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.”

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