animal, desire, ecology, individuation, mythology, psychology, Simondon

Simondon in English: “Two Lessons on Animal and Man”

It is my great delight to help announce the publication of one of the first book-length English translations available of the writings of French philosopher of technology Gilbert Simondon (1924-1989), published by Univocal. The volume is available under the title Two Lessons on Animal and Man and was translated by Drew Burk. The work is composed of a series of lectures intended for undergraduates interested in the humanities, especially philosophy, sociology and psychology.

As the translator puts it, “[f]or many, Gilbert Simondon is an unheard of landscape of philosophical inquiry. For other thinkers such as Gilles Deleuze and Bernard Stiegler his work on individuation is essential for the task of moving outside anthropocentric conceptions of identity formation and humanity’s relationship to the technical universe.” (Two Lessons on Animal and Man, Translator’s Note) I might merely add that in this text Simondon offers insights that are of vital urgency and interest, especially to those called by this aptly-designated “task.”

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activity, alterity, birth, break, darkness, event, evolution, individuation, matter, network, neurosis, sexuality, speech, transformation, world






The world is hollow. In-itself anything is precisely nothing. 

A thing exists positively only in the precise sense that it exhibits certain forces, that it forms connections or disjunctions with other things, or assemblages of things, in such and such a way. 

Moreover, is it not necessary that at some point in the process of any machine, there is something that may and must become reduced to a generic and redundant unit? 

It may indeed be said that the machine presents us with the most spectacular and dangerous breakthrough in all of history, a breakthrough written into our desires themselves.

Love is not a question of signals, but of production. Not words but noise. The word is hollow: in itself everything means precisely nothing. Yet no thought is ever without its heretical dimension, its strange and apocalyptic promise — the dangerous promise of possible knowledge. 

Not only does nothing “exist,” but it is the essence of existence itself, and so all knowledge is a kind of nothingness: a rigorous silence, a selective and critical passivity, a dangerous and misunderstood weakness. 

Truth is a parasite, we are infected: knowledge is never without this vertigo dimension of being self-imposed, like a sickness which you acquire simply by imagining it. 

I emphasize this point precisely because it is all too clearly understood by the creature within. and is it not so that when its roaring becomes imperceptible, we encounter an ancient silence, without limits? 

Yet everything begins in noise.

affectivity, allagmatic, becoming, Disparation, emotivity, ensemble, form, hylemorphism, individualization, individuation, information, metastability, milieu, model, modularity, ontogenesis, potential, preindividual, signal, signification, Simondon, subject, system, Transduction, transindividual

A Short List of Gilbert Simondon’s Vocabulary


1. Affectivity -This term designates a relation between an individualized being and the pre-individual milieu; it is thus heterogeneous to individualized reality. This is why Simondon claims that affectivity, more than perception, indicates a spirituality that is greater than the individualized being (the Sublime) because perception is merely the functions of the structures interior to this being (L’Individuation psychique et collective, p. 108–hereafter cited as IPC). Simondon writes that affectivity is the ground of emotion, as perception is the ground of action (107).

2. Allagmatic – The Greek word allagma can mean change or vicissitude, but it can also mean that which can be given or taken in exchange, which more genuinely captures the idea of energy exchange in Simondon’s usage.

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art, communication, complexity, culture, energy, form, history, individuation, information, knowledge, legitimacy, narrative, noise, non-linearity, ontology, Science / Mathematics / Technology, self-organization, transcendence

Energy and Culture: Notes on “Postmodern” Science

Science, Information and Time

There are no whole truths: all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.

Alfred North Whitehead

It is necessary to go beyond all the pieces of spoken information; to extract from them a pure speech-act, creative story-telling which is as it were the obverse side of the dominant myths, of current words and their supporters.
It is also necessary to go beyond all the visual layers; to set up a pure informed person capable of emerging from the debris, of surviving the end of the world, hence capable of receiving into the body the pure act of speech.

Gilles Deleuze (The Time-Image)

Becoming unfolds along spatial and temporal symmetries. Biogenesis is the slow process of isolating extensive differences (from a million intensive differences) and making its form hard, becoming like a diamond or like a stone in the river — so that the difference become invisible to the stream, to the flow, but resists and therefore modifies the flow imperceptibly. Continue reading

biology, crystal, cybernetics, form, individuation, knowledge, machine, physics, psychology, Science / Mathematics / Technology, Simondon, structure, technology, tension

Simondon and the Machine: Technology, Individuation, Reality

Fractal Effervescence (2006), David April


Simondon and the Theory of Individuation

There is something eternal in a technical scheme… and it is that which is always present, and can be conserved in a thing.

