Stengers on pharmakon, anticapitalist struggle and creation in the face of the ecological crisis

The following is a passage I just translated from Stengers’ Au temps des catastrophes: Résister à la barbarie qui vient. Looking back over the last few years, since I have been engaged in some more serious explorations of philosophy and politics, this is a book that I have returned to again and again in those times where my energy is low, my work-life seems to have taken over and I’m struggling to make time for the theoretical, practical and praxical engagements that matter to me. I’m honestly not into hero worship, but Stengers seems to offer such militant wisdom that it’s hard not to feel a certain sense of admiration. In this passage, Stengers brings up the question of the pharmakon and its relation with both struggle and creation in the face of the ecological crisis, which she invokes through her own twist on the figure of Gaia. Systematically anti-capitalist, I feel she speaks to the need of the hour with a lucidity that begs us to slow down and think and create even as we intensify and proliferate our struggles. What more can I say. There is so much work to be done!


Pages 129 – 137, Isabelle Stengers. Au Temps des Catastrophes: Résister à la Barbarie qui Vient. Les Empecheurs de penser en rond, Éditions La Découverte, Paris, 2009


I uphold that the question of the commoners needs – crucially – a particular version of the art of ‘paying attention’. In particular, the art that the Greeks called pharmakon, which can be translated as ‘drug’. What characterises the pharmakon is at the same time its efficacity and its lack of identity: depending on the dose and the use, it can just as well be a remedy or poison. It is thus for the attention that can be called forth by the movements of usagers (users who also have an active/creative engagement with what they use): the type of attention that their ‘milieu’ lends them is capable of either nourishing or poisoning them. And the same pharmacological incertitude applies to what these movements can themselves produce. That they ‘can be dangerous’ goes without saying – all pharmakon can be dangerous. Rather, it is a matter of putting in suspense, by referring to the instability of the pharmakon, remedy or poison, the objection implicit in this utterance.

When a ‘responsable’ cries (and it is by this cry that we can recognise that he thinks himself ‘responsable’) “but that could be dangerous!”, he inherits with this “but” a history in which the instability of the pharmakon has ceaselessly been used to condemn it. A history that has ceaselessly privileged that which presents, or seems to present, the guarantees of a stable identity, making it possible to do away with the question of the appropriate attention, of learning the doses and the manner of preparation. A history in which the question of the pharmakon‘s efficacity has endlessly been subjugated, reduced to the question of causes believed to explain their effects.

The hate of pharmakon goes back a long way. One can, if one wants, bring it back to Plato, who defined philosophy by the requirement of such a stability against his rivals, the sophists, capable of the best and the worst. Or else to Christian monotheism, the invention of an intrinsically good God. Or else to the question of the power of judgement, which needs to abstract from its circumstances. Or again, to the passion to recognise the true contender from the imposters, a passion which nourishes a certain hunger for the truth. Our history is, in the end, saturated by multiple versions of the same obsession: that of doing away with pharmakon to the benefit of that which offers the guarantee of escaping from its hateable ambiguity. And isn’t such an offer the very seduction of that which, invoking the imprudence of use without restraint, would have the efficacity of a poison?

Let us return, from this vantage point, to the contrast between the response that the (open source) computer scientists (informaticiens) knew how to give to the operation of enclosure that threatened them, and the passive ressentiment of the majority of those, among the scientists, who have not already embraced the cause of the knowledge economy. This contrast is all the more intriguing because the cooperative character of scientific research served as a reference for the software developers. Why did the computer scientists succeed not only to defend their capacity to cooperate but also to think and invent links with users, like me, who count – from now on – on the possibility of freely downloading a program that responds to their needs? Why did the scientists preferentially link themselves with the State and industry, and why did they define the rest in terms of a lack (of knowledge and rationality), in such a manner, that at the moment where their allies began to make servants of them, they found themselves incapable of imagining a possibility of resisting?

Thinking in pharmacological terms, here, is to ask the question – not of the identity of the sciences – but of the difference of the ‘milieus‘ of these two practices, milieus which are not only ‘external’ but include the manner in which the practitioner evaluates his relations with them. The event which constituted the “birth of the modern sciences” is, from this point of view, significant. Today, we still find authors, although often interesting, who repeat this nonsense: if Europe was able to carve out a difference, notably from China, it’s because she discovered the power of scientific rationality and was thereby able to identify the laws obeyed by nature. The success of the propaganda operation initiated by Galileo, which continues to infect the imagination of both scientists and non-scientists, could well hold to the notion that the propaganda is virtually without designer. The practical novelty effectively associated with experimental proof would have found a ready-made milieu, capable of giving it this kind of echo. As rare as the so-called ‘experimental’ facts are (capable of bearing witness to the manner in which they must be interpreted), this capacity would have reactivated the old hate of pharmakon, of unstable opinion, of undecidable interpretations. A finally rational relation to the world had been created!

The constitution of this event would then have been less the novelty of the experimental success than the satisfaction of a much more ancient requirement, the requirement that a truth impose itself, which is to say that it be capable of manifesting its difference from its rivals. No surprise then that the “it hasn’t been proven” came so easily to coincide with “it’s not worthy of consideration”, and that the suspicion of irrationality came to weigh on those who took an interest in “that which has not been proven.”

In contrast, one could say that the practice of software developers was marked, from the outset, by the knowledge that what they were producing could be remedy or poison, notably by a possible future ruled by Big Brother. And this contrast has as its correlate the singular innovations of the computer science. It is a matter of a rare case where the technical, cultural, social and political enjeux (stakes) were intimately knotted. An all the more remarkable case given that its history is anchored in a military development. It should not be forgotten that software is linked with war and that today, more than ever, it is an instrument of control, repression and exploitation. But that it is not only this, we owe it perhaps to the particularity of the practitioners who never considered their technology as innocent, who never handed over the responsibility of the choice of whether to make a good or bad use to politicians (consider the well-known argument used ritualistically by scientists: is it the fualt of the person who invented the axe that it was used for killing?).

