Europe's Times and Unknown Waters #8
e-revistă culturală de filosofie şi literatură aplicată
lansată în Aprilie 2009
ISSN 2066 - 3323

devil

Gilbert Simondon: magic, images and technology

by Dragoş Fabian

PhD Candidate
Centre for Cultural Studies
Goldsmiths, University of London
Email: cup01bd@gold.ac.uk


        

Gilbert Simondonr

        (...) vous n'attendez pas la mort, vous l'accompagner perpétuellement. C'est vous-même votre mort. La mort comme mouvement en train de se faire c'est l'âme. (...) C'est que vous appeler mourir c'est achevé a vivre, c'est que vous appeler naître c'est commencer a mourir. (Gilles Deleuze)

         

        Abstract: The following essay is an attempt to open the question of (neo)paganism through the concepts of magic and technology. It is by no means a text on the philosophy of religions, nor can it be positioned within the anthropology of culture. It is however an attempt to open up a ''clearing'' from which one can understand contemporary forms of paganism as a nostalgia of the lost unity (the homogeneity of human beings and nature). The single aim of this paper is to show how technology and its emergence are the fundamental split between the ''magical world'' and ''human history''. This type of argument follows from Derrida's work Of Gramatology (Derrida 1976), Deleuze's Difference and Repetition (Deleuze 1994) and Bernard Stiegler's Technics and Time (Stiegler 1998), but more importantly on Gilbert Simondon's On the mode of existence of technical objects (Simondon 1969). This last book, which is Simondon's minor thesis of his doctorat d'Etat, is a unique ''phenomenology'' of technical objects and at the same time a general anthropology and history of the universe (Pascal Chabot, p.128). The first section of the paper will be an introduction into the philosophy of Gilbert Simondon, both his general philosophy of individuation and his more popular phenomenology of technology (with Deleuze's contributions on the metallic and Husserl references to vague essences). The second section will deal with Simondon notion of ''magical unity'' by investigating his account of the genesis of the imaginary (heavily influenced by Bergson and Eliade). The third section will look into Simondon's utopia of a future harmony between humans, nature and technology and draw some conclusions for contemporary (neo)pagan movements.

        Key-words: Nostalgia of Magic, religion, technology, Ontogenesis, Meta-stability, The genesis of the imaginary, Technical individuation, Gilbert Simondon, Vilem Flusser.


        

        Part 1:

        

Ontogenesis

        The philosophy that will guide us throughout this paper is the 'unique' thought of Gilbert Simondon. After being largely ignored for decades, his work has attracted attention recently both in France and in the Anglo-Saxon world. The reason why it is useful to draw from this philosophy, is because of his commitment to the process of individuation as being that which always comes first with regard to the individuals it constitutes. That is to say, he emphasizes the process by which something comes about (as being able to maintain itself). This is what he calls an individual, namely any small 'patch' of being that reaches a certain degree of sustainability, a complexity that struggles to exist. In this sense, he is interested in the process of individuation and not so much the already finished individual. What is important is how do various processes of individuation evolve (physical, chemical, biological, psychic or collective, technical) and the task of his philosophy is to track this ontogenesis (Barthelemy 2008).

        His main critique is directed against hylomorphism, which is to say to the binary opposition between form and matter, which leads us to put the principle of individuation before the process of individuation (Simondon 1989b: 9). The process of individuation is not a simple and unproblematic imprinting of a form unto a material support. Before one can speak of form and matter, there is a process of individuation, the stabilization of a flux of matter-energy. Any process of individuation is a partial resolution that manifests itself in a system oversaturated with potentials existing in a certain degree of incompatibility with itself (the pre-individual). In this sense, he sees several phases of individuation, a physical (chemical), a living (biological), and a psychosocial (socio-technical). Each phase is a resolution of pre-individual fields of singularities and intensities (metastable fields). In a certain sense, each individuation is an invention in its own right; the coming forth (emergence) of new level of complexity and sustainability. The movement from one phase to another is a phase transition, the passing of a threshold towards a new individuation. In general, every change is a phase transition that can be understood as the individuation of a metastable pre-individual situation. One of Simondon's favorite examples is the crystallization of sodium chloride. At first, there is a chemical solution that slowly reaches a point of oversaturation. This is a moment of criticality, a tipping point. It is a situation in which any small ''incidental'' germ can force the crystallization, a new individuation and a re-structuring of the pre-individual solutions. What is important, is that any new re-structuring can never exhaust the pre-individual heterogeneity and amplifies the new structure towards further individuations.