Gilbert Simondon

Gilbert Simondon’s reformulation of information theory on the basis of a new philosophy of technology has, in comparison to earlier attempts, at least the following major advantages to its credit:

His thought introduces us to an entirely new way of understanding technology. His earliest work investigates the intrinsic nature of the machine. He asks about the conditions of the genesis of machines in the world, the essential nature of their concrescence from an abstract model.

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Bachelard, Barthélémy, becoming, bergson, communication, complexity, French Translation, individuation, ontogenesis, ontology, philosophy of science, physiology, Simondon, singularities, Teildhard de Chardin, transindividual, Untranslated Theory

Translation: Jean-Hugues Barthélémy on Simondon, Bergson and Teilhard de Chardin


The following is the first half of chapter 1 from Jean-Hugues Barthélémy’s book Penser l’individuation: Simondon et la philosophie de la nature. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2005. p. 37-48. Original translation by Taylor Adkins on 10/22/07.

Chapter 1

The concept of object and the concept of subject, in the same virtue of their origin, are limits that philosophical thought must overcome. –Gilbert Simondon

1. Ontology and ontogenesis: from Bergson to Simondon

The philosophically fundamental watchword of all Simondian thought undoubtedly resides in the idea according to: the process of individuation cannot be ob-jectified by knowledge, since the former is produced by the latter if the knowledge of individuation is itself the individuation of knowledge. This is why the principal introduction of his thesis ends with these lines:

We cannot, in the usual sense of the term, know the individuation; we can only individuate, individuate ourselves, and individuate in ourselves; this seizure is thus, in the margin of knowledge properly stated, an analogy between two operations, which is a certain mode of communication. The individuation of the real exterior to the subject is seized by the subject thanks to the analogical individuation of knowledge in the subject; but it is through the individuation of knowledge and not by knowledge alone that the individuation of (non-subject) beings is seized. Beings can be known by the knowledge of the subject, but the individuation of beings can be seized only by the individuation of the knowledge of the subject.[1]

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abstract machine, assemblage, autopoeisis, becoming, being, change, communication, complexity, differentiation, Disparation, formalization, French Translation, individuation, information, materiality, metastability, model, modularity, morphogenesis, morphology, ontogenesis, ontology, philosophy of science, production, self-actualization, Simondon, singularities, structure, system, technology, Untranslated Theory

Translation: Simondon, Completion of Section I, Chapter 1, The Individual and Its Physico-Biological Genesis


In the first place, singularities-events correspond to heterogeneous series which are organized into a system which is neither stable nor unstable, but rather ‘metastable,’ endowed with a potential energy wherein the differences between series are distributed. (Potential energy is the energy of the pure event, whereas forms of actualization correspond to the realization of the event). In the second place, singularities posses a process of auto-unification, always mobile and displaced to the extent that a paradoxical element traverses the series and makes them resonate, enveloping the corresponding singular points in a single aleatory point and all the emissions, all dice throws, in a single cast. In the third place, singularities or potentials haunt the surface. Everything happens at the surface in a crystal which develops only on the edges. Undoubtedly, an organism is not developed in the same manner. An organism does not cease to contract in an interior space and to expand in an exterior space–to assimilate and to externalize. But membranes are no less important, for they carry potentials and regenerate polarities. They place internal and external spaces into contact without regard to distance. The internal and external, depth and height, have biological value only through this topological surface of contact. Thus, even biologically, it is necessary to understand that ‘the deepest is the skin.’ The skin has as its disposal a vital and properly superficial potential energy. And just as events do not occupy the surface but rather frequent it, superficial energy is not localized at the surface, but is rather bound to its formation. Gilbert Simondon has expressed this very well: the living lives at the limit of itself, on its limit… The characteristic polarity of life is at the level of the membrane; it is here that life exists in an essential manner, as an aspect of a dynamic topology which itself maintains the metastability by which it exists… The entire content of internal space is topologically in contact with the content of external space at the limits of the living; there is, in fact, no distance in topology; the entire mass of living matter contained in the internal space is actively present to the external world at the limit of the living… To belong to interiority does not mean only to ‘be inside,’ but to be on the ‘in-side’ of the limit… At the level of the polarized membrane, internal past and external future face one another. [Gilles Deleuze, Logic of Sense. Trans. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale. New York: Columbia, 1990. p. 103-104.]

Gilbert Simondon, L’individu et sa genese physico-biologique (Paris: P.U.F., 1964), pp. 260-264. This entire book, it seems to us, has special importance, since it p Continue reading