The pharmacological approach does not permit the posing of the question “whose fault is it?”, to proceed with the distribution of guilt and innocence. The software developers who knew how to resist are not ‘better’ than the scientists who couldn’t. Rather, it requires thinking “by the milieu”. And the case of the scientists shows that a milieu that is obsessed with establishing a stable distinction between remedy and poison, is a milieu that poisons, which destroys. How many attempts were disqualified because they could not offer guarantees that none should have been able to offer?! How many brutal judgements were passed against that which, fragile and precarious, was asking to be nourished and protected!

In all cases, the time of guarantees is over, this is the first sense conferred by the intrusion of Gaia. Which does not signify that everything has the same value, resigned sigh or horrified cry expressing again and always the search for a value endowed with the power to denounce rivals who would be mere imposters. Which signifies that, that which has value must first be defined as vulnerable, and that the dynamics of creation of knowledges, struggles and experiences that can respond to this intrusion are by definition vulnerable – each insufficient in its own right but important in terms of its possible repercussions, because it can incite other creations.

An answer is not reducible to a simple expression of conviction. It is fabricated. Successful or failed. No manner of responding can just proclaim a legitimacy that transcends the circumstances, which demands recognition by all, that dreams or requires that all will accept it as definitive But neither can any be condemned because it is vulnerable to a dangerous (mis?)use. The art of pharmakon proposes, on the contrary to those who pose the diagnosis “it could be dangerous” to recognise that the objection engages them, makes them an integral party to the process of fabrication. If they were to ignore that they are an integral party, they would nonetheless be so, as judges, and would contribute to a hostile or ironic milieu. But they can also be so as allies, by posing questions such as: “How can we contribute to avoid this danger?”; “How to cooperate against that which will lend itself to confirming our diagnosis?”; “How can we ‘create milieu’ on a mode that would help that which risks itself in existence?”

There exists only one certitude – that the process of creation of possibles must protect itself like the plague from a utopian mode, which appeals to the surpassing of conflicts, which proposes a remedy whose interest should, finally, be respected by all. The only generality that holds is that all creation must incorporate the knowledge that it does not risk itself in a friendly world, but in an unhealthy milieu, that it will have to deal with protagonists – the State, capitalism, professionals – who will exploit all weaknesses, and which will activate all processes capable of poisoning it (“recuperating” it). And doing so, for example, by recognising the usagers in a mode that transforms them into stakeholders, by creating situations which divide those who are seeking cooperation, by demanding inappropriate guarantees, or by creating infernal alternatives which dismember that which seeks to create its own position.

I have already emphasised that the intrusion of Gaia throws temporalities into disorder. The pharmacological art is required because the time of struggle cannot be deferred for ‘afterwards’ (when there will be no more danger), the time of creation; the time when humans could deploy – life, thought and joy – their creative capacities and combine their efforts for the benefit of all. But it is also required because those who seek to create cannot do so innocently, accusing those who struggle of wanting to “take power” while they themselves would have turned their back on such an ambition. The time of struggle and of creation must learn to conjugate themselves without confusion, by a form of relay, prolonging and reciprocal learning of the art of paying attention, under pain of mutually poisoning each other and leaving the terrain free for the coming barbarity.

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Catching up

I went to a screening of ‘5 broken cameras’ put on at Delhi University by a group of politically engaged students. The film was intense, disturbing and in many ways problematic. In the background, probably at that very hour, rockets were being fired into Palestine and footsoldiers were on the ground, raiding homes. Meanwhile, the prevailing allegiance in India is with Israel, a country with which it has deep political, economic and military ties. The exchange of strategies and tactics, the use of shared training grounds, the exchange of weapons is also a part of the Indian nation’s war on some of its most marginalised people and their struggles of resistance. When the film came to an end the room was silent. Everyone was just sat staring blankly, affectively disturbed, unable to do anything but let the images, the story and the horror gradually sink in. Eventually the silence was broken – it seemed premature – by a question: “Does anyone want to share a reflection?” An answer came, raising questions of violence and non-violence and the question of Hamas. The usual polarised positioning ensued, with details of the first and second intifada being used to bolster arguments. Unresolved disagreement: perhaps this conversation should be continued at another time. Eventually new questions: What can we do? Pressure the Indian state? Spread the truth? Sure. But has anyone seen what is going on in India? Has anyone observed the reconfiguration of power? How do we situate the question of solidarity in the context of a globalised capitalism that is in crisis and a producer of multiple crises? How do we negotiate the almost seamless chasm between discourse and deed that characterises the media-sphere of the state-capitalist nexus? When the whole capitalist-state apparatus speaks of ending poverty and yet is set on fast-tracking the wholesale plunder of the country’s resources, the destruction of its ecosystems and the further marginalisation and impoverishment of its people, what does one do?

There is a thesis that the capitalism has reached or is close to reaching rock bottom. It has penetrated to the places with the cheapest labour force and the most remote and inaccessible resources. It has nowhere left to fly to when confronted with obstacles – striking workers, laws, protesting indigenous people, militarised revolutionary groups. This leaves it with little option but to mobilise what could be called brute force: the deployment of its agents: the army, the police and the mafia – groups who physically violate those who resist: killing, torturing, massacring – even burning down entire villages. Meanwhile it wages a superbly orchestrated war of soft power – through control of the media, through gaming the legal system, through bribery, through PR agencies expert in glossing over the filth that lies under the carpet, through the mobilisation of networks of confluent interest (investors, politicians, industrialists, etc.), and through fuelling communal tensions, fragmenting resistance and so on. In India this can be witnessed across the country, as hundreds of striking workers get thrown in jail on false charges of killing a manager after violence was insighted by hired goons or others get brutally beaten and hospitalised for refusing to work over violation of labour laws. Elsewhere, adivasis and landless people – often backed more or less directly by any number of left political organisations, social movements or activist networks – struggle against displacement due to mega-mines, refineries, sea-ports, mega-dams, nuclear power stations, special tourism zones and thousand kilometre long industrial corridors. Ah. Development. Progress.