        Meta-stability

        The whole of Simondon's philosophy can be characterized as an inflation of new concepts. This can be partially explained due to his reliance on a wide interdisciplinary framework, drawing from biology, thermodynamics, cybernetics and anthropology. The perhaps the main reason has to do with his frustrations with the inadequacies of western thought. The question of stability and equilibrium offers a perfect example. For Simondon, the tradition has largely differentiated between stability and instability, between order and chaos, being and becoming. Within science and technology, metastability is a state which is relatively stable, but any minor, infinitesimal change can trigger the system into a different state. It is his argument that in order to understand the process of individuation, one must think in terms of an unstable equilibrium, a metastable state. Metastability is the state that characterizes the subsequent phases of individuation. What is crucial at this point is that these phases of individuation can be thought as a hierarchy of complexity (just like in complex systems theory). Each stage of individuation comes about when a certain threshold of metastability is passed and resolved. Simondon describes this gradual build-up of complexity as a process that is neither static nor in pure flux, but is characterized by a differential rate of change. Each new level, establishes, supports and maintains itself because of the relative metastability of the previous level.

        The simondonian process of individuation needs to constantly maintain itself in this dynamic state of responsiveness to change and uncertainty (metastability). A much too higher degree of stability can lead to rigidity and inability to change (closed system), whereas a low degree of stability means that the phase (system) is not able to maintain itself and risks dis-individuation. It is the aim of this paper to think imagination and technology as that which both allows and forces the transition from the living to the psychosocial individuation, that is to say from the biological to the human (from zoe to bios). These two tendencies are asymptotic evolutionary paths as described by Vilem Flusser's philosophy (Flusser 2000). For Flusser, the whole of ''human history'' is a dialectic between image and text. Following Jacques Derrida and Bernard Stiegler's work on gramatology, we can move consider writing and text as one of the most essential forms of technical individuation. In drawing from Simondon, it is possible to superimpose the pair imagination/technology onto Flusser's own dyad of image/text.


        Part 2:

         The genesis of the imaginary

        It might be curios to have a discussion about the imaginary in the context of magic and technology. But it would be interesting to think about imagination and technology as being part of the phase transition from the living (biological) individuation to the psychosocial (socio-technical) individuation. Imagination and technology have two distinct but closely intertwined destines; they have been part of a mutual co-evolution. The foremost proponent of such a view has been Vilem Flusser, who in his Philosophy of photography manages to describe the dialectical relationship between image and text. The following section will continue this line of thought by substitution Flusser understanding of text by Simondon's notion of technological individuation. Technology (text/writing) and image are the two pillars of the psychosocial individuation and the whole pre-history of human kind can be understood as the co-evolution of these two elements (homo faber).

        Simondon's lecture series on imagination and invention is an attempt to give an account if the image and of its evolution. The image is not a given representation, but a process of gradual development. One has to think of a process of imagination that comes before the image. More to the point, before one can say what an image is, one has first to understand that the given (finished) result that we call an image, could have been very different. The process of imagination is a somewhat contingent procedure that is open to all sorts of detours, deferrals or errors. In a sense, the image is understood within its dynamic genesis and not by the stabilized state that we could call this or that image.

        First of all, Simondon criticizes Satre's understanding of imagination, as being idealistic. For Satre, imagination and perception are two opposite poles of conciseness (what exists as an image as opposed to what exists as fact). Contrary to this, Simondon wants to think perception and imagination together, without equating them (Simondon et al. 2008: p XVI). In other words, the capacity to perceive is not separated from the force to imagine. One has to be very careful here, for Simondon imagination is a force and perception is a capacity, but imagination comes first because he uses the Bergsonian definition of the image as a reality existing in the exterior world, independent of any consciousness (Simondon et al. 2008: XVII). The process of anticipation, the development of memory and symbols represent the coming into consciousness, but they do not exhaust the local reality (the milieu of the organism). In the end, Satre's greatest mistake is not to account for any autonomous existence of images (Simondon et al. 2008: XIX). For Simondon, imagination is more primitive than perception. Secondly, it is clear that Simondon has a systemic view of the imagination, in as much as images appear as sub-systems within a more complex being which is the living organism (living individuation). Moreover and similarly to technology, images are an intermediary reality between the organism and the world. Finally, images are a complex mode of existence and proliferation(Simondon et al. 2008: XXIV). (Gaston Bachelard: Imaginer c'est s'elancer vers une vie nouvelle)

