Posts Tagged ‘modes of existence’

Gilbert Simondon’s transindividual

17 November 2012

Speaking of Henning Schmidgen, I encountered his name once again this week: this time on the back cover of an interesting new book (new in English, that is), Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual by Muriel Combes (translated by Thomas LaMarre). There is also a substantial afterword by LaMarre entitled “Humans and Machines.”

Here is what Schmidgen says about the book:

This book is highly recommended to all of those wishing to better understand the radical importance of Simondon in current debates about networked affectivity, nonhuman agency, and the politics of nature. (…) Combes constructs an innovative form of multiplied materialism.”

Other endorsers include Eric Alliez:

Published in 1999, Muriel Combes’s succinct book remains to this day the best introduction to Simondon’s opus. But it does better: it introduces through Simondon the most contemporary stakes of an ontology of relation turned toward a politics of individuation.

…and Robert Mitchell:

With remarkable concision, Combes covers the entirety of Simondon’s work, from his breathtaking theory of individuation to his philosophy of technology and technical objects, while LaMarre’s afterword helpfully links Combes’s account of Simondon to the work of authors such as Michel Foucault, Giorgio Agamben, Bruno Latour, and Isabelle Stengers.

…and Didier Debaise:

Gilbert Simondon was one of the most ambitious and inventive thinkers of twentieth-century philosophy but has for too long been unjustly neglected. Muriel Combes’s insightful book unquestionably ends this phase.

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Ant close-up

14 May 2011

Some lovely close-ups of ants on the BBC website (and more at AntWeb). My favourite one is Camponotus darwinii, which reminds me of a horse. Although this picture is not actually of the ant but a specimen of it on a pin. (Photographer: April Nobile, AntWeb)

As Latour would say, the ant had entered into another mode of existence:

Whatever your metaphysics, you would agree that there must be a nuance between being a horse and having a tiny fraction of the horse existence made visible in the Natural History Museum. The least provocative version of this crossing point is to say that horses benefited from a mode of existence while they were alive, a mode which aimed at reproducing and “enjoying” themselves — enjoyment is Alfred North Whitehead’s expression — and that, at the intersection with paleontologists, some of their bones, hundreds of thousands of years later, happened to enter into another mode of existence once fragments of their former selves had been shunted, so to speak, into paleontological pathways. Let’s call the first mode, subsistence and the second, reference (and let’s not forget that there might be many more than two modes).

Latour, B. (2006). “A Textbook Case Revisited – Knowledge as a Mode of Existence.” [PDF]

REProduction, REFerence, and RELigion

28 September 2008

Religion has figured in unusual ways in recent days. Tony Blair (as announced on the Daily Show ) started to teach a course on “Faith and Globalisation” at Yale last week. The archbishops of the Church of England were commenting on the financial technique of short selling earlier this week. And on Thursday, Bruno Latour – connecting the ecological crisis, science, and religion – asked: “Will Non-humans be Saved?” Read the text of his lecture here [PDF]. Latour addresses the standoff between creationism and neo-Darwinism by redefining what science and religion do on the basis of three ontological categories or “modes of existence:” reproduction, reference, and religion.