I had never heard of Gilbert Simondon before but Dr. Thus, I decided that walking 25 meters from my office to the lecture room was an acceptable risk to learn a bit about Gilbert Simondon. Gilbert Simondon and the Theory of Individuation Gilbert Simondon was one of the most influential contemporary French philosophers, only recently have his works been translated into English and thus been discovered by a broader audience. He is best-known for his theory of individuation, which in turn was a major inspiration for philosophers like Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour, and Bernard Stiegler. The majority of his work has not been translated into English and, thus, not really found the attention of an international audience. This also means that the almighty internet does not provide many synopses or digested pieces about his work 1.

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Reviewed by Donald A. And yet, entering into the philosophical universe of Simondon, however inspiring and exciting it may be to the already initiated, is not a task without its difficulties. Simondon draws on and subtly reworks an incredible number of conceptual resources, often offering his reader fleeting references and definitions that quickly morph into the conceptual apparatus that is taking shape through his investigation itself. He enacts an individuating operation of what he might call a "transductive" movement in the becoming of knowledge arriving at a new metastable equilibrium.

And even this characterization reveals one of the difficulties of writing on Simondon -- the initiated reader will take up the language, the uninitiated reader will be lost in the wash of terms! Yet like any emerging school of thought, Simondonian scholarship has emerged as an important critical hermeneutic enterprise in its own right. In short, Bardin seems to offer a genuinely Simondonian analysis of the individuation of "Simondon. Completed in , various parts of it were published separately, but the unified text with appropriate accompanying apparatus was not available until In Part I Bardin sets out to clarify the ontological and epistemological status of the concepts Simondon employs.

As mentioned, these concepts are often drawn from scientific thought quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, cybernetics. Bardin does a particularly good job in parsing the terms "individual," "individuation," "individualization," and the "process of individuation [ontogenesis]. For Simondon, the tradition has failed to recognize that the individual is not simply a self-identical entity but rather simultaneously a "structure" and an "operation.

This necessitates rebuilding both our ontological assumptions and our epistemological methods simultaneously, a process that Simondon accomplishes via his allagmatics theory of operations and by developing the cybernetic concept of "information" and the new logic of transductive operations or transduction more generally. Chapter 2, for instance, reconstructs the Simondonian reformulation of the Gestalt notion of "form" and the cybernetic notion of "information. Invention is a process accomplished by a "subject," which is wider than the "individual" and includes the pre-individual structures carried forward by the individual as she confronts the urgencies of the present milieu that call for a "transductive reaction.

Yet, rather than exploring the phenomenological legacy of this insight into "the transductive process as it presents itself at the level of thought" 59 , Bardin connects this to the question of knowledge, such that knowledge is between pure discovery and pure invention.

And further, epistemology requires an ontology of the knowing "subject" again wider than the "individual , an analogical becoming of "what is known and the becoming of the [knowing] subject" 59, Bardin, citing Simondon. Bardin makes important steps in thinking of the term "subject" in Simondon, though perhaps more remains to be said in this direction.

The biological thus becomes the guiding paradigm, but not the biological in the sense of the classical image of the individuated organism. This allows us to see the deep complexity at work in the social theory of Simondon, a theory of open and integrated ongoing individuations.

In this course Simondon conceptualizes the "cycle of the image" in such a way that it precludes a philosophy of "sense" in which meaning is produced by individuals. For Simondon, sense emerges from relations of communication among organisms and milieus via "subjects" and evolving structures.

Symbolic production thus emerges through the paradigm of the organism-milieu relationship , and each "cycle" of the image by which an image becomes significant for a group and is thus used in the construction of a community at once suspends ontogenesis and also "de-organizes" again for furthering the trajectory of individuation.

As such, "the act of invention is not essentially different from the modalities of organized growth characterizing organisms" Bardin, citing Simondon, For Bardin, this movement is something of a metapolitcs, an identification of the place of invention between the regulatory norms of culture and the ongoing questioning both from within via the internal tensions and from without via the evolving milieu that the system itself is in the process of at least partially restructuring.

Nevertheless, the positive contribution this book makes is remarkable, particularly through the integration of thinkers as diverse as Bergson, Wiener, Durkheim, and Leroi-Gourhan. Bardin provides us with a fascinating study in the metastable structure of "Simondon," and his contribution on the question of the political in Simondon is an important step in the future of Simondonian scholarship. Simondon et la philosophie de la nature.

Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Chabot, P. The philosophy of Simondon: Between technology and individuation trans: Krefetz, A. New York: Bloomsbury. Combes, M. Gilbert Simondon and the philosophy of the transindividual trans: LaMarre, T.

Cambridge: MIT Press. Landes, D. Merleau-Ponty and the Paradoxes of Expression.


Gilbert Simondon, Individuation, and STS – An Attempt At Understanding

From the very first, scholars have judged it an invaluable guide for anyone wishing to enter the complex and labyrinthine world of Simondon, an enigmatic and somewhat elusive thinker. The sophistication with which Combes explicates and systematizes his baroque texts is admirable and a model to emulate. Indeed, she makes clear that what prohibits most political and social theorists from fully grasping the relationship between the collective and the individual is precisely blindness to their own ontological presumptions. It points to the fact that the individual is only ever incompletely individuated, only ever unfinished, only ever -- to some degree -- mutable and relational, a "reserve of becoming". Every individual is "more-than-identity" and "more-than-unity. Now, we must not forget that what initially is at stake for Simondon are the grounds for reforming knowledge so that it correlates with the shift from ontology to ontogenesis. There can no longer be knowledge of individuation in the typical Kantian sense of the term.


Gilbert Simondon



Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual





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