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Philosophy Without Nature — 5 Sept 2014

Continental Philosophy of Science 

Thomas Kuhn – The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – 1960’s 

  • Vienna circle – installation of logical positivism 
  • Asked to teach a history of physics survey course — gestalt switch: “What were ducks before the revolution are rabbits afterwards”
  • Metzger (only woman), Emile Meyerson, Analisa Meyer 
  • Fellowship for study of anti-positivism 
  • Top-down epistemology

Philosophica Oevres – Serres’ Book Series

  • Metzger – librarian – History of Science Unit
    • Chronological empiricism 
    • Vienna Circle – French historicist – 
    • “Exuberance and juvenile agression” – International Philosophy of Science Conference 
    • “Systematic ignorance of the … philosophy of science”
    • Uncle Levy
    • Primitive mentality
      • … call[ed] expansive thinking that which rushes noisily and simultaneously in all directions where it can cut a path, which will constantly and irregularly go ahead without taking a moment to contemplate with a glance the terrain covered, and without attempting to build a doctrinal monument! (Metzger, 1987[1936]: 47; original emphasis)
  • Balibar’s critical potential 
    • Positive knowledge 
    • “Neither stories of approximations – like single point of view – nor stories of anything goes but rather stories of ambiguity… neither totalizing nor relativistically historicist” 
    • Similarities between Hansen and OOO? Comment of Balibar on Hansen’s keynote
    • Thinking of a soft mild doux process
    • normative and descriptive
  • Metzer
    • (method 1) Chronological empiricism
      • Donna Haraway – ‘science implies … hostile to relativism’
      • Situated Knowledge (1988)
      • Haraway has switched language / oevre — co-respondence (When Species Meet) 
      • Um-distingheit (?)
      • Co-respondence — not the school of ‘communion’
      • Balibar — reductionist effect of correspondence (fusion communion) on co-respondence (virtual and actual in Bergson)
      • Bergson: “…a the very root of our knowledge of things”
      • Response, “grows with the capacity to respond – that is responsibility” (Haraway) 
        • Human beings are not uniquely obligated to responsibility – response-able
        • “Richer and more responsible worlding can go on”
    • (method 2) Creative a priori (the a priori of expansive thought)
      • Free association – song, two movies, and a quote
  • The requirement of the univocal — a self-understanding of science and a conception of natural law
    • Nancy Cartright — How Objects Lie 
    • Laws of Nature: What does it mean (not that nature gives laws?)
    • How did physical-thought get restricted to non-living things
      • Newton: Principles of Nature Philosophy has one mention of a living ‘person’ – a horse. The horse is walking along along a path, that needs to pull a carriage – the opposition of forces of action and reaction (Starobansky on action and reaction)
      • The horse in the middle of the explication of the natural law – what is implied there?
      • The status of animals in 17th century England
      • Why was Leibnitz — 
  • Complexity – “all my life I have tried to complicate things, which may be why Europe is in crisis”
    • American textbook on physics were always 
  • Softness entails what? 
    • Interactions are informational and soft — inferences, codes, images, copossibilities, filters
    • Matter and discourse are positioned in relation to one another — we start to think in terms of flows and energies
    • Positioning the hard sciences as only one sort of thinking
    • Doux — in french — a special meaning (La Peaux Doux, Troufault) — something smooth… its the contrary of histeria 

New Materialism — Iris van der Tuin (Chair)

Pamela Mackenzie (Concordia) — ‘The Fourth Kingdom: Ascension of the Plastisphere’

  • Plastic Bag – Ramin Bahrani — Werner Herzog
  • “I wish you had created me so that I could die”
  • Objects toward their most human aspects 
  • On plastic… 
    • Industrial revolution — creative output of our society constituted by industrial design and advertising
    • Early plastic makers were positioned as ‘early alchemists’
    • Plastic as the ‘bottom of the barrel’ or ‘the barrel’
    • Du Pont cellophane add with babies
    • Plastic is uncontroversally negative (but only for the past 30 years)
  • Portia Munson, “Garden”, 2000
  • Microorganism living on plastic — a plastosphere (adaptable ecology based on plastic)
  • Amanda Boidsist — forming a new moment of the sublime
  • Maurizo Montalti, “The Future of Plastics” — 
  • Plastic in Beehives — a deliberate integration of plastics into the ‘natural record’ 
  • Plastic bag suicide — plastic was killing people (‘guns don’t kill people, people don’t kill people’)
  • When something is dead, it can finally be used
  • Raymond Williams — ‘nature’
  • Geological entry of plastic into the record

Katharina D. Martin (Munster)— ‘The Digital Milieus and Their Material Entanglement’ –

  • Immaterial digital cloud <—> data warehouses 
  • The digital has never been immaterial (what the fuck has?) 
  • Detecting a continuum between the physical and the signals, codes
  • Milieu as a methodological construction
    • Newton – fluid / 
    • Middle / between / heart
    • Place / lieu
    • Active substance 
    • Simondon / Deleuze – technical objects – reality
  • Micropolitics of algorithms – independent interaction between computers
  • German ID photo template – the image specifications of passport photo – set by the “pan optical cell” 
  • Deleuze – panopticon – Foucault – space/time
    • “must not be understood of a dream building, it is a diagram of a mechanism of power…”
  • Verilio – the vision machine 
  • CV Dazzle / Dazzle — the mathematic undetectability of the face
  • Norman Wilkenson – stripped patterns deceive the enemy’s gaze – stripped patterns deceived computational gaze
    • Camouflage not as ‘hiding’ but reconstituting seeing, or frustrating perception (The purpose of art is to frustrate perception — Christophe Menke)
    • Camouflage as a from of ‘encryption’ in the world — 
  • Frustrating ways of seeing 
  • Kittler — the pixel is more text than image 
  • “transcoding or trasnduciton in which one milieu serves as the basis for another”
  • Tarde — oppositions and inventions — escape from micropolitics
  • The membrane between the analog and the digital is in the optical dimension
  • Algorithm as “complete”
  • The Black Cloud — science fiction novel

Paul Rekret — ‘Material Entanglements an the Question of Seperation” 

  • Post-fordist capitalism 
  • Social constructivism
  • How can a mind access something
  • The conditions and limits of knowledge — appeal to materiality and agency of materials as a political act (Jane Bennett) 
  • Serres — narcissism 
  • Strategic anthropomorphism — to feel what one cannot think — ‘web of interaction capacity’
  • The conditions of thought amount to anthropocentric narcism
  • Karen Barad — Bohr — the measurement of phenomena is an intra-action / agential-cut. Always between, never within. 
  • Epistemic limits of knowledge… Raymond Williams — Ideas of Nature 
  • Alfred Schmidt — nature rises with the rise of capitalism — medium of the wage creates nature as the object of conscious intervention
  • “Personal unity of head and hand”
  • Epistemic / Ontology is a separation that arises from the manual / mental labour division (Kantian division) 
  • Nancy Harstock — feminist problematic … reproduction as a manual-mental labour which divides epistemology/ontology — “control of the womb” (women as reproducers of the work force)
  • Federecci history of accumulation
  • Live-science industries: separation and abstraction
    • technical separation of biological processes — computer science / modelling — intervention in biological organisms as a ‘technology’
    • seperation and abstraction from sources — sustainable growth — institutional context of property rights and research (life science sector — neoliberalisation of life itself) … Moore court case – spleen cells – patented cells
  • Barad – the objectification of pregnant women – cyberfeminist (Sauerbut)
  • Expanding material agency can wind up supporting capitalism
  • Ethics committees – and ‘the bioethics’ industry
  • This is a communist position — against any system that separates ‘mental’ and ‘manual’ labour