The minerals and extractives sector. Aside from humans – from labourers, from bureaucrats, the countless types of possessed or enslaved souls – isn’t this the primary fuel of capitalism? Capitalism cannot function without the exploitation of natural resources – it is inherent in its logic and most certainly dictated by its technological regime. Our global economy is based on this. It is the bauxite, sitting in the hills of Niyamgiri in Odisha – or in Brazil, or wherever – that will be used to create the weapons that pointlessly shred so many lives apart, as if they were worthless. True, if there is resistance in Niyamgiri then bauxite could just as well come from somewhere else. But today, most likely the resistance is mounting there too, in other places. In this situation, capital will be driven by two main things: (1) where is the resistance weakest; (2) where can the resistance be squashed for the lowest costs. After all, the loans that have been taken for developing the mines in Niyamgiri must be repaid to the investors – mostly banks based in the UK, elsewhere in Europe or in North America/Canada. These loans add up to billions, if not trillions, of dollars and they have been given for the extraction of minerals worth multiples of this. And so, we are really witnessing the final showdown in many ways. A relentless capitalism, mindlessly – algorithmically – plugging away, enacting a banal and monotonously simple calculus of profit for which everything is expendable. This means that we know, with crystal clarity, what is coming – what must come – so long as the machine is left intact.

Some might argue that there is another route: a separation from global capital, perhaps a national revolution if you will. But how can this proceed without ushering in an arms race? Witnessing the history of wars in the Middle East, for example, these last 15 years or so (the number of years I have been following unfolding events there – however partially), the emergence of new modes of warfare – from the perpetual surveillance and racism of the war on terror or the closer-to-home reality of the NSA to the second-order management of political instability in zones of perpetual conflict and the mainstreaming of drones – and the total opacity and illegality of military interventions – there is no chance of ‘being left alone’. We have seen Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and other uprsisings in the region getting sabotaged, thwarted, co-opted, or ruthlessly crushed. The notion that the revolutionary impulse can spread unpredictably and uncontrollably – like wildfire – is not lost on those who are able to pull the strings on the world stage. No resistance that goes beyond the cosmetic or superficial display of ‘democratic expression’ can be tolerated. Repression is a daily reality and fills the media channels of those who care to know.

Stengers writes – or I inherit from her – the idea that the only thing that can change a system such as capitalism, with its obstinate logics, its hired eyes and ears and its filthy, deceitful mouth capable only of manipulation, spouting platitudes or hurling infernal alternatives at people – is the creation of an event that confounds it, that creates a situation that it can neither ignore nor dispel. Such events function as a rupture in the smooth operations of capital (keeping in mind that war and destruction are part of this smotohness). Of course, confronted with a multi-faced capitalism, it is the multiplication of simultaneous – if not loosely coordinated – ruptures that amplifies the crisis. We know well that we can locate strategic points in the networks that sustain the smooth functioning of capital: major production units, power sources, extractive industries, supply lines and trade/communication routes to name some of the most prominent. This is one domain of resistance against capital. But the battle is a delicate one because resistance invokes the full wrath of the state-corporate nexus and its totally disproportionate military might. So, in the meanwhile, the work must turn to propaganda, or counter-propaganda, to the courts, the media, party politics, scientists, parliaments – to all the nodes in the network that might disrupt the very flows that capitalism depends on.

But India shakes us here. The new regime is hell-bent on weakening laws designed to guarantee workers certain basic rights or to protect the environment from total destruction – and of course it has a coterie of globalised financial and corporate giants drooling over it, salivating at the prospect of a massive and totally expendable work-force and hundreds of billions of dollars worth of resources packed under the soil or in the seas all gauranteed through a servile police force equipped with riot gear, water cannons, rubber coated bullets and, if that’s not enough, countless massess in the (para-military) Central Reserve Police Force or – why not – the army itself. Of course, plenty of work can be carried out under the radar through hired goons. The sites of so many existing and prospective mines, dams, etc., are in areas where the greater part of the population live with minimal material consumption. This is the result of both their cultures and traditions on the one hand and their long history of relations with states of varying degrees of hostility toward them. As their marginalisation and expropriation intensifies and their young are educated – if at all – in schools that alienate them from their cultural contexts and turn them into servants – the phenomenon known as poverty creeps in and soon a good number of people can be bought for relatively little. These people work as goons – sometimes from outside, sometimes from within – sometimes mobilised along communal lines, sometimes paid, sometimes given free reign to take whatever they can, a share of the spoils. And it doesn’t take many goons to cause a great deal of damage, to weaken morale, to silence someone outspoken, to kill someone, to set traps for activists and stage events that make them look crinimal in the public eye, to do ecological damage that will take a lifetime or more to repair. This is the story that repeats itself across the land. It is a story that shrivels life in its wake, that gropes for the meaning it destroys and produces the meaning and the bodies that will one day rise up to destroy it in turn.

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Wazirpur update

It’s been a while since my last post, in which I shared some ramblings following a short visit to Wazirpur, an old industrial area in the north of Delhi. I was quite surprised to discover that a major strike broke out about a month after my visit. I know nothing of the specifics of how this came together but it makes for quite a striking event in light of my last post! Clearly the palpable sense of the potential for erruption was validated and, most encouragingly, the existence of solidarity amongst workers occupying such precarious positions has revealed itself, leaving me with that brief, warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing that such things are possible, against the odds.


Some further references for those who are interested:

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Wazirpur – visit 1

A few days ago I visited Wazirpur, an old industrial neighbourhood in north Delhi. At some point, after the 80s (?), capital pulled out of the area in a big way, leaving behind an air of  dereliction. Today, the place is home to a plethora of small crumbling workshops where precarious labourers toil for long hours, doing dangerous jobs for less than minimum wages.

* * *

The grey streets of Wazirpur, spotted with colour: some rotting cabbages and tomatoes wedged into the open sewer, as though a pile of damp rubble and trash had erupted from the broken concrete. The sun was out blasting its 40ºC onto the sweating heads of meandering locals and the soot-covered walls of dilapidated factories. Hive-like clusters of tiny brick houses perched all over each other peaked out from behind the factories. In the shadowy interiors of clamorous workshops, workers moved about to the metallic clang of hammering or stood beside blasting furnaces, sliding strips of steel into and out of the machine. Some stood at the factory entrances, in twos or threes, chatting a little or just staring out at the street.

They were not difficult to approach. I was carrying some copies of a magazine that some friends of mine were distributing, dealing with labour issues, particularly in the context of May Day, which was the next day. Holding out my magazine I would get chatting with the people in the streets or sitting at a chai stall, most of them labourers, apparently on an off-day. In Wazirpur, Wednesday is the local version of the weekend.

