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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French Translations, Laruelle, notes, schema, Simondon

Translations and Schema Upgraded: Now with PDFs


I have recently added links to the translations and the schema page to PDF files for those that are interested. I would imagine that this would be a much more useful way to orient this resource towards a wider public, or simply to ease the work of having to read text online.

I still have yet to fully introduce the translations or the notes that we have on this site. I hope this can become something of a side project for December when classes are out. Therefore, the files are not really sorted according to content, but simply according to author(s).

On a side note, I have finished translating the first chapter of Gilbert Simondon’s L’Individuation psychique et collective. Normally I would post this on the site: but this is going to be a part of a project that might turn into an actual book publication. I don’t know the details yet, but I’ve been conferring with Samuel Weber about this possibility, and I will definitely keep everyone informed on the process.

Another tangent: I have also begun working on the introduction to Laruelle’s Philosophy and Non-Philosophy. I’m hoping that re-press will be interested in it; if not, I’ll find a use for it on the blog.

Joe and I have some papers due soon, so expect some full posts in about a week!

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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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

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


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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