Petra Klusmeyer (Utrecht / SAIC) — ‘Sound and Time’

  • Sound Studies in Bremen
  • Sonic Peripheries events
  • Deleuze Transcendental Materialism
  • Academy Records — Stephen Lacy
  • “Boisterous presencing”
  • Whitehead: “… we find ourselves in a buzzing world”
  • Anechoic chamber — Cage — “until I die there will be sounds… one need not fear about the future of music.” (Serres – Noise) 
  • “No one or no thing can live without noise” (Serres) 
  • Sound is neither inner nor outer 
  • In listening we enter the impinging resonance — sound enacts a periphery soundspace — middling within the event’s becoming 
  • “Always already between sound suspend in as vibrational relation effectuating”
  • Whitehead — Thus equally rocks, electrons, trees… are full of intentions (Marder, Massumi) 
  • Aesthetics — of practice… 
  • What can vibrations do?
  • Noise is always subject to the process that renders it non-existent (individuation)
The Other Side of Matter 
Felicity Colman – ‘Natural’s not in it: Materialist Informatics’
  • Serres and a philosophy of communication
  • “I call matter the aggregate of images … the evental action of one particular image – my body”
  • To perceive technically means to have established the channels of measurement first
  • To think about a measurement of change in things due to the catalysing forces of technology
  • Malabou – consciousness influx
  • Subject partakes of chemical political and instructed desires
  • Informatics — materialist account of information … 
  • Serres: “Exchange as the law of the theoretical universe, the intersection and overlapping of domains… Things in themselves are immersed… inter-information… renews theory.”  (the conference format)
  • 2nd law of thermodynamics — entropy is a physical law for a heat system
  • Biology feeds on a negentropy — inter-information (coding movements) and exchanges of information (exchange of energy) 
  • Ashley Woodward — where you have vitalist systems / biological models — material exchange 
  • Guatarri — rejecting a Lacanian structure of entropy — rhizomatic flows 
  • Materialist informatic: a limited economy of images on the effects of images on the human bodies 
  • The body as an informatics body — cognitive machines that feed us images the conscious cognate 
  • Co-constitutive nature of image communication — it’s unindividuated
  • “The technological filters that are at work…”
  • Materialisation — what is at stake? 
    • Immateriality is really about transcendent systems — historical materialist school (Barad)
Erin K. Stapleton – ‘The Activity of Dark Matter’
  • Battaile + materialism
  • Activity in and of matter — the volatility of dark matter — data + networked technologies
  • 1930’s consideration of planetary existence — astrophysical research / astronomy — The Rotation of the Earth (Arthur Edington) 
  • Swelling suns — separation of the cartesian 
  • Battaile’s materialism — resists systematisation — anti-monism 
  • Human thought, as it returns… “requires constant disruption”
  • Newtonian physics is a “deadening idealism”
  • Frost – New materialism … “are all predicated on the assumption that matter is inert stable…” 
  • The Matter Myth — popular science return of mysticism / philosophy is no longer of use because it hasn’t taken into account the activity within matter… Christian right American… 
  • Frost – energetic and dynamic theory of material itself
  • Terry Gilliam — The Zero Theorum
  • Bataille’s materialism — activity and volatility
  • Base-material — redeployed to think about dark matter and dark energy (affirming dynamic volatility)
Joanna Hodge – ‘Of the Event: Sexual Difference, Ontological Difference, Historical Difference’
  • Luce Iriguay — 1984 
  • Geschlecht — Derrida
  • The past — history is rendered as a reiteration of the same — Heideggarian rubric of historicity
  • The future — 
  • The human secured by “anthropomorphism called god”
  • Ontological difference must always already be a sexual difference properly understood
  • 1983 — geschlecht — polysemic status — Derrida — reading moves to the question of the impact
  • Sexuality difference deconstructed — questioning the bipolar
  • Ontological difference 
  • History becomes modal — the dawning of the age of the anthropocene — another word for an epoch
  • Molecularised reproductive models… originary technicity — a thousand tiny little sexes
  • Nancy: “birth of presence”
  • Historical difference — a mode of orientation to thinking innovation — setting up some kind of distance from philosophy classically conceived 
  • genealogy — cartography — linking of thinkers 
    • shakespeare begat marks begat hegel 
    • genitarity
    • Rudolf Gacher — The Loss of Literature 
    • inheriting versus generating
    • Theatre of Cruelty — Artaud
    • Universality in Serres
  • The transition from Derrida to Serres shows a preoccupation about how to inherit (Derrida is inheriting differently) 
  • Why matter matters — a material discoursivity 
  • Historical difference — the end of man and the end of history / the end of the book and the beginning of a writing
    • feminist read this as the opening of subject positions to women
    • but then the subject disappeared
  • History is the term — providential, religious — never surrender the term
  • Expanding the perceptual spectrum (radiometrics — seeing astronometric radiation)
    • Is this decentering the human subject — 
  • Claire Colebrook — the endif
  • We’re always achrononistic with ourselves… 
  • Geology in Deleuze and Guittari — great imagery of geology
  • This physical materiality — the electromagnetic spectrum as a technical image — not a territory (or it shouldn’t be a territory) 
  • This is dangerous… why? Snowden as the ‘new god’
  • Material informatics — Guatarri