I learned a lot from these conversations about the place, its people, the local political dynamics, the condition of the labourers, and the functioning of the factories, the housing system, basic services and legal institutions. I would be a fool to suggest I have more than a superficial picture of the place, but even that is enough to get a sense of how, broadly, it holds together: the shadowy forces busily playing with the dynamics of life, regulating life, shaping life, crippling life.

A man walked along, his wife close behind, and when we stopped him to light a beedie, we saw his hands were swollen, misshapen and blackened around the knuckles, on both hands. “What happened to your hands?” one of us asked. “Oh! It’s from my job!” he exclaimed, “I work with pots and I have to put my hands like this…” He placed his hands on his legs, showing how his knuckles received a kind of constant interaction with the metal pots he worked on. “So, are you going to the hospital?” One of us asked. The man started laughing. “No. No. This is how my hands are now!” His wife had been getting impatient and was calling him away. We continued in our respective ways.

I met people from Bihar, UP and Rajasthan. Some said they had grown up in Wazirpur, some had been there for almost 20 years and some just arrived last month. It was a life where no one felt secure. The slightest slip and they could quickly find themselves out of a job – especially if that slip was to suggest that working conditions should be improved. The general pattern was around 10-50 labourers (men for the most part) in a factory, mostly doing metalwork. They worked shifts of 12-14 hours daily with no pay for working overtime, barely getting paid enough to live, having no medical insurance, no rights, and no job security whatsoever. When the labour inspector comes, staff are often ordered to leave the factories so that they can’t speak up.

With the constant influx of new aspirants looking for work, the hierarchy of supervisors and managers, and the rackets of politicians, factory owners, the police, the mafia and the landlords and bureaucrats, trust, so to speak, had its boundaries. With such a fragmented labour force, the idea of workers striking seemed a bit like joke. Again and again I was told “There are no unions here, there is no unity.” There was not much space for manoeuvre, for doing anything out of line, for sticking your neck out, for screwing up that bare life. The message was clear: if you speak up, expect no one to come to your side. You’d be pulling a crazy. You would be without your day’s wages and, quite probably, you would have lost your job too. And you wouldn’t exactly be popular in the neighbourhood. This spells economic doom and the prospect seems terrifying. Better not to fuck up. Better to just get on with it. So long as things can go on…

But everyone knows, in one form or another, what they are up are against. They have a keen sense of how they are exploited, of the class dynamics at work in this exploitation, of how they have been failed by the constitution. Many of them are literate and words flow quickly between them where the occasions allow it. At some point, I asked a group of men sitting in the shade if things could ever change. For the most part this question brought a barrage of hopelessness, but one young man cautioned me “Don’t expect anything to change fast over here. You have to go slowly. Things could get out of hand quickly… and that could be disastrous. But if you find some sharp people and start talking with them, then you might be able to grow some stronger roots and one day a full tree will grow…”

By the evening, the worst of the heat had subsided and people of all ages were out on the narrow residential lanes and wider market streets, bantering with each other or inspecting the wares of the fishmongers and vegetable hawkers, trying to strike a bargain.

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The gap that divides
here and now
thought and action
politics and religion
you and I.

Dreaming wanderers
Fall endlessly
Into it.

A teaming abyss
of cybernetic suffocation,
guided paralysis and yoga retreats.
You are everything,
You are nothing.
You are not even the speck in between everything and nothing
Let the media junk digest your brain
Be the part
Of a cannibal whole
Into prolonged decay
Ejaculating in the illusion of your own glory

Machines groan and smash thunder.
Sweating workers lose fingers, hands, arms,
Minds and souls,
Free women move their bodies
And scream rage in the shadows of drunken beatings, gang rapes and honour killings.
Homosexuals, transgenders and queers
theorize their existential criminality.
Dogged adivasis dragged from their land, laughter and freshly plucked mangoes,
Their gods murdered,
Set adrift in dead concrete boats
Away from forests, mountains, streams
Beside the mines and factories
Where they languish without dreams
Still not of this time
Never to become of this time

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Notes on Muriel Combes’ ‘Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual’

My last post was a translation of a piece by Erik Bordeleau introducing the work of Bernard Aspe. Aspe draws critically on Simondon’s work, in particular his concepts of collective individuation and the transindividual. For Aspe, these concepts provide useful insights into the affective dimension of collective life, especially in the context of revolutionary political collectives. In my post prior to that I discussed the self and what I consider to be its problematic status as ‘real’, which nonetheless leaves me insisting on its important place in political struggle. More specifically, I attempted to articulate the inherent vulnerability of the self to capture by external forces, such as capitalism for example (e.g. as described in Isabelle Stengers’ Capitalist Sorcery). Simondon’s work seems to provide a productive framework for grasping the relation between the individual and the collective. Simondon calls this the transindividual; that which circulates through the collective, binding it together and characterising the quality of the collective individuation (and, therefore, what the collective becomes capable of). This seems like a productive line of thought for those engaged in such collectives and so in this post I will explore Simondon’s ideas in more depth via Muriel Combes’ treatment of his work in Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual.

Rather than beginning with ontology, Simondon focuses on ontogenesis: the process through which things come into being, or become. The process of becoming is referred to as individuation since it entails the becoming of an individual from something fundamentally prior to it, yet exceeding it. Simondon calls this field of origin the preindividual. The preindividual operates as a field of potentials full of tensions, something like the virtual in Deleuze. Individuation then entails a certain operation of drawing from the preindividual, the individual constituting itself from a particular folding of the tensions that characterise it. Combes notes that “The emergence of an individual within preindividual being should be conceived in terms of the resolution of a tension between potentials belonging to previously separated orders of magnitude” (p.4). A plant, for example can be understood as mediating – or resolving the tension – between the cosmic order of light and the mineral order of its elemental components, from which it also composes itself. Combes continues: ” … we may consider individuals as beings that come into existence as so many partial solutions to so many problems of incompatibility between separate levels of being.” (p.4)

Importantly, individuation does not only give rise to the individual but also its milieu, which exists on the same level of being as the individual and without which it cannot exist. The milieu exists not so much as the ‘environment’ in general but the specific relational field required for the continued existence of the individuating individual. Equally important is the notion that the pre-individual is in no way exhausted by the individual but rather always exceeds it, holding open further potential for different trajectories of becoming.

