Reading Group as part of the Praxis-CFUL activities
Working language: English
Organizer: Dr. Ricardo Mendoza-Canales (rcanales [at] letras.ulisboa.pt)
Where: Room B112.E (Library Building)
When: Thursdays, from 14h00 to 16h00 (according to the calendar below)
To participate, please send an e-mail to the convenor expressing your interest in taking part in the RG.
For decades, Gilbert Simondon was just a name mentioned in a handful of footnotes in influential books by Gilles Deleuze, Jean Baudrillard or Herbert Marcuse. Although he belonged to the same generation of first-line French philosophers such as Deleuze, Foucault, or Derrida, Simondon remained almost unknown, far from fame and recognition. He soon gained a reputation as a philosopher of technology with the publication of his first and best-known work, Du mode d’existence des objects techniques (1958), which corresponds to his secondary doctoral dissertation defended that same year; but since it wasn’t a hot topic at the time, his work remained merely as a distant reference, only accessible in the French-speaking milieu. This, together with the vicissitudes of the publication of his main doctoral dissertation, L’individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et information (split and published in two separate parts with a gap of more than thirty years between them), and the fact that Simondon’s intellectual interests were not part of the mainstream philosophies of his time and thus moved in a different direction from those of his contemporaries, confabulated against him to remain confined to a restricted field of research, so that his philosophical project, until very recently, could never be appreciated in its radical unity, consistency, breadth and depth.
Nowadays, the sustained publication of his unpublished works (accompanied by an important rhythm of translations into the most widely used philosophical languages) has made available to scholars a wider scope of his entire philosophical project, which, in a nutshell, consists in reassessing the relationship between nature and culture, describing it as process in which life and being are part of a one single operation of becoming. This ambitious task demands a profound reformulation of every philosophical field concerned with this relationship: metaphysics, theory of knowledge, ethics, aesthetics, philosophical anthropology. By restoring the centrality that the paradigm of technique plays in shaping all human interaction with the world, Simondon rejects the primacy of substantialism and the hylomorphic scheme (matter-form interaction) as the bedrock of the classical Western metaphysics. Conversely, he pleas for a theory of individuation in terms of information, in which being is in a continuous process of becoming through operations of structuring and amplification.
The purpose of this reading group is to introduce and deepen our understanding of Simondon’s theory of individuation. To this end, we will close-read in its entirety his major work, Individuation in Light of Notions of Form and Information. The goals are: 1) to unravel together the dense web of concepts unfolded in this work (such as individuation, singularity, pre-individual, ontogenesis, operation, metastability, transduction, modulation, allagmatics, transindividuality, etc.); 2) to explore the ontological, ethical, political, and aesthetic consequences of thinking of individuation as a process that takes place in different regimes of reality (physical, biological, psychic, social); and 3) to grasp the significance of this philosophy of nature and a “genetic encyclopedism” that Simondon advocates, as well as its implications in our digital age and technological environment.
The English translation is strongly recommended as primary reading, as the sessions will be conducted in English:
Individuation in Light of Notions of Form and Information. Vol. 1. Taylor Adkins (trans.). Minneapolis-London: University of Minnesota Press, 2020.
(Original French edition) L’individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et information. 2eme. ed. Paris: J. Millon, 2013.
(Spanish) La individuation a la luz de las nociones de forma e información. 2a. ed. Pablo Ires (trad.). Buenos Aires: Cactus, 2013.
(Portuguese) A individuação à luz das noções de forma e informação. Luís Eduardo Ponciano Aragon e Guilherme Ivo (trad.). São Paulo: Editora 34, 2020.
(Italian) L’individuazione alla luce delle nozioni di forma e di informazione. 2a. ed. Giovanni Carrozzini (trad.). Milano: Mimesis, 2020.
Session 1 | 30 November 2023
Introduction (pp. 1-17)
Session 2 | 7 December 2023
Part I. Chap. 1. Form and Matter. I: “Foundations of the Hylomorphic Schema: Technology of Form-Taking” (pp. 21-36)
Session 3 | 14 December 2023
Part I. Chap. 1. Form and Matter. II: “Physical Signification of Technical Form-Taking” (pp. 37-47)
Session 4 | 18 January 2024
Part I. Chap. 1. Form and Matter. III: “The Two Aspects of Individuation” (pp. 47-54)
Session 5 | 25 January 2024
Part I. Chap. 2. Form and Energy (pp. 55-94)
Session 6 | 1 February 2024
Part I. Chap. 3. Form and Substance. I: “Continuous and Discontinuous” and II: “Particle and Energy” (pp. 95-125)
Session 7 | 8 February 2024
Part I. Chap. 3. III: “The Non-substantial Individual: Information and Compatibility” (pp. 126-164)
Session 8 | 15 February 2024
Part II. Chap. 1. Information and Ontogenesis: Vital Individuation. I: “Principles toward a Study of the Individuation of the Living
Being” (pp. 167-180)
Session 9 | 22 February 2024
Part II. Chap. 1. Information and Ontogenesis: Vital Individuation. II: “Specific Form and Living Substance” (pp. 180-208)
Session 10 | 29 February 2024
Part II. Chap. 1. Information and Ontogenesis: Vital Individuation. III: “Information and Vital Individuation” (pp. 208-225)
Session 11 | 7 March 2024
Part II. Chap. 1. Information and Ontogenesis: Vital Individuation. IVa: “Information and Ontogenesis” (pp. 225-244)
Session 12 | 14 March 2024
Part II. Chap. 1. Information and Ontogenesis: Vital Individuation. IVb: “Information and Ontogenesis” (pp. 244-256)
Session 13 | 21 March 2024
Part II. Chap. 2. Psychical Individuation. I: “Signification and the Individuation of Perceptive Units” (pp. 257-272)
Session 14 | 4 April 2024
Part II. Chap. 2. Psychical Individuation. II: “Individuation and Affectivity” (pp. 272-291)
Session 15 | 11 April 2024
Part II. Chap. 2. Psychical Individuation. IIIa: “Psychical Individuation and the Problematic of Ontogenesis” (pp. 291-308)
Session 16 | 18 April 2024
Part II. Chap. 2. Psychical Individuation. IIIb: “Psychical Individuation and the Problematic of Ontogenesis” (pp. 308-326)
Session 17 | 2 May 2024
Part II. Chap. 3. Collective Individuation and the Foundations of the Transindividual. I: “The Individual and the Social, Group Individuation” (pp. 327-344)
Session 18 | 9 May 2024
Part II. Chap. 3. Collective Individuation and the Foundations of the Transindividual. II: “The Collective as Condition of Signification” (pp. 344-355)
Session 19 | 16 May 2024
Conclusion (pp. 356-380)