Philosophy Without Nature — 4 Sept 2014

Mark Hansen 

Wolfgang Ernst

  • Media as measuring instruments
  • Archeology thus means the excavation of the affordances of media themselves, prior to their role as agents of cultural life 
  • Media affordances in themselves 
  • Ultrafast electromagnetic waves are discovered not invented — through the superior wisdom of media themselves (humans just tap into it)
  • Media 
  • Bachelard — phenomenotechnic — positivity of media technical 
    • intensifies that which shines through beyond appearance 
    • noomenon behind the phenomenon
    • a prehension addressed by the ex
  • Time criticality — Husserl time-consciousness
    • A scope that vastly exceeds the 
    • Microtemporal scales
    • Time critical versus time-based
    • Time critical “does not simply mean that media operations are time based… under the condition of digital signal processing, they must be processed by time-windows…”
    • Related to the physical temporal 
    • Chronopoetic 
    • How measuring media constitute time – time modes and the giving of time by technical medium 
    • Time as the measured value — is itself a medium
    • Digital materiality versus evental 
    • Mathematics must always be implemented — every operation takes time — techno-mathetmatics as phenomenotechnique — which can only generate finite processes
    • Digitization — sampling in the technical sense
    • The world does not conform to abstract standardized pulses —
    • Time critical media operate in the space between time and frequency — indeterminacy 
    • Measuring media produce time-critical phenomenon
    • No real state of affairs before time-critical phenomenon
  •  Determination of time criticality – between macro-time of media history relates to the micro-world of quantum physics
    • Homology — quantum dissolution of physical time
    • “The question concerning the disappearance of deep time – is in fact time critical… the actual implementation… 
    • Quantum mechanics… is time critical as it coincides with the actual implementation into a material physical substrate
Hyper-objects and Hyber-obfuscation
  • Timothy Morton: “This isn’t about how a human interacts with an object, but how a photon interacts with a photosensitive molecule… quantum theory works because it’s object-oriented” (his understanding of quantum physics is at issue…)
  • Crucial characteristic of hyperobjects — hyper dimentional phase-space that is oblique to the everyday world of phenomenal experience 
  • Objects to do not have relations at all — vicarious causation
  • Causality is aesthetic 
  • Hyper objects “they force something on us…” they help us by showing us what is ‘core’ to objects
  • David Baum — Einsteinian realism
  • Morton’s account makes a quantum entity ‘exist’ — that there are actual photons. “Quantum theory works because its object oriented”
  • Realist interpretation of quantum mechanics — 
  • “Morton would be right if quantum entities were indeed real”
  • Nathan Brown — Morton makes no effort to prove his interpretation of quantum mechanics  
  • E.g.: The particular aesthetic experiences/appreances of global warming (japan earthquake) — are correlated: This is circular. As the hyper object must be real, so the non-local situation prior to measurement must be ‘real’ 
  • E.g.: Quantum locality has to be a ‘real’ object 
  • “Something definitely exists before measurement” – “persistence of a crystal lattice … dialethic” (doubly true)
  • OOO dogma: There are objects these objects are real and they are infinitely withdraw from everything, even themselves
Measurement as Originary Phenomenon
  • Araky Plonitsky — Epistemology and Probability — “The irreducible role of measuring instruments makes mathematically defined quantum states strictly a mathematical tool of our expectations, and nothing else… and it deprives us of any possible knowledge about the ultimate nature of the physical processes that led to the outcome of the experiment concerning which we make these productions.”
  • Distinction – quantum phenomena and quantum states
  • Radicalisation of Bohr’s thinking — 1930’s — Bohr saw that his argument was a radical denial of the existence of the quantum domain in itself
  • Quantum phenomena are the result of the product of instruments (techno-mathematical) 
  • Quantum phenomena (component of the measurement that breaks coherence and entanglement) and quantum objects (literally unthinkable)
  • “The non-being of quantum particles repudiates the noomenon” – Garely 
  •  Kantianism without noomenon
  • “A form of technology… a technology of thought”
  • Mathematics must always must always be implemented as physical reality (this is VERY different than Badiou / Meixassoux which appri)
  • “The mathematics of quantum theory defines these probabilistic… This is all this mathematics does for us”
  • The Event of Measurement — a reaction of quantum objects on the measurement itself — absolves Bohr of any anthropocentrism
  • Just as media themselves have the best knowledge 
  • Mark Rechier / Galali — the phenomenon beyond yo
  • “Quantum Mechanics and Transcendental Philosophy”: It is not the case that the real remains veiled … these apparatuses are performing ontological work” 
  • Jan Fetochka — Husserl — appearances are first and foremost objective 
    • collapses the grasp between appearance and object 
    • primacy of measure
    • there is no access that is 
    • the world has no being – not status as an object 
    • there is no being of the world in itself that would be separate from its manifestations
  • Measurements are the only way in which the world is 
Renunciation of Causality
  • Quantum measuring experiments – inside the apparatus of experience
  • “Complementarity and Causality” – Bohr’s radical view
  • Morton versus Bohr — Morton’s withdrawal of the hyper-object, Bohr’s understanding of causality after Hume — there is no basis in reality for causality
  • “The experiment operation of measurement… posses ontological power”
  • “Ontological power”
The Ethics of Climate Simulation
  • Climate is what you expect, whether is what you get
  • Claus Pias — Klimasimulation — the simulation, the problem of climate is a media technical problem 
    • Less a question of what to do than what can be known
    • The computer simulation has re-structured 
    • Medial-specific nature of models 
  • Has Critique (Have models) Run Out Steam? — simulations operate through fictionality, and specify their limed value 
  • “Humans are strange… as if we knew which future climate conditions we will face”
  • Experimental deployment of computer simulation
    • less with laws than with rules
    • rules have a different relation to the future than laws
    • parametricisation – in which it is a question of operation dealings with the not known 
  • Climate simulations are able to simulate phenomena that are properly beyond analytics as such 
  • Truth and correctness — simulations are able to embrace plural realities 
  • The entire set of probabilities — the experimental simulation 
  • “We accept the data of climate researchers not as a mere representation… but as climate itself” — embracing the domain of probability … as the phenomenon of climate
  • “What we took to be a reliable world … is nothing more than a pattern” (Morton)
    • Radical rift between the phenomenon and the thing
    • Weather is a false immediacy 
    • Climate by contrast is a thing – a hyper object 
    • The same logic – the hyper object (climate) can’t be modelled – climate simulation is needed to supplement human perception 
  • Contrast: Pias — simulation are necessary because there is nothing in reality called ‘climate’ in itself. Thinking about climate ethically — restores the possibility of engaging with it 
  • Morton is wrong to characterise global warming as a wicked problem – his analysis of it as a hyper object is what makes it wicked
  • Measuring devices produce these objects — there certainly is no such thing as global warming 
Response — Dr. Vera Bühlmann
  • Emmanual Kant — Algebra is the art of subsuming givens under the rule (before the distinctions between aesthetics and science) 
  • Phenomena – if they are mediagenitic – technical instruments allow for 
  • Deleuzian “dark precursors” 
  • Speculative phenomenology — speculative integrals — between climate and weather
  • There is a real who’s “potentiality” is referenced 
  • Both senders and receivers — physics of mediated communication (including a phenomenological account of embodiments)
    • Ernst view – the embodiment of media – techno-mathematics
    • Hansen – manifest embodiment of things themselves – an initial statement of activeness
  • The notion of a channel
    • 7 strings 
      • The real as an active state – criticality and prehending. Real as operational.
      • Non-hermeneutical – rational fabric 
      • Ratios are to be dealt with analytic points – distinguishes operatively from functionality
      • Computations are rational in a calculating manner that does not respond to arithmetic necessities (e.g.: Lyotard’s states of knowledge). Recording with constraints of 
      • The computations don’t legitimate thought – computations place considerable weight on the body. Lived abstractions
      • Lived analogies – abstractions
      • Real magnitudes – genuinely dark 
    • Mass media are time based / measurement medium are time critical 
      • There are levels of abstraction that are separate 
      • Computation is powerful because analytical points need to be encrypted
      • Encryption of the electromagnetic spectrum 
      • Levels of the Ernst characteristic 
        • 1) Mechanical – the wave propagation 
        • 2)Dynamical and singling out – a wave in the EMF is identified as a particular temporality
        • 3) Encrypting – sequencing – algebraic and mechanical. (It is here that the notion of media’s embodiment can be seen to play a role)
      • Spectrum – as a technical image 
      • Symbolic channels inside a cable – 1000 channels – digital channels are each one such ‘cypher disk’ 
      • On level 3) — encryptive coding
        • Bastista Alberti – The code of practice for his cypher disk
        • Algebraic rules – derived from laws of mathematics – are what media actually depend 
        • Every act of coding spells out a 
        • Barad “a measured nothingness” – zero was the name of the cypher 
        • Cypher is genuinely neutral and vacuous – continuously same-originated 
        • Coding because it is algebraic operates out of time – it literally represents nothing
        • Functional technology comes in the form of apparatus
    • Simulations support speculation so well because they are rational but not reasonable 
    • In programming it is clear that one operates within a space of encryption 
      • rules – coded description – hoping to provide the greatest form of generality 
  • The ontological status of mathematics 
    • Expanding the notion of phenomenon
  • Measurement and reducing physics to reflexive operators
    • Heisenberg – Heidegger – On determination relation: “Are you kidding? Do you really think it is not theory what tells what is observable?”
  • The technical practices of measurement – where that meets phenomenology 
  • Whitehead: the virtual contains the real
Notes to self: 
  • Look up Hansen’s talk from Aarhus