Individuation occurs through a process that Simondon calls transduction:

“… a physical, biological, mental, or social operation, through which an activity propagates from point to point within a domain, while grounding this propagation in the structuration of the domain, which is operated from place to place: each region of the constituted structure serves as a principle of constitution for the next region” (IG, 30; IL, 32).” (p.6)

That an individual results from transduction, implies that it is constituted through relations. Indeed, according to Simondon, the relation is real (it is not something that exists in the mind of a subject apprehending an object) and it is this reality of the relation that makes the individuated/individuating being real: “individuals consist in relations, and as a consequence, relation has the status of being and constitutes being.” (p.21)

As noted, individuation operates across domains, each with its own distinct type of milieu. While physical, biological or psychic individuation may all share a common mechanism of transduction from the pre-individual field, the individuations to which they give rise have their own distinctive qualities and require/produce their own distinctive milieus. But how can we account for these different domains?

“What differentiates two domains [...] lies in the individuation giving birth to the individuals populating each domain. What does this mean? It means that we must conceive of biological individuation not as something that adds determinations to an already physically individuated being, but as a slowing down of physical individuation, as a bifurcation that operates prior to the physical level proper.” (p.22)

In this sense individuation can be thought of as proceeding along multiple dimensions simultaneously, resulting in multiple, related yet distinct individuations, each associated with a different domain (or mode of existence).

“What divides being into domains is ultimately nothing other than the rhythm of becoming, sometimes speeding through stages, sometimes slowing to resume individuation at the very beginning.” (p.23)

It is this slowing down, then, that opens up the possibility of creating new trajectories of becoming since ‘the very beginning’ is to tap into the preindividual and its innumerable potentials.

While the physical domain serves as a paradigmatic case for thinking individuation and the pre-individual, radical differences exist across domains. For example, according to Combes, Simondon identified a critical distinction between physical beings and living beings in that whereas the former possess no interiority (their milieu is entirely external), the latter do (they have both an external and internal milieu). This internal milieu means that there is a flow of the pre-individual that permits a second and continuous individuation, which is the individuation of life itself.

“In addition to an exterior milieu, living beings possess an interior milieu, such that their existence appears as a perpetual putting into relation of the interior milieu and the exterior milieu, which relation the individual operates within itself.” (p.23)

But if all individuals are composed of other individuations/individuals, then how can one distinguish between an individual and the society to which it belongs? Simondon uses the example of the relation of an ant its colony to explore this. Is the ant an individual or an organ? For Simondon the answer lies in the capacity of the biological being to separate itself and produce new individuations beyond the group in which it originated. It is the existing-between groups that gives the individual its individuality.

We find ourselves, then, with an individuation that arises at the point where being must bridge two orders of magnitude. But it is first and foremost a relation that makes possible the emergence of a structure and the operation that produces it: transduction. But in terms of the pre-individual, becoming can follow numerous paths or directions, corresponding to different domains. This includes the individuation of physico-biological individuals and the individuation of societies or collectives of these individuals. With this conceptual framework now hopefully somewhat clearer, the question of collective individuation and the transindividual can be better grasped.

For Simondon psychic and collective individuation must be grasped as a unified, yet internally differentiated process, characterised by a reciprocity between the two. To grasp this, however, psychic individuation can be considered as internal to the individual, whereas collective individuation is external. However, the emergence and becoming of the psyche cannot be separated from the becoming of collectives that the individual participates in and constitutes. The way this functions, according to Simondon, is that psychic individuation, unlike biological individuation for example, does not give rise to a psychic individual. Rather, “psyche is made of successive individuations allowing for the being to resolve problematic states corresponding to the permanent putting into communication of what is larger than it with what is smaller than it” (IPC, 22; IL 31).” (p.27). In effect, there is “not properly speaking a psychic individuation but an individualisation of the living being giving birth to the somatic and the psychic. (IPC 134; IL 268)” (p.27). The psyche does not constitute a substance but rather contributes to the ongoing individuation of the biological individual. It effectively mediates between a ‘self’ (biological individual) and the outside world of the collective. Its mode of existence is that of a relation existing between these two levels and is “operated through affectivity and emotivity.”

The psyche is what allows the mediation between the physico-biological individual and the collective. However it never results in its own individuation (such as with the physico-biological individual); it never becomes its own constituted reality:


“it is not relation to self that comes first and makes the collective possi­ble, but relation to what, in the self, surpasses the individual, communicat­ing without mediation with a nonindividual share in the other. What gives consistency to relation to self, what gives consistency to the psychological dimension of the individual, is something in the individual surpassing the individual, turning it toward the collective; what is real in the psychological is transindividual.” (p.64)

Thus, while psyche is real, it cannot be understood as object-like – at not least in the common scientific sense. As Combes notes, the result of this is a distancing from traditional conceptions of psychology, which take consciousness and the unconscious as more or less the substances of the psyche and, indeed, individuality. Rather, for Simondon, individuality subsists subconsciously and is, therefore, first and foremost affective rather than ‘conscious’.

Affectivity essentially concerns the capacity of a body to affect and be affected by others. Unlike perception which can be relatively unproblematically experienced as individualised, affect always seems to exceed the individual and is experienced as more-than-individual, as something that must flow or circulate between individuals. And yet affectivity serves as:

“the relational layer constituting the center of individuality,  [it] arises in us as a liaison between the relation of the individual to itself and its relation to the world. As such, it is primarily in the form of a tension that this rela­tion to self is effectuated [...] Affectivity includes a relation between the individu­ated being and a share of not-yet-individuated preindividual reality that any individual carries with it: affective life, as “relation to self,” is thus a relation to what, in the self, is not of the order of the individual. Affective life thus shows us that we are not only individuals, that our being is not reducible to our individuated being.” 


“… if the problem of the individual as such is that of perceptual worlds, “the problem of the subject is that of the heterogeneity between perceptual worlds and the affective world, between the individual and the preindividual” (p.31).

