Saturday, December 6, 2003

Simondon: complexity theory and sociology

Abe points to Steven Shaviro's recent post on Gilbert Simondon. Fascinating stuff, and yet another gentle reminder that sociologists have been grappling with networks and interfaces far longer than has been in vogue with discussions of "social software".

Simondon's most thorough English-language champion has been Adrian Mackenzie - in his book Transductions: Bodies and Machines At Speed. I posted on Mackenzie's article Transductions: invention, innovation and the problem of representing technology (pdf) some time back - and more recently took up Rob Kitchin's use of Simondon (via Mackenzie).

As Shaviro explains in his post, Simondon's work on individuation is also at the core of Du mode d'existence des objets techniques - an English essay on this is "The Genesis of the Individual" in Crary & Kwinter's Incorporations (scroll half-way down the page for the section on Simondon).

However, ideas on intersubjectivity, emergence, complexity and collectives have been taken up in one way or another by Michel Serres and Bruno Latour, as well as by Niklas Luhmann. If you're more physics-oriented, Eric Picholle's work also draws on Simondon.

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