Performance and the Body

Daniela de Paulis – University of Amsterdam 

  • Cogito
  • Radiowaves in live performance
  • Earth moon earth — radio astronomy — natural satellite (lunar encryption — land art transmission)
  • The Blue Marble 
  • James Hopwood Jeans — “The stream of knowledge is heading toward a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appear to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter…”
  • Carl Sagan — Golden Records — sounds of the earth
  • Stanislaw — LEM Solaris — the failure of communication amongst different species (Brain shaped planet)
  • Frank White — The Overview Effect (film) 
  • We perceive ourselves as conscious minds — 

Martin E. Rosenberg — GCAS

  • Gilles Deleuze — “the need for scientific functions, artistic constructions… to mutually inform each other”
  • Top down computation versus bottom-up emergence (Umberto Maturana, Hutchins, etc.) 
  • Ethics of Cognition
  • Jazz — time as a reversible function / Cage deconstructed this mechanism (irreversible time) / phase-space 
  • Dominant 7th and 9th chords… which have a multitude set of ‘resolution’
  • Individuation — crystallisation and music notation
  • Kenneth Clark / Ornet Coleman (harmolotics) 
  • How can embodied mind deal with the multitudes of bifercations
  • Noosphere – Cognitive Capitalism – Maruzia Lazaratto (capitalism collapsing the possibility of bifurcation – limiting creativity) 
  • Restrictive mediated systems of cognitive functions 
  • Paul Thomas: 
  • Sonny Rollins: “Don’t play the music man, let the music play you”
  • “I feel there’s a guiding intelligence there”
  • D&G: Becoming animal vs. forming a body without organs
  • David Borgo / Vijay Iver (embodied cognition)
  • Improvising to a score / proprioceptive — musicians must have information beneath the fingers 
  • Proprioceptive pathways — 
  • Propriosentience — contingent and flexible enough / seem to make autonomous micro-decisions 
  • Micro-time scales interfering with each other 
  • Questions
    • Cornelius Cardew’s politics of improvisation 
    • The relationship between these micro-decision / bifurcation 
    • Thinking in jazz… Monson…
    • Novelty as perhaps first a product of acculturation / group consciousness which then begins to expect a patternings 
    • This truly ’novel’ moment as the place of ‘learning’ 
    • Jesus I think I have to look into the neuroscience of learning 
Fröydi Laszlo —
Julie Kuhlken
  • Asking someone to perform — social role, occupation, performing oneself
  • Being ‘yourself’ 
On Michel Serres (Panel)
Georgios Tsagdis – ‘Revolutionary Parasitology: The (st)age of the Plague’

Chris Watkin – ‘Michael Serres’ “Great Story”: From Biosemiotics to Econarratology’

  • In the media there is no information — format and continuity 
  • What faculty makes us particularly human — the host property of the human — bipedalism / rationality 
  • The story of the universe: 4 different bifurcations
  • Branching bifurcationism
  • The great story is not simply about nature — but recounted by nature (in a non-metaphorical sense) 
  • Story and narrative is in the universe — the noise of the universe as its beginning
  • “Why deplore the loss of a local culture, when we gain one that expands over all cultures…”
  • “White noise box… despising the scarlet’s”
  • The assumption seems to be that the only way to have universalism 
  • “The old local culture, different for a German and for a Frenchman … often threw us into conflict with each other. If it is true that all living things share a common origin… we need only read a few fossils… Our old wars only ever pitted twin against twin.”
  • The old local cultures, and the new generic questions 
  • Questions
    • The new universal story
    • “Platonic sun”
    • Story not history (anti-Hegelianism) — its the same word in French (La Grand Recit — ‘narrative’) 
    • Intelligible — intelligible to whom? If we can understand something then it is understandable … There is a web of intelligibilities of human and non-human orders.
    • J.L. Nancy – the renvois de sense
David Webb
  • Canguilhem & Serres
  • What happens when a living being defines a limit?
  • Canguilhem on health …
  • Serres on the ways of being sensitive to the earth
  • The key to C is the possibility of tolerating the infraction to norms — biological luxury… falling sick and recovering
  • “A healthy body is a silent body as there is no awareness to go on”
  • The Living and its Milieu — Neutonian mechanics … propagation from one element to another 
  • Milieu becomes a universal instrument 
  • Lamark – biological milieu – “being react to the provocation of the milieu” 
  • VonUxkel – Umwelt – “an ensemble of excitations” 
  • Abundance — felt by the healthy individual — to feel more than normal 
  • Virtuosity — expressed in terms of ‘risk’
  • Leibnitz — the centre — Les Petit Sensations
  • Lucrecious — 
Alessandro Zir – ‘Interactive Kinds, Indifferent Kinds and the Surface of Meaning: Le Sans fond de la Psychopathologie
  • Ian Hacking 

Peter-Paul Verbeek

ideas readings

The Test Drive – Avital Ronell (2005)

On Being Tested

  • Blanchot: “the trial of experience”
  • “A structure of incessant research” as a “modality of being”
  • “Neitsczhe for his part introduces the experiment in the most personal among his books, The Gay Science
  • Neitzche’s ambivalence toward the test / experiment:
    • “With is future-seeing night goggles and his sensitive little radar ears he sensed that test sites would make the wasteland grow and foresaw the concentration camp as the most unrestricted experimental laboratory in modern history, a part of the will to scientific knowledge.” 
    • “At the same time, though time has stood still, life as knowledge, Nietzche hoped, would not be at best a bed to rest on or a slouch of leisure, but would embrace dangers, victories, heroic feelings. Neitzsche noted science’s capacity for making immense galaxies of joy flare up.”
  • “Testing, which could be seen as the thrownness of technology, traverses many sectors of existence and does not begin as an explicitly technological life form”
    • What does the first part of this sentence mean??  Throwness, in Heidegger “thrownness” or “facticity” is the “burdensome character of Dasein.” “It is and has to be.”
    • Perhaps “in its state of having been designed in time” (Zeitentworfenheit) (from Zootechnologies: Swarming as a Cultural Technique)
  •  the facticity of its being delivered over”: the factuality of its lack of quality, prosthetic technicity. This fact ality is also one of 

Why Science Amazes Us 

  • Blindness / Amazement — precondition of epistemological deficiency 
  • “At one point Nietzsche sees the experiment freeing us from theconstraints of referential truth. Science amazes him, though a reactive tendency to re­ duce itself to calculative efficacy also lands it squarely in his repertoire of illusions, dissembling interpretations, and masks. He redirects science to art, ligaturing an ancient complicity.”

PART 4 – On Nietzche’s The Gay Science

  • “The meaning of scientificity that concerns Nietzsche, and that can be seen to dominate the technological field in which we moderns exist, embraces the qualities of both destructive and artistic modes ofproduction, involving an ever elusive and yet at the same time tremendously potent force field”  (Pharmacon, Stiegler?) p. 156
ideas phd readings

Black on Black — Eugene Thacker (2013)



Black on Black

  • The Metaphysical, Physical, and Technical History of the Two Worlds, the Major as well as the Minor.
  • Fludd published his work between 1617 and 1621
  • Et sic in infinitum — ‘And so on to infinity…’
  • “the nothingness prior to all existence” / “un-creation prior to all creation”
  • “a box meant to indicate boundlessness”
  • “neither a fullness nor an emptiness”

Robert Fludd

  • The state prior to creation (pre-individual) as ‘the mist and darkness of this hitherto shapeless and obscured region’, in which the ‘impure, dark, and dense part of the abyss’s substance’ is dramatically transformed by divine light.’