According to Simondon, there are two ways that the subject can attempt to resolve this tension. One, he calls anxiety; the other, the transindividual. Anxiety results from the individual attempting “to resolve the experience of tension between pre-individual and indi­viduated within itself; an attempt to individuate all of the pre-individual at once, as if to live it fully.” Such a resolution, however, is impossible and can only result in failure. This failure results in anxiety; an affective state that undoes the self and leaves it that way, unable to activate new becomings.

It is the transindividual relation – the relation that constitutes a collective – that provides an alternative means of resolving the tension:

“the subject can truly resolve the tension characterizing it only within the collective; the subject is a being tensed toward the collective, and its reality is that of a “transitory way.” (p.32)

And yet, the transindividual is not given. It too must somehow become. Simondon locates this becoming of the transindividual, somewhat paradoxically, in solitude. This solitude must be sought out by the individual and is experienced as an ordeal. Indeed, for Simondon, solitude arises as a result of an ‘exceptional event’ that triggers a withdrawal from the inter-individual relations that characterise society, with its established positions, roles and functions. Typically, these inter-individual relations obstruct the subject’s ability to relate to the preindividual within it, thereby closing off the possibility of novel becomings. Withdrawal from these relations makes possible a certain relation with the preindividual such that solitude is also an engagement with a dense field of potential, of relations. Rather than seeking the resolution of the self in the preindividual, the ordeal of solitude involves tapping into the preindividual to surpass the individual through an external relation. It is in this sense that solitude is the milieu of the transindividual’s becoming. In this sense, solitude is at once disindividuating (because it loosens the hold of constituted individuality) and holds open the potential of a new or different individuation.

The transindividual could be said to occuppy a dual nature as both subjective and objective. The subjective transindividual is fundamentally linked to the becoming – or rather the individualisation of – the psyche. The psyche can only emerge in relation to the collective. However, according to Simondon, the collective exists within the individual as the preindividual, and constitutes a condition for the ability of the subject to relate to itself. Combes explains this thus:

“when we say that the collective is, in a sense, already in subjects, we are adopting the “energetic” point of view on the mode of potentials [from Tarde, signifying that novelty is produced by the unleashing of that which passes through the individual, modifying it too, rather than being created by (i.e. of) the individual] that may drive individuation of the social field; we should thus think of novelty in terms of collective-in-becoming or (be)coming-collective, and not, especially not, in terms of a preformed structural germ.” (p.76)

As a result of the transindividual, Simondon departs significantly from the prevailing psychology and sociology of his time, as well as the recurrent question of the relation between the individual (the object of psychology) and society (the object of sociology). While, on the one hand, Simondon’s version of the psyche is not an object, society – as constituted whole – leaves does not account for the Simondonian collective. The relation between the individual and society, then, emerges as a problem that must, to begin with, traverse the collective.

Although the individual clearly engages in sociality, this comes in two forms. The first, can be understood in terms of species characteristics – i.e. the responses of beings of a particular species to the challenges of survival and existence. These are biological, biosocial and inter-individual and do not leave space for new types of individuation. The second is transindividual and is concerned with relations that are not governed by species characteristics, the background of inter-individual relations that usually remain unquestioned. Rather it demands what, according to Simondon, is a ‘properly human’ individuation, that makes a new becoming possible. The human here is not defined in opposition to animal, but rather to that element of sociality in humans that can be reduced to species characteristics and which, in this sense, lacks novelty. Simondon’s argument is that this can only happen through the individuation of collectives.

The psyche then takes on a consistency within and through collectives. As the collective individuates, the individuals within the collective do too. While these are distinct individuations they are related by the transindividual, in the sense that the individuation of individuals is marked by the collective: they become, in a crucial sense, ‘group individuals’. At the same time, the individuation of the collective – i.e. its own ontogenesis – operates by “utilizing the potentials carried by preindidvidual reality contained within the individuated beings” (IPC, 211; IL, 313-314) (p.47). Rather than being the creation of the individuals that constitute it, the collective itself crystallises by drawing from the preindividual that exists in and exceeds the individuals that constitute its own preindividual field, the milieu that nourishes its own becoming. Thus the collective is said to exist physicos (as the preindividual, as nature), not as logikos (as posited relation in the mind).

Finally, the collective can be said to exist “to the extent that emotion is structured [...] across many subjects, as structuration of such emotion.” (p.51). This structuration of emotion is a concept I will return to in subsequent posts looking at some of the work of Erin Manning, who also draws on Simondon’s work, particularly in relation to the concept of affective attunement. I will also return to these notes on Simondon in relation to subsequent posts on Latour’s AIME.

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The Transindividual and the Demonic according to Bernard Aspe

This post is a translation of Erik Bordeleau’s ‘The Transindividual and the Demonic according to Bernard Aspe’i. Erik Bordelau is a postdoctoral researcher at the Free University of Brussels. We met at Gestes Spéculatifs (a colloquium with Stengers, Latour, Harraway and others) in France last year and discovered some strong political and philosophical resonances.  I posted a translation of his presentation from Gestes Spéculatifs entitled ‘Dreaming the dark: Speculative presence and the politics of contraction ‘ several months ago on this blog – worth checking out again if you haven’t seen it already. You can also find various articles by him on his page (here), including an English translation of an interview by him with Bernard Aspe (here). For me, the translation process has presented a welcome opportunity to be introduced to the work of Bernard Aspe as well as Simondon’s work beyond ‘On the mode of existence of technical objects’.

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The Transindividual and the Demonic according to Bernard Aspe

A revolutionary war against the modern metropolitan state can only be fought in hell.
Nick Land

What appeared as politics and imagined itself to be so, will reveal itself a religious movement
Søren Kierkegaard

Bernard Aspe, so far relatively unknown in the English speaking world, is one of the most interesting emerging figures in contemporary French political philosophy. Born in 1970 and agrégé in philosophy, he is the author of L’instant d’après: projectiles pour une politique à l’état naissantii(La Fabrique, 2006) and Les mots et les actesiii (Nous, 2011), and collaborated in various publications such as Alice, Persistances, Chimères et Multitudes. He is part of the group Collectif pour l’Intervention, to whom we owe Communisme: un manifeste (Nous, 2012), a proposal for the renewal of forms of struggle and revolutionary political organization which echos l’Appeliv(‘The Call’), an anonymous text of Tiqqunian inspiration from 2003 which has had a significant impact in militant milieus. More recently, he published a collection of articles called Horizon Inverse (Nous, 2013) and Simondon, politique du transindividuel (Dittmar 2013), which constitutes a reworked version of his doctoral thesis conducted under the direction of Jacques Rancière and defended in 2001 before a prestigious jury composed of Alain Badiou, Etienne Balibar and Isabelle Stengers.

