published on November 7, 2019
“Technological Object” in Gilbert Simondon’s Philosophy
One Word, Three Different Meanings
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.