  • If we keep the eyes open in a totally dark place, a certain sense of privation is experienced. The organ is abandoned to itself; it retires into itself. That stimulating and grateful contact is wanting by means of which it is connected with the external world…iii 

“Perhaps, and maybe this is being generous to Schopenhauer’s text, there is a retinal pessimism that secretly underlies colour theory, encapsulated in the notion of black as privation (Goethe), black as retinal inactivity (Schopenhauer), black as that which precedes the very existence of light itself (Fludd).”

 ‘On the Black Universe’ — François Laruelle 

  • ‘Black prior to light is the substance of the Universe, what escaped from the World before the World was born into the World.’
  •  ‘As opposed to the black objectified in the spectrum, Black is already manifested, before any process of manifestation.’
ideas readings

The Concept of Infrastructure – Harman

Graham Harman — The Concept of Infrastructure

Heidegger’s Tool Analysis 

  • Theories about things are always not the things 
  • Things are not exhausted 
  • This is not a distinction between theory and practice — it is a distinction between humans and objects. It is not pragmatism — our relations to things comes through our use of them. This has nothing to do with consciousness and unconsciousness. Theory and practice both distort the thing – as it withdraws. 
    • Derrida comes out of Heidegger — trying to push against onto-theology
  • It’s not just that human’s can’t get the thing 
  • Islamic philosophy — fire burning cotton 
  • Any two things are not going to be able to make exhaustive contact with one another (from the black into the black – Fludd)
  • The trick of German idealism — you can’t think the unthought because it turns it into a thought
  • Noumenon / Phenomena is actually internal to the phenomena

Objections — Against Objects

  • Undermining — by going downward to its pieces (atomism)  — cannot account for emergence. We can speak of things that are able to exist with their composite elements changing. (Emergence: When sum have some retroactive effect on its parts)
  • Overmining — More common in modern and post modern philosophy. Everything is language, socially constructed, power, event, effects… No substances. You cannot explain change this way: the real must be different from the actual. 
  • Latour — there is nothing hiding behind things — everything is relations (Whitehead, Dewey) 
    • Unformatted mass with no articulation … committed to the idea that things are determined by their relations
    • Industrial metaphor of truth — the ‘circulating reference’ between a line of actors which translate differences from one actor to the next.  Usable truth…
    • Occasionalism
    • Pandora’s Hope — Jolio links politics and neutrons — 
  • Tristan Garcia
    • The difference between the constituent and its effects is the thing
  • Harman
    • The thing is between constituent and its effects is the thing
    • The Third Table — Eddington
    • Artwork is not reducible to its physical constituents
    • The artwork is also not how it makes you feel 
    • Even when you create the object itself — 
    • The aesthetic works are better guides than the science — as they exist between undermining and over mining philosophies

Other Object Philosophies

  • Aristotle / Liebnitz 
    • Not good at dealing with nature / machines … complex elements 
    • Liebnitz — man is a substance, but a circle of men is not?
  • Kant
    • Tragedy of ‘not being able to access’
  • Latour / Whitehead tradition
    • Being able to talk about anything of any size 
    • Objects last instantaneously — the is no durability
  • Phenomenology 
    • Brentano (Freud’s Prof) — any mental act has a object, immanent objectivity ()
    • Kasimir Tardovski (Poland) — double up realities: copy in the mind and a real thing outside the mind
    • Husserl — didn’t like Tardovski’s mapping, as he wanted absolute knowledge. He kept Tardovski’s dualism but he pushed it all into experience (phenomena) 
  • Hume / Kant — they give the mind the notion of causation instead of God
  • Latour — secular ‘mediators’ allow — Frederick Jolio and the connection of neutrons and politics. There are different kinds of 
  • Not tearing things down — food criticism — Daniel Dennett makes fun of wine tasters — you need to get at things elusively in order to capture the spirit of things
  • Naive epistemology? No – relations. (Pan-psychic?)
    • Kant’s epistemological problem is a badly formulated ontological problem
    • Epistemology should be the rift between two relations, not a human problem
    • There should be one relation between entities – a general causal problem
    • Epistemology assumes that people and things is a radical rift
    • Just because I’m human and I have more access to the interactions between myself and objects, doesn’t mean I can’t access 
  • Latour’s politics
    • Latours a Hobsian
    • Never any court of appeal outside of the network 
    • Human society is mediated more by non-human entities than human ones (institutions, materials)
    • Carl Schmidt — there is no transcendence 
    • Publics emerge on an issue by issue  
events ideas

Reza Negarestani — Speculations on Anonymous Materials

Symposium: Speculations on Anonymous Materials – Reza Negarestani

  • Understanding of systems has changed 
  • The new understanding of a system… You do not need to understand the system by way of factoring in … a certain form of essence. All you need is two things, the behaviour and functional organisation. Technical understanding of a function is that functions are abstractly realisable entities.
  • Functions allows for an understanding of the system that is no longer chained to the idea of constitution. System is understood as a functional integration with stabilised causal components that are inferentially linked
  • System of functions, and properties that need to be amplified in order to be detected
    • “…the totality of the system is an illusion, all there is in an integration of functions”
    • This is the program of ethics – i.e.: “know thyself” – the experimental or interventionist tendency in philosophy. The self is a substance, that needs to be ‘worked on’
  • Defining explanation by the invention of causation 
    • invariance
    • ‘explaning’ the shadow requires dealing with it’s cause
  • Manipulation becomes constitution – intervention 
  • Simondon: Orders of Magnitude (reminds here of the different scales of materiality)
  • Foucault: The aesthetics of existence
  • The new understanding of a system… You do not need to understand the system by way of factoring in … a certain form of essence. All you need is two things, the behaviour and functional organisation. Technical understanding of a function is that functions are abstractly realisable entities. 
  • Functions allows for an understanding of the system that is no longer chained to the idea of constitution. This is functional organisation. System is understood… as a functional integration. A system has stabilised causal components that are inferentially linked by way of functions. This is navigation between causally stabilised components, mechanisms of the systems, in order to escape from the constitution it was supposed to belong to.
  • Understanding of behaviours is directly linked to what function is, in a technical sense. Behaviours are linked to tendencies — abstract properties that are responsible for the behaviour of the system… And you cannot identify them unless you amplify them. So there is a certain form of ‘intervention’ involved.
  • “Manipulation becomes the very understanding of constitution” – making sense of ontology means tampering with ontology 
  • There are different ways of generating epistemology and ontology at the same time as it’s dealing with experiential knowledge that the perceiver is implicated in. The technologies of the self … are very different (letter writing, dream analysis, etc.). There’s a difference between a practice and intelligibly… There is experience that the perceiver is implicated in
    • Seneca / Foucault — ethics as a design of conduct that manipulates self 
    • In art, you don’t have intelligibility — you have material inferences, but you do have a form of refinement… 
    • Art has multi-modality — but these things are of course implicated in the design, engineering worlds…
  • To know yourself – epistemic ethic — fallibility of materials 
    • System of functions, and properties that need to be amplified in order to be detected
    • “…the totality of the system is an illusion, all there is in an integration of functions”
    • This is the program of ethics – i.e.: “know thyself” – the experimental or interventionist tendency in philosophy. The self is a substance, that needs to be ‘worked on’

Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transinidividual – Combes (2012)


  • Three (3) Simondon works have been published 
    • L’individu et sa genèse physicobiologique
    • L’individuation psychique et collective
    • Du mode d’existence des objets techniques 
  • “Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transinidividual” originally published as Simondon Individu et Collectivite
  • Philosophy of Individuation is treated in this book
    • Largely overlooked for his work on technics — allowing us to “discover something other than cultural pedagogy”
    • The collective and the individual — prindividual to transindividual “by way of a renewal of the philosophy of relation” 

On Being and the Status of the One: From the Relativity of the Real to the Reality of Relation

  • Two kinds of being oft confused: “being is being as such” & “being is being insofar as it is individuated”
  • Critique of hylomorphism / atomism — they don’t approach reality prior to individuation
    • hylomorphism presumes that the individuated “form” and “matter” are always already
    • atomism obviously presumes the existence of atoms, acting to form assemblies
  • Being as being is not one
  • Individuation
    • Passage from preindividual to individual — unfolding, sweeping, ontogenesis
    • Being is more than one “can be taken as more than unity and more than identity”
    • Thermodynamics metaphor — meta-stability
    • Metastability refers to  the state and where the least purity impurity suffices to turn things or change the system drastically
    • “Dephasing” is a process “which is relative to other aspects resulting from other individuations”
    • not the appearance relative to an observer (phases of the moon) 
    • not the temporal movement of ‘progress’ (Hegel) 
    • but an “aspect that is the result of a doubling of being”
    • the example of cosmic (sun) and molecular (salts and soil) —> plant
    • the example of clay (colloidal) and a mold (parallelepiped)  —> brick
    • in each case form is wrought, the “irreversible direction in which individuation operates” is ‘information’   
    • “being always simultaneously gives birth to an individual mediating two orders of magnitude and to a milieu at the same level of being” p.4 
    • note this process is not exhaustive –  in each phase of becoming  individuals remain more than one
  • Transduction
    • mode of unity of being
    • specific method
    • mode of relation obtaining between thought and being
    • grounded in the structuration of a domain
    • “physical, biological, mental, or social operation through which an activity propagates from point to point within a domain, while grounding this propagation in the structuration of the domain, which is operated from place to place: each region of the constituted structure serves as a principle of constitution for the next region” 
    • crystals in aqueous solution 
    • individuation is always in operation
    • Immanuel Kant  epistemology does not function as operation as the knowing subject is also in the process of individuation
    • dyad: energetic condition/structuring seed
    • “thought itself is nothing more than one of the phases of becoming because the operation of individuation does not admit of an already constituted observer”
    • transduction is “a procedure of the mind as it discovers. This procedure consists in following being in its genesis, in carrying out the genesis of thought at the same time as the genesis of the object is carried out.”
    • for Immanuel Kant epistemology was about defining conditions and limits for knowledge, for Simondon  knowledge is accompaniment of individuated beings as they individuate
    • here is something of an account of a practice theory divide – “philosophy having forgotten to take into account the operation of the real constitution of individuals, thus focuses attention on the ideal constitution of the object of knowledge.”
    •  Also here is something of an account of the object subject to divide: “if knowledge rediscovers the lines that allow for interpreting the world according to stable laws, it is not because there exists in the subject a priori forms of sensibility, whose coherence [Latour: correspondence?] with brute facts coming from the world would be inexplicable;  it is because being as subject and being as object arise from the same primitive reality, and the thought that now appears to institute an inexplicable relation between object and subject in fact prolongs this initial individuation; the conditions of possibility of knowledge are in fact the causes of existence of the individuated being”
      • “We ca and him him him him him himnnot individual sense of the term no individuation we can only individuate individually ourselves individually within ourselves” 
      • “In transduction metaphysics and logics merge”
      •  “being in thinking… Are two sides of individuation in Simondon”
      •   “individuation between the real exterior and the subject is grasped by the subject due to the analogical individuation of knowledge in the subject” (how knowledge occurs)
      • the resolution of this procedure – that is the quality of the analogy is what “guarantees the legitimacy of the method” and “the adequacy of the description to reality.” 
      •  the
    • Transduction is largely analogical – i.e.: it presupposes that we can have “correspondence” between two self-individuating entities.
    • Simondon was critical of the cybernetic mode of analogy of his time – which just ‘maps’ topological structure from one domain to the other, whereas analogy only works if, “the transfer of a logical operation is the transfer of an operation that reproduces the operative schema of the being known.”
    •  “this is why see Mono specifies that the analytical method, which posits the autonomy of operations in relation to their terms,  is valid only in so far as it sticks to an ontological postulate stipulating that structures must be known by the operations that energise them and not the inverse”
    • “we may speak of co-individuation of thinking and beings thus known, whereby the method gains in immediate legitimacy” page 10
    • Oposing structuralism and bad analogy: “structures must be known by the operations that energise them and not the inverse”
    • Note that analogy here as a method stems from the analogy of a crystal in aqueous solution (individuation of the milieu and the individual in correspondence) — which gives us  a kind of recursion where a “physical analogy” explains the procedure of things: “this circle of the physical and noetic”
      • Latour – AIME – p. 86:
        “And now, finally, we can talk about correspond- ence again, but this “co-response” is no longer the one between the “human mind” and the “world.” No, we now have a tense, difficult, rhythmic corre- spondence, full of surprises and suspense, between the risk taken by existents in order to repeat themselves throughout the series of their transformations on the one hand and the risk taken by the constants in order to maintain themselves throughout another no less dizzying series of transformations on the other. Do the two series some- times respond to each other? Yes. Do they always do so? No. If it is true that it takes two to tango, it is equally true that it is meaningless to speak of co-responding unless there are two movements in the first place, each of which will respond to the other—often multiplying their missteps. What the canonical idea of objective knowledge never takes into account are the countless failures of this choreography.”

Gilbert Simondon — L’individu et sa genèse physico-biologique (Adkins Translation)

The following is subsections 2 and 3 of section 1 of chapter 1 of Gilbert Simondon’s L’individu et sa genèse physico-biologique. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1964. pp. 39-50.

Original translation by Taylor Adkins 10/19/07.

2. Validity of the hylemorphic model; the obscure zone of the hylemorphic model; generalization of the notion of the capture of form; modeling, molding, modulation

The technical operation of the capture of form can thus be used as a paradigm provided that one asks this operation to indicate the true relations which it institutes. However, these relations are not established between the raw material and the pure form, but between the prepared matter and materialized forms: the operation of the capture of form does not suppose only raw material and form, but also energy; the materialized form is a form that can act as a limit, as a topological border of a system. The prepared matter is that which can transport the potential energy which charges it in the technical manipulation. The pure form, playing a role in the technical operation, must become a system of points of application corresponding to the reactive forces, while the raw material becomes a homogeneous vehicle of potential energy. The capture of form is a common operation of the form and matter in a system: the condition of energy is essential, and it is not furnished by the form alone; it is the whole system that is the focus of potential energy, precisely because the capture of form is an in-depth operation throughout the entire mass, in consequence of an energy state of reciprocity of the matter in relation to itself. It is the distribution of the energy which is determining in the capture of form, and the mutual suitability of the matter and the form is related to the possibility of existence and the characters of this energy system. The matter is what transports this energy and the form what modulates the distribution of this same energy. The unity matter-form, at the time of the capture of form, is in the field of energy.