The work of Bernard Aspe is characterised by the acuity of his theoretical positions and the remarkable coherence of the ensemble. It is founded on the idea of individuation and the transindividual (of Simondonian inspiration), but resists all solutions based on philosophical continuity and affirms the irreducibility of political subjectivations to speculative thought and ontology. Aspe elaborates this constitutive distinction through the works of Foucault, Badiou, Marx, Rancière and, most of all, on the spiritual side, Kierkegaard. One finds a first expression, no doubt too schematic but illuminating nonetheless, of his programme of thought in the first pages of his thesis:

“Ontology is not up to the task of providing a complete account of what is contained in the idea of a politics of truth. It is a dimension that the philosophical point of view, characterised by the real inclusion of the subjective in the effectiveness of thought, cannot confront directly. Once this dimension is forgotten, idealism appears, that is, a perspective capable of resolving the sole point of view of the thinking subject, to which what is known as ‘political philosophy’ has held. [There is] a necessity in order to think politics, to think the ‘presupposed real’ (Marx) in its concreteness and to envisage the acts that it requires.”v (emphasis added)

Aspe takes as a point of departure for his analysis the fact that philosophy and politics’ subjective modes of implication differ essentially from one another. In contrast with the pragmatist and speculative turn found in contemporary French thought under the influence of Bruno Latour and Isabelle Stengers, or else with the ‘monadological jubilation’ (which he doesn’t miss stigmatising amongst certain Deleuzians), Bernard Aspe’s approach is characterised by a certain sense of the tragic, employing himself in “marking the heterogeneity of saying and doing” and “grappling with [faire l’épreuve de] the gulf that separates them”vi. His thought is entirely strung upon this primordial question: what is a political act? Paraphrasing Wittgenstein, and in opposition to what he considers the “philosophical temptation” of the speculative, Aspe would say: “How is the path from saying to existing made: this does not tell itself, it shows itself; we cannot theorise this passage”vii.

This “mystic” tension – in the Wittgensteinian sense of that which arises and can be shown only on the indirect mode of example and affinity – animates political subjectivations and assures their inscription in the real. All the works of Aspe tend, thus, to demonstrate a spiritual component inherent to the modes of subjective implication which define collective militant engagement. Critically, his thinking portrays, with admirable clarity and confidence, the way in which collectives – those “groups in fusion” as Sartre called themviii – place their stakes intensely and irreversibly, risking themselves on the “infernal” threshold of what Aspe, following Kierkegaard, calls the ‘demonic’. Transindividual experience is what allows life to gain amplitude; the incandescent intimacy gives affective and effective consistency to collectives, and particularly those revolutionary collectives which are “sincerely ready to put the world on fire so that it shines brighter.” Nothing can a priori protect such groups from the danger of self-combustion in the intensity of a present with no return, as captured in the tragic Latin palindrome celebrated by Guy Debord: In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (we turn around in the night and are devoured by the fire).

Communist incorporation
For Aspe, Communism constitutes itself as a political option in as much as it operates as a “subjectivating scission” whose associated partiality is the guarantee of its effectiveness. “We must relearn to hate”
ix, he writes with great caution, in order to establish [instaurer] a dividing line that simultaneously binds the community and differentiates the adversaries.  Against the disarticulated subject of the economy, neutralised in larval scepticism and reduced to being “nothing other than one’s own trajectory“, the political subject makes the choice of incarnating a truth on the basis of which he is able to constitute himself collectively and “effectuate the work that connects thought and existence”x. In this, Aspe shows himself loyal to the Badiousian conception of political incorporation. For the latter, in effect, the authentic revolutionary subject is the one who realises this imaginary operation by means of which the truth of communism integrates itself with the individual and becomes a subjective “body of truth”. This militant conception of truth, modelled on the Paulinian profession of Christian faith that Badiou takes as a model, demands to be declared on a mode that is at once public and performative. Thus, for Aspe as for Badiou, political revolutionary subjects “litteralise discourses of truth by inscribing them in the world through their acts.”xi

Meanwhile, and differently from Badiou, Aspe envisages this decisional and rather voluntarist element of political subjectivation in close relation with what he calls, following Simondon, the transindividual experience. We can define the transindividual in a number of ways. Primarily, for Aspe, the transindividual is that from which flows the possibility of a full and accomplished life, a life that is worthwhile. It is in this sense that Aspe says: “there are not atomised individuals, but mutilated transindividual consistencies.”xii On a more technical level, the transindividual concerns the affective-emotional dimension of the process of collective individuation. In her influential work, Simondon, individu et collectivité: pour une philosophie du transindividuel, Muriel Combes – who not only shared her life with Aspe for several years but also a common basis of thought – defines the transindividual as the intimacy of the common thus:

“intimacy arises less from a private sphere than from an impersonal affective life, which is immediately in common [...] The transindividual ultimately refers just to that: an impersonal zone of subjects that is simultaneously a molecular or intimate dimension of the collective itself.xiii

In this impersonal and pre-individual affective dimension, emotion serves as a force of individuation. Emotion unifies and polarises diffuse affectivity; it converts affective plurality in a unity that operates a signification. In this sense, it is emotion which, in Simondon’s eyes, constitutes the veritable foyer of transindividual experience, in that it coincides with the effective structuration of a collective. Conversely, the collective is necessary for emotion to actualise itself and resolves itself with action: “For there to be a resonance of action and emotion, there must also be a superior individuation that encompasses them: this individuation is that of the collective.”xiv Surprisingly, Simondon calls this transductive relationship between action and emotion “spiritual unity.” And it is thus, as Aspe observes it, that for Simondon “spirituality and the instauration of a collective appear as two aspects of the same process,”xv transindividual emotion incorporating itself in the learning and transmission of gestures that fabricate forms of life.xvi