        We can define mental images as structural and functional sub-assemblages of the organized activity called the psychosocial individuation. This process of psychosocial individuation can be understood analytically as a sequence of four different transitions: movement, perception, symbolization and invention. In a certain sense, all these phases are always present to a certain degree. For example, animals are mostly determined by the first two phases (movement and perception), while humans by the last two phases (symbolization and invention). In the course of evolution, some organisms become more specialized in one of these phases, but for some reason cannot fully develop the others. In other words, when one phase is overdeveloped, it can only do so at the expense of the other phases. The human organism could be said to be deficient in the first two, as his locomotive and perceptive capacities are not as developed as other organisms. But it can be said to excel in the last two, namely symbolization and invention. This is consistent with the understanding of human beings as handicapped animals. Following certain strands of cultural anthropology, we could say that the human is born prematurely and needs more care and attention as opposed to other mammals.

        Genesis of the imaginary:

  1. In the first phase, the image is a bundle of moving tendencies (light, heat, tropisms, etc) anticipation of the signals coming from the milieu. In this sense, locomotion precedes sensibility precisely because the most primitive stage of imagination is the spontaneous exploration of the milieu. Images first start with spontaneous movements. Movements inform perceptions, who come after them. It is through this process that the living takes hold of the milieu. At this point, Simondon is fully bergsonian, in as much as his notion of locomotive images are what Bergson called pure perception. For Bergson, pure perception is when there is an immediate intuition of the object (the zero degree of memory). At this point, mind is in fact matter (Matter and memory, p 297). Moreover, similarly to Simondon, Bergson understands this situation as being characterized by action (the brain is not an instrument of representation but an instrument of action)

  2. Secondly we have perception, which is a response to the signals coming from the milieu. Under the effect of experience, the image becomes a mode of processing signals from the milieu and a source of schematics in order to respond to these stimuli. Gradually all the various images organize themselves in sub-assemblages. More to the point, this stage is characterized by the capacity to filter and select. We are no longer at the zero degree of memory precisely because the relation to the milieu is more and more mediated (modulation).
  3. In time, spontaneous explorations and perceptions tend to amplify themselves, towards memory and symbolization. The images become systematized as a mental world (neurological pathways). Symbolization occurs when the process of imagination takes the shape of an analogue of the milieu, a simulation of what is around the organism (Simondon et al. 2008: XXXI)

  4. Invention comes as the possibility to reorganize the acquired system of symbols, allowing the organism to receive new information and respond with new anticipations. This is particularly apparent in the case of technical invention, from Paleolithic choppers to cave paintings (Simondon et al. 2008: XXV)

        To recapitulate, the first act of imagination is exploration, spontaneous movement. The second stage is of perception and the beginning of memory. Thirdly, images organize themselves as a system of symbols, to which we can relate as an analog of the world (a process of modeling, a simulation). Gradually, these images become more precise and lead to the identification of hot spots and the recruitment of objects (natural vantage points) within the milieu. Symbols are images that result from an intense encounter with the milieu. The organism that participates to the intense encounter leaves something of him in the milieu but keeps an image of the event. Crucially, these intense events allow to simulate and reactivate the situation at a later date. Symbolization allows us to construct (model / simulate) the real in an objective and calculated manner, and communicate it to others (psychosocial)(Simondon et al. 2008: XXXI).

        In a certain sense, imagination is a vital function of the organism as a fundamental stage in the passing from the living to the psychic and collective individuations (Simondon et al. 2008: XXXIII). Any image is a sub-organism in development. Symbolization and invention are a proof that imagination is a function of the real, of realization. In the previous stage, the stage of perception and intra-perceptive images, the essence of imagination was the identification of objects. Objects are remarkable points, extreme transitions, hot-spots of the millieu. They represent the insertion of the organism in the milieu and act as intermediary organs between the self-sufficient body and the milieu. Memory allows for the passing from the perception of objects to the affective-emotional world of symbols, the capacity to memorize and imprint the signals of the past. As they become more ''technical'', objects gradually come to be recruited as symbols. We have already talked about points of the territory as being good examples of primitive objects. But beyond the marking of trees, more advanced organisms modify their skin, hair or nails as object worthy of symbolic meaning. The skin is a natural surface for imprinting information; tattoos or body painting could be considered as the first types of symbols.