The hylemorphic model retains only the ends from these two half-chains that the technical operation elaborates; the schematics of the operation itself is veiled, been ignored. There is a hole in the hylemorphic representation, making the true mediation disappear, the operation itself which attaches one to the other both half-chains by instituting an energy system, a state that has evolved and must indeed exist so that an object appears with its haecceity. The hylemorphic model corresponds to the knowledge of a man who remains outside the workshop and considers only what enters there and what is done there; to know the true hylemorphic relation, it is not enough even to penetrate inside the workshop and to work with the craftsman: one would need to penetrate inside the mold itself to follow the operation of the capture of form to the various levels of the dimensions of physical reality.

Seizure in itself, the operation of the capture of form can effectuate itself in many ways, according to various methods apparently very different from each other. The true technicality of the operation of the capture of form largely exceeds the conventional limits which separate trades and the fields of work. Thus, it becomes possible, by the study of the energy field of the capture of form, to bring closer the molding of a brick to the operation of an electronic relay. In an electron tube of the triode type, the “matter” (vehicle of potential energy which actualizes itself) is the cloud of electrons leaving the cathode in the circuit cathode-anode-effector-generator. The “form” is what limits this actualization of potential energy in reserve in the generator, i.e. the electric field created by the potential difference between the grid of order and the cathode, which is opposed to the cathode-anode field, created by the generator itself; this counter-field is a limit to the actualization of the potential energy, as the walls of the mold are a limit to the actualization of the potential energy of the system clay-mold, transported by the clay in its displacement. The difference between the two cases lies in the fact that, for clay, the operation of the capture of form is finished in time: it tends, rather slowly (in a few seconds) towards a state of equilibrium, until the brick is taken from the mold; one uses the state of equilibrium while un-molding when it is reached. In the electron tube, one employs a support of energy (the cloud of electrons in a field) of a very weak inertia, so that the state of equilibrium (adequacy between the distribution of the electrons and the gradient of the electric field) is obtained in an extremely rapid time compared to the preceding (some billionths of a second in a tube of greater dimensions, some tenth of a billionth of a second in the smaller tubes). 

Under these conditions, the potential of the grid of order is used as a variable mold; the distribution of the support of energy according to this mold is so fast that it is carried out within the smallest minimum time for the majority of the applications: the variable mold is then used to vary in time the actualization of the potential energy of a source; one has stopped not when equilibrium is reached, one continues by modifying the mold, i.e. the grid voltage; actualization is almost instantaneous, there is no end to its release from the mold, because the circulation of the support of energy is equivalent to a permanent release from the mold; a modulator is a continuous temporal mold. The “matter” is there almost only as the support of potential energy; it however always preserves a defined inertia, which prevents the modulator from being infinitely fast. In the case of the clay mold, that which, on the contrary, is technically used as the state of balance that one can preserve while un-molding: one then accepts a rather large viscosity of clay so that the form is conserved during the release from the mold, although this viscosity slows down the capture of form. In a modulator of energy, because one does not seek to preserve the state of balance after the conditions of equilibrium have been met: it is easier to modulate energy carried by compressed air. The mold and the modulator are extreme cases, but the essential operation of the capture of form is achieved there in the same way; it consists of the establishment of energy, durable or not. To mold is to modulate in a final way; to modulate is to mold in a continuous and perpetually variable way.


A great number of technical operations use a capture of form that has intermediate characters between the modulation and the molding; thus, a spinneret, a rolling mill, are molds in a continuous mode, creating by successive stages (master keys) a final profile; the release from the mold is continuous there, as in a modulator. One could design a rolling mill which would really modulate the matter, and would manufacture, for example, a crenulated or dented bar; rolling mills that produce corrugated sheet iron modulate the matter, while a rolling mill smoothes only a model. Molding and modulation are the two borderline cases whose modeling is the average case.


We would like to show that the technological paradigm is not deprived of value, and that it is possible up to a certain point to think the genesis of individuated beings, but under the express condition that one retains as an essential model the relation of the matter in the form through the energy system of the capture of form. Matter and form must be seized during the capture of form, at the moment when the unity of the becoming of an energy system constitutes this relation on the level of the homogeneity of forces between the matter and the form. What is essential and central, is the operation of energy, supposing energy potentiality and a limit of actualization. The initiative of the genesis of substance returns neither to the raw material as passive nor to the form as pure: it is the complete system that generates, and it generates because it is a system of actualization of potential energy, joining together in an active mediation two realities, of different orders of magnitude, in an intermediate order.


Individuation, in the classical sense of the term, cannot have its principle in the matter or the form; neither form nor matter is enough with the capture of form. The true principle of individuation is the genesis itself taking place, i.e. the system in becoming, as its energy self-actualizes. The true principle of individuation can neither be sought in what exists before the individuation occurs, nor in what remains after the individuation is accomplished; it is the system of energy that is individuating insofar as it realizes in the individual this internal resonance of the matter taking form and a mediation between orders of magnitude. The principle of individuation is the single way in which the internal resonance of this matter is established taking this form. The principle of individuation is an operation. With the result that a being is itself, different from all the others; it is neither its matter nor its form, but it is the operation by which its matter took form in a certain system of internal resonance. The principle of individuation of brick is not the clay, nor the mold: this heap of clay and this mold will leave other bricks than this one, each one having its own haecceity, but it is the operation by which the clay, at a given time, in an energy system which included the finest details of the mold as the smallest components of this wet dirt took form, under such pressure, thus left again, thus diffused, thus self-actualized: a moment ago when the energy was thoroughly transmitted in all directions from each molecule to all the others, of the clay to the walls and the walls to the clay: the principle of individuation is the operation that carries out an energy exchange between the matter and the form, until the unity leads to a state of equilibrium. One could say that the principle of individuation is the common allagmatic operation of the matter and form through the actualization of potential energy. This energy is energy of a system; it can produce effects in all the points of the system in an equal way, it is available and is communicated. This operation rests on the singularity or the singularities of the concrete here and now; it envelops them and amplifies them.

3. Limits of the hylemorphic model

However, one cannot extend in a purely analogical way the technological paradigm to the genesis of all beings. The technical operation is complete in a limited time; after actualization, it leaves a partially individuated, more or less stable being which draws its haecceity from this operation of individuation having constituted its genesis in a very short time; the brick, at the end of a few years or several thousand years, again becomes dust. The individuation is complete in one stroke; the individuated being is never individuated more perfectly than when it leaves the hands of the craftsman. There thus exists a certain externality of the operation of individuation compared to its result. Quite to the contrary, in the living being, the individuation is not produced by only one operation, limited by time; the living being is in itself partially its own principle of individuation; it continues its individuation, and the result of a first operation of individuation, instead of being only one result which gradually degrades, becomes the principle of a later individuation. The individuating operation and the individuated being are not in the same relation except in the product of the technical effort.

To become a living being, instead of being a becoming following individuation, is always to become between two individuations; individuating and individuated are in the living being in a prolonged allagmatic relation. In the technical object, this allagmatic relation exists only for a moment, when both half-chains are connected one to the other, i.e. when the matter takes form: in this moment, individuated and individuating are coincident; when this operation is finished, they separate; the brick does not carry its mold, and it is detached from the workman or the machine that pressed it. The living being, after being begun, continues individuating itself; as time individuates the system and partial results of individuation. A new mode of internal resonance is instituted in the living being whose technology does not provide the paradigm: a resonance through time, created by the recurrence of the results going up towards the principle and becoming the principle in its turn. As in the technical individuation, a permanent internal resonance constitutes the unity of the organism. But, moreover, with this simultaneous resonance a successive resonance is superimposed, a temporal allagmatic. The principle of individuation of the living is always an operation, like the capture of technical Form, but this operation is of two dimensions, that of simultaneity, and that of succession, through an ontogenesis supported by memory and instinct.

