empiricism, entropy, error, French Translation, Hermes, information, information theory, mathematics, negentropy, philosophy of science, sensation, Serres, Untranslated Theory

Translation: Michel Serres and the Mathematization of Empiricism

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The following is a translation of Michel Serres’s essay “Mathematization of Empiricism.” from Hermes II: L’Interférence. Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1972. 195-200. Original translation by Taylor Adkins 11/03/07.

The law known as Fechner-Weber’s law can be written S = K log I, and read: sensation grows like the logarithm of the stimulus[1]. The definition of Information, in the contemporary sense, can be written I = K log P, and read: information grows like the logarithm of the number of equally probable states[2]. Can the analogy of formation result in thinking the analogy of the alleged phenomena?

1. The notion of information is used in physics and communication theory in a way independent from the sense of the message that transports it. A succession of letters forming a word deprived of sense for whomever contains an easily calculable quantity of information. This magnitude does not have any relation to knowledge, in its traditional meaning. It is independent of the sense of the message, it is it thus of the observer.

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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

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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

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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

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Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, Disparation, individuation, information, philosophy of science, potentiality, pre-individual milieu, Ruyer, Simondon, singularities, Transduction

Paper Proposal: Information, Disparation, Transformation: Simondon, Ruyer, Deleuze and the Affective Pre-Individual Field of Singularities

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Paper Proposal : Philosophy of Science

Information, Disparation and Affectivity: the Pre-Individual Field of Singularities in Simondon, Ruyer and Deleuze

On the importance of disparate series and their internal resonance in the constitution of systems, see Gilbert Simondon, L’individu et sa genese physico-biologique, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1964, p. 20. (However, Simondon maintains as a condition the requirement of resemblance between series, or the smallness of the differences in play: pp. 254-7). [Gilles Deleuze. Difference and Repetition. Trans. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia, 1994. fn. 25, p. 318.]

On depth, stereoscopic images and the ‘solution of the antinomies,’ see Raymond Ruyer, ‘Le relief axiologique et le sentiment de la profondeur,’ Revue de metaphysique et de morale, July 1956. On the primacy of ‘disparateness’ in relation to opposition, see Gilbert Simondon’s critique of Lewin’s ‘hodological space’ in L’individu et sa genese physico-biologique, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1964, pp. 232-4. [Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition. Trans. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia, 1994. fn. 12, p. 330.]

Raymond Ruyer, La genese des formes vivantes, Paris: Flammarion, 1958. pp. 91 ff.: “The mystery of differenciation cannot be elucidated by making it the effect of differences in situation produced by equal divisions…”. Ruyer, no less than Bergson, profoundly analysed the notions of the virtual and actualisation. His entire biological philosophy rests upon them along with the idea of the ‘thematic.’ See Elements de psycho-biologie, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1946, ch. 4. [Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition. Trans. Paul Patton. New York: Columbia, 1994. fn. 28, p. 328.]

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abstraction, badiou, Carnap, Dialectical Materialism, epistemology, French Translation, ideology, marxism, mathematics, meta-theory, model, philosophy of science, Quine, Untranslated Theory

Translation: Alain Badiou and the Concept of the Model: Introduction to a Materialist Epistemology of Mathematics

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The following is the first three sections of Alain Badiou’s first theoretical book Le Concept de modèle: introduction à une épistémologie matérialiste des mathématiques. Paris: Maspero, 1968. p. 7-17 and is an original translation by Taylor Adkins [10/17/07].

Editor’s Advertisement:

The beginning of this text continues a talk given on April 29, 1968 by Alain Badiou within the framework of the “Course of philosophy for scientists” given to the National university.

This continuation should have been the subject of a second exposition on May 13, 1968. This day, it is known, the popular masses mobilized against the middle-class Gaullist dictatorship affirming in all the country their determination, and enticing the process that led to a confrontation of classes on a great scale, upsetting the political economic situation, and causing effects whose continuation will not be made to wait.