        Moreover, it is well known that in archaic societies everything that can be perceived in the milieu can find a place in the world of symbolic meaning (Chabot 2003: 134). One can recall Mircea Eliade's analysis of nomadic people. The Achilpas had a sacred pole, which was an object separating the cosmos from the chaos. A sacred object is a rupture in the homogeneity of space. When the community would setup camp, the first operation would be the positioning of a pole, the axus mundi. The pole ensured that wherever they were, they had their world around them. When they position the pole, the chaos of the new environment becomes a centered world, a teritory. This object had reached the state of a symbol due to collective action and perception. It symbolized the collective insertion in the milieu. Moreover, it was a technical object, their ''global positioning system''(GPS). The pole was always the centre of the milieu and allowed for the instant mapping of the surroundings. It was the reference point for the simulation of the milieu, a collective process of imagination. If the pole was lost or broken the group would disintegrate, as they couldn't live without it.

        Consequently, within the process of imagination, symbolization is the passing of the threshold towards the psychosocial individuation. The symbol stabilizes the social because it has a multiple owners and allowing the ordering and the mapping of the milieu. The evolution towards symbols is a process of abstraction and tension between various perceptive individuals. It is a process of collective formalization, in as much as the successive becomes simultaneous and the particular takes a universal meaning. The images of others become mine and I donate my own images to the rest of the group. But all of this is not possible without the material support, the gradual development of technology. Symbolization and the invention of new symbols are the ultimate outcome of the process of imagination. But this ''infrastructure'' is crucial, as it is the oil that keeps the human machine going. What we have described so far is the pre-history of the human subject, all the obscurity that Kant took as a given. In a sense, the genesis of the imagination is the space of magic. This gradual process of individuation, the co-evolution between imagination and technology, is also the de-phasing of a so-called ''magical unity'' into several new phases such religion, technology, art and philosophy. Nevertheless, the break-up of the ''magical'' unity which is the pre-individual potential for new individuation, for new phases of becoming.

        Technical individuation

        The technical object is a process of becoming, a sequence of technical functionalities, a phylogenetic line of artifacts. The technical object is it's own genesis and at the limit, one could say that the technical object is one more stage in the unfolding of being as such. The technical is a crucial phase transition that occurs between the living and the psychosocial individuation. This is somewhat similar to Marcel Mauss's statement that we have never seen a human group that would be without tools or some sort of ''exosomatic'' organs. The technical object is what makes possible the stabilization of a psychosocial individuation.

        It can easily be said that for Simondon, the individuation that is the technical is only important after the advent of industry, that for him, pre-modern techniques are just tools, prosthetics of human beings. But that would not be a very accurate point, namely because there is a list of scholars, among them Bernard Stiegler, Brian Massumi and Jean-Hugues Barthélémy (Barthélémy 2009; Massumi et al. 2009; Stiegler 1998) that have shown how the technical object is both the support and the symbol of transindividuality (i.e. psychosocial individuation). Or as Simondon himself has put it:

        The technical object taken according to its essence, that is, the technical object insofar as it was invented, thought and willed, assumed by a human subject, becomes the support and the symbol of this relation that we would call transindividual. [...] Through the intermediary of the technical object an interhuman relation that is the model of transindividuality is created (Simondon 1989a: 247-48).

        In other words, when trying to think the psychosocial individuation, we must consider it as being always already a technical individuation. Following Bernard Stiegler in saying that human and technology are entangled in a mutual becoming. Thinking of machines or of techniques in general as having nothing to do with social structures is clearly a point that one cannot sustain. Simondon's own position is that there is a false assumption that the technical object has no human reality, to which we would add that there is an equally false assumption that the l social has no technical reality. Nevertheless, in as much as we take the process of individuation seriously, there is no essential authenticity. Neither nature, the human individual, nor the social or technology have any right to a privileged position. In this sense, all you have are more and more phase transitions, that is to say, an irreversible process of excessive individuation, which brings novelty into the world.

        Magic, religion and technology

         The question of magic is Simondon's opportunity to insert his account of ontogenesis/anthropogenesis within a general history of the universe. As we have seen, symbolization and technology signal the advent new phases of individuation. From the mythical magical unity, Greek thought de-phases into religion, technology, art and then philosophy. This situation can be characterized by the separation between object and subject, form and content, the whole and it's parts (Technology, Art and Religion). For Simondon, the magical phase, is what precedes this situation; in the beginning there was magic (Chabot, p 128). Ideally, it would have to be something like a situation of plenitude, where the organism is tightly coupled with its milieu. Magic is a to a certain extent pre-technical and pre-religious, as a direct relation of the living to it milieu. In sense, we can relate to the previous section and say that this is precisely the long genesis of the imaginary. Although being a very long process of individuation, it still has a relative stability, but it is the most basic form of organization(Simondon 1989a: 156).