One can then wonder whether the true principle of individuation is not indicated better by the living than by the technical operation, and if the technical operation could be known as individuating without the implicit paradigm of the life exists in us, that knows the technical operation and practices it with our body diagram, our practices, and our memory. This question is of a wide philosophical range, because it results in wondering whether a true individuation can exist apart from life. For knowledge, it is not the technical, anthropomorphic and consequently zoomorphic operation that is necessary to study, but the natural processes of formation of the basic unities that nature presents apart from the domain defined as the living.

Thus, the hylemorphic model, departing from technology, is insufficient under its usual species, because it is even unaware of the center of the technical operation of the capture of form, and led in this direction to be unaware of the role played by the conditions of energy in the capture of form. Moreover, even restored and completed in the form of the triad matter-form-energy, the hylemorphic model is likely to wrongly objectify a contribution of the living in the technical operation; it is this fabricated intention which constitutes the system thanks to which the energy exchange is established between matter and energy in the capture of form; this system does not form part of the individuated object; however, the individuated object is thought by mankind as having an individuality as a manufactured object, by reference to the manufacture. The haecceity of this brick as brick is not an absolute haecceity, it is not the haecceity of this preexistent object due to the fact that it is a brick. It is the haecceity of the object as a brick: it comprises a reference for use and, through it, to the fabricated intention, therefore with the human gesture which constituted the two half-chains joined together in a system for the operation of the capture of form.


In this semse, the hylemorphic model is perhaps only apparently technological: it is the reflection of the vital processes in an abstractly known operation and draws its consistency of what it is made by a living being for living beings. This would explain the very great paradigmatic capacity of the hylemorphic model: coming from the living, it goes back there and applies to it, but with a deficiency owing to the fact that the awakening which has clarified it seizes it through the wrongly simplified particular case of the technical capture of form; it seizes types more than individuals, specimens of a model more than of realities. The dualism matter-form, seizing only the extreme terms of that which is larger and smaller than the individual, obscures the reality that is of the same order of magnitude that produced the individual, and without which the extreme terms would remain separate: an allagmatic operation spreading itself starting from a singularity.

However, it is not enough to criticize the hylemorphic model and to restore a more exact relation in the course of the technical capture of form to discover the true principle of individuation. It is also not enough to suppose in the knowledge that one takes from the technical operation a paradigm initially biological: even if the relation matter-form in the technical capture of form is easily known (adequately or inadequately) thanks to the fact that we are living beings, it is not more important than the reference to the technical field that makes it necessary for us to clarify, explicate, and objectify this implicit concept that the subject carries with it. If testing the vital is the condition of the represented technique, the represented technique becomes in its turn the condition of the knowledge of the vital. One is thus returned from one order to another, so that the hylemorphic model seems to owe its universality mainly to the fact that it institutes reciprocity between the vital domain and the technical field. Besides, the model is not the only example of a similar correlation: the automatism to penetrate the functions of the living by means of representations resulting from technology, from Descartes to current cybernetics. However, an important difficulty emerges in the hylemorphic use of the model: it does not indicate what is the principle of individuation of the living, precisely because it grants to the two terms an existence prior to the relation which links them, or at least because it cannot make it possible to think this relation clearly; it can represent only the mixture, or attachment part by part; the way in which the form informs the matter is not enough for the hylemorphic model. To use the hylemorphic model is to suppose that the principle of individuation is in the form or in the matter, but not in the relation of both. The dualism of substances–soul and body–is in the seed of the hylemorphic model, and one can wonder whether this dualism will leave the technique in good condition.

In order to look further into this examination, it is necessary to consider all the conditions that surround a notional capture of consciousness. If there were only the living individual being and the technical operation, the hylemorphic model perhaps could not be constituted. In fact, it seems well that the middle term between the living field and the technical field was, at the hylemorphic origin of the model, social life. What the hylemorphic model reflects initially is a socialized representation of work and a representation also socialized of the individual living being; the coincidence between these two representations is the foundation common to the extension of the diagram from one field to the other, and the guarantor of its validity in a given culture. The technical operation which imposes a form on a passive and unspecified matter is not only an operation considered abstractly by the spectator who sees between the workshop and what is produced without knowing the development properly stated. It is primarily the operation commanded by the free man and executed by the slave; the free man chooses matter, unspecified because it is generically enough to the designer under the name of substance, without seeing it, without handling it, without preparing it: the object will be made of wood, or iron, or out of the earth. Truthfully, the passivity of matter is its availability abstracted behind the given order that others will carry out. Passivity is that of the human mediation which will retrieve the matter. The form corresponds to that which the man who commands has thought by himself and which he must express in a positive way to whom he gives his orders: the form is thus of the order of the expressible; it is eminently active because it is what one imposes on those who will handle the matter; it is the same contents of the order, that through which it governs. The active character of the form and the passive character of the matter answer the conditions of the transmission of the order which supposes social hierarchy: it is in the contents of the order that the indication of matter is undetermined and at the same time form is determination, expressible and logical. It is through social conditioning that the soul is opposed to the body; it is not through the body that the individual is citizen, participating in collective judgments, common beliefs, surviving in the memory of his fellow citizens: the soul is distinguished from the body as the citizen from the human living being. The distinction between form and matter, the soul and the body, reflects a city that contains citizens in opposition to the slaves. One must notice however that the two designs, technological and civic, if the citizens agree to distinguish the two terms, do not assign to them the same role in the two couples: the soul is not pure activity, full determination, whereas the body would be passivity and indetermination. The citizen is individuated as a body, but he or she is also individuated as a soul.

The vicissitudes of the hylemorphic model owes to the fact that it is neither directly technological nor directly vital: it is a technological operation and a vital reality mediated by the social, i.e. by the conditions already given—in inter-individual communication—from an effective reception of information, in the species the order of fabrication. This communication between two social realities, this operation of reception which is the condition of the technical operation, masks what, within the technical operation, allows two extreme terms—form and matter—to enter into interactive communication: information, the singularity of the “here and now” of the operation, pure event in the dimension of the appearing individual.

ideas manifestations realisations

Apocryphal Technologies

A research project into methods of creating technologies and technological imaginaries which do not work, although widely believed and circulated as being functional:

  1. Lie Detection
  2. Randomness / Choatic Behavior (machinic luck)
  3. E-meter

(An oppositional project into the technologies which do exist and function, and everyone knows about, but people are in denial about — surveillance, brain science FMRI, etc. — “Abjured Technologies”)

ideas readings to read

What is a Dispositif

Or better that we must find now better ways in order to profane. If to profane means to return to common use of man that which has been separated to the sphere of the sacred or of consumption or spectator we could say that the capitalist religion in its extreme phase or stage is created something absolutely unprofitable, which can never be given back to use.

So I have to stop here in order to respect our limit of time. Let me just say, in a kind of semi-ironic, or better semi-paraodic, but finally serious statement, that the profanation of the unprofitable is the political task of the coming generation.

What is a Dispositif

What is an Apparatus