Volume 21, Issue 2/3, 2017
Special Issue on the Anthropocene
Beyond Adaptation and Anthropomorphism
Technology in Simondon
This paper attempts to bring the work of Gilbert Simondon into conversation with contemporary discourse on climate change and the Anthropocene. Though his work pre-dates the coining of the term, Simondon, with his non-anthropomorphic view of technology, is in many ways a philosopher of the Anthropocene. In this paper I contrast Simondon’s philosophy to the popular idea that technology is something we can use to adapt to the practical problems of the Anthropocene. I will begin by looking briefly at the narrative of adaptation in the Anthropocene. I will then discuss Simondon’s philosophy of individuation in order to understand why he rejects these narratives of adaptation. Next, I will look at his own ideas on the role that can be played by technology. Ultimately, I hope to describe why, for Simondon, a view of technology that centres on relation rather than on a particular view of the human subject is crucial to human life. The significance of a non-anthropomorphic approach to technology extends beyond the current ecological crisis to all manner of injustice, violence, and misunderstanding between human groups as well as the environment.