        As we have already described, magic corresponds to the early stages of imagination. The organism is connected to the milieu through striking vantage points, hot-spots and intense encounters. It is a situation in which movement and perception dominate and in which technical objects are transitory, not yet fully stabilized. (Chabot 2003: 129). Magic refers to a situation in which rituals integrate the organism into the greater whole, its environment (milieu). Objects are only possible thought the fragmentation of this relation of quasi-homogeneity between organism and milieu(Simondon 1989a: 164).

        Gradually but surely, this ''magical unity'' is broken, the passing of a threshold towards a new individuation (the psychosocial). This can be thought of as a division of labor between new tendencies like technology, religion, art and later on philosophy(Chabot 2003: 129). All of these are specific ways in which the psychosocial can connect and relate to outside milieu. Technology is on the side of gestures and manipulations that can analytically differentiae a continuum of experience. Religion constantly tries to integrate the local experience into some sort of global relationship. Art and philosophy are somewhere in between and attempt to reconstruct the relationship between what is singular in things and what connects them to a wider whole (Chabot 2003: 130).

        In order to get more perspective on this account, it would be useful to insert it within the structural classification of modes of intellection proposed by Philippe Descola (Descola 1994; Descola and Gísli 1996; Descola 2005). In this sense, one can speak of, totemism, naturalism, animism and analogism. What is most interesting from the point of view of our discussion is totemism, where you have a moral and material continuity of physicality and interiority (Muniesa 2010), the continuum of nature as such. Animism is the first sign of a split. It states that all things have a soul, so in a sense they share a common interiority and are not strictly speaking distinguishable from each other, but there is there is a differentiation of physicality). In animism, there is certainty about the universality of spirit, but there is uncertainty about the universality of body and matter (Descola 1994). It could be interesting to view naturalism as the deepening of this split. It has been argued that naturalism is one of the distinctive features of western thought, as a mode of thinking that relates singular and distinct interiorities to univocal and exterior nature(Muniesa 2010). It is a view according to which human beings can be clearly distinguished from other modes of existence (subject-object). Totemism and animism are still somehow within a ''magical unity'', whereas naturalism can be seen as a split, the breaking of that relationship, and the advent of human ''history''. Interestingly enough, we could position analogism as an attempt to reconstruct that ''lost'' unity.

        In naturalism, the universality of physicality is linked to the contingency of interiorities. In animism, the generalization of interiority is a counterpoint to the differentiation of physicalities. Totemism is characterized by a moral and material continuity of physicality and interiority. Analogism is the realm of multiple differences at both levels, and of multiple networks of correspondence that make the world readable as an ongoing chain of relations. (Muniesa 2010)

         It is interesting that, at the end of On the mode of existence of technical objects, Simondon himself understand real technological progress as a form of analogism, of integrating all of the separated strands of human thought together. In his view, it is a mistake to simply consider technology as that which separates us from ''nature''. His greatest hope is for the emergence of a new technical mentality, which can integrate human beings with the ''outside'' and rebalance the broken unity. After millennia in which technology has developed in almost indifference to the rest of the world, there is hope for a new harmony with nature (Chabot 2003: 132). This position has been often criticized as mystical by Simondon's comentators. It has often been seen as a curios development within his own thought which starts off with a more analytical and rationally informed account of technical systems and ends up in a strange ecumenism (technology rekindles the unity of all the different phases of individuation). The issue of Simondon's latent nostalgia can and will be the subject of much debate, but what is certain is his almost normative suggestion of a rebalancing of the relationship between human, technology and nature.

