Volume 26, Issue 2, 2022
Overcoming Simondonian Alienation
A Critique of the Dichotomy between the Psycho-physical and the Politico-economic
This paper engages in an interpretation and critique of Simondon’s approach to technical objects through his concept of alienation. I begin with his argument for why the fundamental source of alienation is “psycho-physical” and explain his critique of politico-economic analyses of alienation. I then explain his proposal for reducing alienation by rethinking work as “technical activity.” I then argue that while Simondon’s analyses of the internal functionality of technical objects provide important contributions to the philosophy of technology, he also overemphasizes the psycho-physical and in turn underestimates the role of politico-economic factors in the ontogenesis of technical objects and production of alienation. Both the psycho-physical and politico-economic, I claim, must be thought together as necessarily interconnected conditions of the ontogenesis of technical objects. On that basis, it becomes possible to engage in philosophical critique of and education about the inner functionality of contemporary technologies and their accompanying risks.