its epistemological implications in the way of conceiving the subject-object relation.
9. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Juan Manuel Heredia, Pablo Esteban Rodríguez Through and Beyond the Transindividual
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The article develops the different meanings of the Simondonian idea of the transindividual, reconstructs the different interpretations that have been made about it, and considers its potentiality to think contemporary phenomena. For this, first, it points out the uses of the term transindividual before Simondon’s conceptualization of it. Second, it analyzes the definitions of the concept that appear in his doctoral theses of 1958 and distinguishes his different senses (ontogenetic, metaphysical, ethical, technical, etc.). Third, it reconstructs the contemporary debate about the transindividual and defines three moments (1989-1998, 1999-2005, and 2005-2015). Finally, it concludes by reflecting on the philosophical and epistemological potentiality of the idea of the transindividual to think about complex processes marked by the association of technological, psychosocial, and ethical-political dimensions.
10. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Taila Picchi The Dream of General Intellect: Simondon between Workerism and Post-Fordism
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Within the workerist tradition the concept of general intellect theorised by Marx in the “Fragment on Machines” has framed a socio-political interpretation of Simondon capable of questioning the ongoing process of valorisation and subjectivation of living labour under capitalism. According to Virno (2003), Leonardi (2010) and Pasquinelli (2015), Simondon’s philosophy can provide the theoretical foundation for thinking new forms of political agency and cooperation. Their accounts rely on the concepts of transindividuality, individuation, and mecanology, in order to explore Post-Fordist concepts such as multitude, cognitive capitalism, and algorithmic governmentality. Through my reading of Simondon’s philosophy of technics, I will assess these interpretations and situate the issue of general intellect at the intersection of his notions of “technicity” and “information.” Hence, I aim to integrate workerist and post-workerist interpretations through the concepts of living information incorporated into machinery, and invention-power implied in the concept of technicity. This will eventually lead to the replacement of the Marxist opposition between living and dead labour by a conception of the machine as neither living nor dead.
11. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Xavier Guchet “Technological Object” in Gilbert Simondon’s Philosophy: One Word, Three Different Meanings
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For the last twenty years, the philosophy of technology has firmly taken an “empirical turn” and has been strongly pervaded with Science and Technology Studies (STS) lessons, focusing on the social consistency of technical beings. In this context, Simondon’s approach to technology may appear a bit dated. A major issue of On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects (MEOT) is indeed to theorize technology beyond any reference to social commitments: Simondon distinguishes “pure technicity,” amenable to rational analysis, from “psychosocial overdeterminations” that contaminate technical objects with exogenous concerns. Thus, Simondon may prove behind the times when he claims to analyze technology as a non-social realm. This article intends to demonstrate that Simondon can nevertheless fruitfully feed current debates related to technological developments. More precisely, the difference between several concepts of technological objects in MEOT proves to be of major interest for clarifying current issues related, in particular, to ethics.
12. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Jorge William Montoya From Analog Objects to Digital Devices: An Analysis of Technical Objects through a Simondonian Perspective
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This article intends to establish a comparison between technical analog objects—which were the objects of the epoch when the French philosopher Gilbert Simondon elaborated his philosophical reflection—and digital devices that emerged in the last few decades of the 1900s. First, I define the main features of Simondon’s technical objects in order to understand what the necessary conditions are for there to be technical progress, which is based on what he called the process of concretization. Then, I analyze the relationship between digital objects—as understood by Yuk Hui—and digital devices that take over from analog objects, without necessarily presenting continuity in an evolutionary process. Finally, I intend to expose the role that both analog objects and digital devices play as mediators with the world in a digital era, and to address the question of technical culture nowadays.
13. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Anaïs Nony Technology of Neo-Colonial Epistemes
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This article reevaluates the historical conditions of the concomitant rise of computational systems and DNA-coding in the 1950s (M’Charek, Gilroy) and addresses the implementation of behavioral psychology and cybernetic technologies of control after the Second World War. From this historical perspective, this article interrogates the intersectional relation that automatic systems of control share with models of segregation and structures of knowledge oppression. It engages with the work of French philosopher Gilbert Simondon and poses Simondon’s cybernetic theory as an opportunity to question systems of knowledge imposed on ontological domains. Finally, it reveals how cybernetics reproduces a model of cultural understanding based on exclusion/inclusion and addresses the difficulty of creating new critical paradigms (Said, Spivak) from within the informational technologies of neo-colonial episteme.
14. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Jean-Hugues Barthélémy From Genetic Encyclopaedism to Human Ecology
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Unlike the free interpretations of Simondon’s genetic encyclopaedism, the constraining exegesis of this doctrine resolves the paradoxes that are essential for it to be constructed in its depth and subtlety. Now, at the root of these simple paradoxes lies what is no longer one, but which constitutes a true contradiction, of a methodological type. That is why today we need an encompassing refounding of Simondon’s genetic ontology, which makes it possible to eliminate the contradiction by transforming this ontology into a translation of a new first problematic, called “archi-reflexive semantics.” Such is the program of the global but radically antidogmatic system of the individuation of (making-)sense, or “human ecology”, the ultimate telos of which is political-economic and articulates itself with a decentered humanism refounding the law outside ethics.
book reviews
15. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Paul J. D'Ambrosio Review of Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment
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16. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Alphonso Lingis Review of Deep Time, Dark Times: On Being Geologically Human, by David Wood
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17. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Christopher D. Merwin Review of Das Sein erzählt: Heideggers narratives Denken, by Alessandro Iorio
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18. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Eric Aldieri Review of The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability, by Jasbir K. Puar
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moira gatens research discussion
19. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Cynthia Willett Three Questions for Moira Gatens and Spinoza
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20. Philosophy Today: Volume > 63 > Issue: 3
Penelope Deutscher Counter-Intelligence and Blunders in the Philosophical Novel (George Eliot and Moira Gatens)
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