        Part 3: Conclusion

        Technology and the nostalgia of magic

        As we have seen the subject of the lost ''magical unity'' and the nostalgia of its future rediscovery is a strange anomaly in Simondon thought. On the mode of existence of technical objects (Simondon 1969) presents technology is the miracle of the ancient Greeks, the technical effort to introduce new creations, and to force the restructuring of the life of the community, to invent the new. For Simondon, a philosophy of technology continually takes the form of a history of technical case studies and their correlative socio-economic modes of organization. Technical invention has a very special historicity, which runs asymptotically with the evolution of human culture and society. The crucial task is to identify those points of inflection and friction, when one spills over into the other (Simondon 2005). In a first stage, before the mass use of instruments and tools, technical mediations were fragmented and not linked, but most importantly, they expressed a very specific social structure, slave labour. At this stage, ritual and collective mythology impose a diachronic and synchronic constraint on the process of technical and social invention. It is only with the mass us of instruments and tools that a more individual mode of existence can develop. The tool and the human formed a 'unity'; the technical individual is in this case the figure of the artisan. With the tool-bearing man came a first step towards a specification of the relationship between operator and machine. Gradually, this new type of social function, namely the operator (who does not have to be the builder of the tool), leads to a more complex division of labour. The next stage, that of apparatuses or the first machine-tools bring with them a further complication, the operator becomes more and more a maintainer of machines. With the advent of large-scale industrial ensembles, the organizers of information (engineers/entrepreneurs) separate from the organizers of machines (workers/operators). At the limit, the 'perfect' industrial machine is the one that attains informational and energetic independence from the operator. Anyway, throughout the 'modern' period, an asymmetrical relationship emerges, which leads to the cultural understanding of machines as alienating structures that exploit man's authenticity. Finally, we have the information-machine and the network who transmit a different type of relationship, that of the user and his terminal, a technical modality which no longer relies on industrial concentration but puts together the inventor, the builder and the user into a globally integrated technical network.

        Interestingly enough, Simondon looks at the late 20th century information networks as a possible reconciliation, a return to some sort of harmony and unity (Chabot 2003: 131). Magic was a situation in which everything communicated with everything, and as technology organizes itself in networks it also opens up the possibility of a new ecumenism (Chabot 2003: 136). In this sense, we could call paganism any form of nostalgia and hope for a reconciliation of the ''magical unity''. This holds true both when one wants to achieve this goal through the further expansion of technology (cyborgs, AI, etc.) or when one tries to achieve it through forsaking technology (Gaia, ''environmentalism'', etc.). Following our account, we could say that paganism is a search for some sort of greater whole. It is attempting something that art and philosophy have not managed to do, that is to repair the split between technology and religion, and forge a new magical unity of the ''cosmos''.

        In a sense, paganism is the quest for something that might never have happened or something that might never come to happen, in as much as we stick to Bernard Stiegler's definition of the human as the technical being as such. The basic question of anthropogenesis is whether one can actually speak of human beings in a state of ''magical unity''. It could be said, following Jean-Luc Nancy, that technology is an expression of that side of human existence that is without order and without origin, that is to say, anarchy as such. But perhaps to complicate things even more, it might be useful to understand contemporary neo-paganism as essentially a western problem. If we take Simondon assertion seriously, namely that technology is the miracle of the Greeks, then it can be said that it is only for western thought that technology appears as the breaking point of the magical unity. In fact, some years after the publication of his work on technical objects, Simondon gives a lecture at the Sorbonne, called Psycho-sociologie de la technicite, influenced by Jung, Eliade, and Master Eckhart (Chabot 2003: 134). In that lecture he describes some non-western societies, as places were the technical and the sacred are structurally similar (yoga), and reaches the conclusion that it was just the West that accentuated the separation (the de-phasing of the magical unity). Wheatear or not this is just a history of western thought; it is interesting that a lot of neo-pagan resources come from non-western traditions. Nevertheless, in as much as Simondon's anthropogenesis is fully integrated in a more general ontogenesis (his philosophy of individuation) we can state that the idea of an unmediated relationship with the environment is something that is beyond the reach of human beings. In other words, in as much as the psychosocial individuation is a result of irreversible change, there is no going back, other than through total dis-individuation (death).

        As a final judgment, paganism is a reflection of the inability to fully go through the phase transition, to fully accept that an irreversible change has happened. It is the failure to recognize that humans are disabled animals and that they lack the instincts to survive in a ''natural'' environment. And it is precisely for this reason that we have developed technical ''hardware'' that allows to maintain ourselves in a relative state of metastablity. And if there is something that has emerged from our discussion of imagination and technology, it is that physical, biological and social evolution are possible irreversible, in the most strict thermodynamic sense. If life is that which continuously opposes itself to death, then our technical ''exosomatic'' organs are merely a continuation of that struggle, as Simondon expressed it: the technical object fights against the death of the universe.


        

         

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         Stiegler, Bernard (1998), Technics and time (Meridian; Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press) v.

         Toscano, Alberto (2007a), 'The Disparate: Ontology and Politics in Simondon', in University of Sussex (ed.), Society for European Philosophy/Forum for European Philosophy (Sussex), 7.

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