It is often imagined that in this storm, the intervention on the philosophical front had to pass to a second plan.

This very day, the somewhat “theoretical” accents of this text return to a surpassed economic situation. The struggle, also ideological, requires a totally different style of labor and a just and lucid political combativeness. It is no longer a question of aiming at a target without reaching it.

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chaos, complexity, Cosmogony, Cosmology, Distribution, Eternal Return, French Translation, kant, Laplace, michel serres, Nietzsche, philosophy of science, system, Untranslated Theory

Translation: Michel Serres and the Eternal Return

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The following is Michel Serres’s essay “Eternal Return” in Hermes IV: Distribution. Paris: Les Editions de Minuit, 1977. pp. 115-124. Original translation by Taylor Adkins on 10/10/07

Philosophers glorify Nietzsche for having suddenly rejoined the Greeks through their fulgurating intuition of the Eternal Return. Either from an ignorance of ethics or incomprehension of the general figure that this thesis takes in his philosophy, I reduce this to a vision of the world. Vision with the meaning of sight, and world with the sense of the world. All simply.

If time is considered in geometrical figures by optical interceptions and a mechanism of movements, the Eternal Return is cosmological. In that case, the solar system (and it only) has been calculated by Laplace. Celestial Mechanics and the Exposition of the System of the World established rigorously, for the first time, the mechanical invariability of the large axes for the planetary orbits. The stars turn forever. This eternal return reduces the world to the exclusion of the universe, and reduces mechanism to the exclusion of other sciences. Neither the Greeks nor the classical age ever obtained this demonstration. Conversely, the time that we consider is reversible.

If the time that one endorses is that of a formation, of bodies as spheres, and with which one tries to surpass mechanical reversibility, then, if there is return, it is cosmogonic. However, cosmogony enters science little by little around the middle of the 18th century, with Thomas Wright and Buffon. If Laplace has erased the latter in the seventh note of the Exposition, the former has inspired Kant. Natural History and the Theory of the Sky marks the appearance of the Eternal Return in scientific cosmogony.

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Bachelard, Deleuze, image of thought, philosophy of science, problematics, psychoanalysis, unconscious, value

Bachelard and the Psychoanalysis of Affective Stereotypes

A word will suddenly reverberate in us and find too lingering an echo in cherished, old ideas; an image will light up and persuade us outright, abruptly, and all at once. In reality, a serious, weighty word, a key word, only carries everyday conviction, conviction that stems more from the linguistic past or from the naivety of primary images than from objective truth…All description nucleates in this way and collects about centres that are too bright. Unconscious thought gathers around these centres–these nuclei–and thus the mind is introverted and immobilised. —Gaston Bachelard, Formation of the Scientific Mind

In this work Bachelard theorizes a pedagogical psychoanalysis that will attempt to reinstate the sense of the problem in science and remove any unconscious valorizations that occur through the development of scientific knowledge. The sense of the problem is at the forefront of Bachelard’s project because he believes that all knowledge must be an answer to a question (24-25). Moreover, the conservative instinct takes a stunting grip on science insofar as it becomes self-satisfied with the solutions it has already established. These solutions are the same platitudes that teachers and textbooks command us to memorize. A psychoanalysis of the scientific mind is called upon when epistemological obstacles encrust knowledge that is not questioned.

In fact, this is Bachleard’s main thesis: knowledge becomes overcoded with affective images that reduce the efficacy of thought by burdening it with so many coefficients of values. This instructs us on a difference between the historian of science and the epistemologist: the former considers the errors of a previous mode of thought to still constitute facts insofar as they entail real investments and beliefs. The latter, however, proceeds to link facts to a system of ideas that can show how these errors harbor a specific power of the problematic insofar as they represent counter-thoughts. Thus Bachelard believes that truly scientific knowledge always mobilizes its forces against previous knowledge.

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