Incandescence or the good usage of the negativity-that-consumes
Aspe’s interest in the question of the transindividual is rooted in a profound concern for the challenges and obstacles that are faced by collectives trying to constitute themselves as political forces. The Simondonian frame is supple and dynamic; it sensitises us to the impersonal and pre-individual dimension of collective life and, moreover, enables us to collectively incorporate the unassignable affects of the various agents of
metamorphosis that transit between individuals. But, and this is an element that a number of commentators on Simondon have the tendency to pass over too quickly, it equally permits us to think the subjective necessity of closure and the production of a common interiority (Simondon speaks of “group of interiority”) in which the link between action and emotion operates effectively – “the effectiveness of a divide that assumes the existence of a real inseparation between a number of beings.”xvii

It is in Aspe’s affirmation of the reality of relations and the radical contingency of any political leap that the tragic inflection of his thought is most poignant, finding its fullest expression in his most recent work Horizon inverse. Allergic to the “subjectivities sunken in the comfort of multi-relational solipsism”xviii, Aspe revitalises the work of dialectics in order to better expose us to the “possibility of the abyss”. He asks, following René Char, how revolutionary politics can muster up poetry in its task of “expanding the blood of gestures”. It is unsurprising, then, that his dramatisation of political existence ends up in the domain of theology where the questions of freedom and radical evil are posed with the greatest intensity. It is here that, following Jacob Taubes, but also Marx, he interrogates the manner of linking forces of interiority (religion) and exteriority (politics). For as with Simondon, access to the presence of the transindividual relation is understood as being intimately linked to crossing the threshold of anxiety and solitude, to the point of identifying religion as the privileged domain of the transindividualxix.

If, therefore, the confrontation with the religious option is so crucial for Aspe, it is primarily because he is not content with thinking communist politics as a simple redistribution of riches. Rather, it is bound to the criteria of the transindividual, and thinks political life as the carrier of a promise of happiness. The process of politicisation is thus conceived as a leap of secularised faith. It is in this enlarged theological context that the question is posed, for Aspe, of what I have earlier called the incandescent intimacy of revolutionary political collectives; an intimacy which activates the potentially destructive force of their charge of negation and which, when they turn themselves away from the dramas of private interiority, drives them to give way to sensual immediacy and “the enthusiasm of revolting crowds”xx. Marx described this revolutionary process as a manner of turning the flame of religious fervour toward the outside in order to consume that which, though of this world, deserves to be destined to destruction. To this characterisation of the revolutionary force as a “spark of spirituality that the bourgeois world is unable to put out”, is opposed Kierkegaard’s analysis, for whom “the force of communism is visibly the ingredient of religiosity and even Christian religiosity”, while it presents itself in the opposite manner, which is to say, contained in a “demonic” mannerxxi. In the last instance, Kierkegaard sees in the revolutionary adventure an escape before the trial of solitude and interiority, a movement of revolt that misrecognises the religious nature of its being-against and betrays its latent hopelessness. Whichever way we look at it, the politicisation of the suffering of being-in-the-world – founded on the passion for totalisation and related to an ultimate political antagonism – cannot escape from the spiritual question of how to make the best use of the negativity-that-consumes.

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I return here to the question left in suspense: does something like a transindividual collective really exist? The structural inconsistency of collectives, no doubt, has psychological, or rather subjective, reasons. They condense in what we could call the desire for deception, the need to be disappointed and to assure that our initial mistrust had its reasons; in the anticipated nostalgia of what would have been important ‘despite everything’ in such and such experience (which is to say in that which is reduced to being nothing but ‘experience’); in the jouissance which finds itself in the fact of knowing too well the limits of some other people, and of being able to foresee their errors; in the jouissance, as well, of undoing what we had constructed ourselves; in brief, in what Kierkegaard called “the demonic”, the anxiety one faces before the good. What the demonic refuses, is what it foresees as being able to give it a good that is too great, something that would oblige it to stretch its limits, to live more fully, be more full of life, and, for the same reason, be more exposed. We have been educated to want to always return to familiar structures that have already been explored, already known (even if of a knowledge that is unknown). But, the return to structures is the return to the already individuated, to the ‘purely’ individuated – and as Simondon says, the only ‘pure’ individual is death.

Anxiety in the face of ‘the good’ is, thus, nothing more than the anxiety in the face of freedom. “The demonic does not enclose itself with something. It encloses itself alone. And it is here, in the depths of existence, that non-freedom makes itself prisoner.” (The concept of anxiety and other texts, Paris Gallimard, “TEL”, 1990). The demonic wants to redouble non-freedom, as if to guarantee that no escape will be possible – that one wouldn’t even consider hoping for it. If freedom is what expands, the demonic is what, in us, desires the return to narrowness and the locking down in this narrowness. This is not to be confused with folding back on individuality: it can just as well experiment – and it is generally the case – in the very centre of collectives, so long as the transindividual relation no longer transits or transits all too rarely.

The challenge is on for revolutionary collectives – which is to say those that would be prepared to risk themselves to take up anew that word ‘revolution’ so often destined for disuse – to find the way to struggle against the demonic.”xxii

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i A shortened version of this text was published in Spirale, N.54, Montréal, printemps 2014.

ii Translates as: The instant After: projectiles for a politics of the nascent state.

iii Translates as: The Words and The Acts.

iv The text is available at the following address:

v Bernard Aspe, Simondon, politique du transindividuel, Éditions Dittmar, Paris, 2013, p.25.

vi Bernard Aspe, Les mots et les actes, Nous, Caen, 2012, p.17. Or on a more technical mode: “It has been a question of considering speculative thought as that with which a distance must be marked in order to adequately carve out the dimension of the act.” p.181

vii Érik Bordeleau, « Le temps de l’œuvre, le temps de l’acte : entretien avec Bernard Aspe », Inflexions N.5, available at:

viii “Struggle requires new agents to arise with hitherto unknown powers. In Sartrian logic, it can only be a matter of individual acquiring a different status: Sartre calls those actors capable of tearing men out of the hell of inertia and to hold, if not to exorcise, evil, groups in fusion.” Bertrand St-Sernin “Pouvoir et figures du mal chez Sartre”, 1983, available at:

ix Bernard Aspe, « Notre part de violence », Grumeaux, N.3, Nous, Caen, Novembre 2012.

x Les mots et les actes, p.76, 44.

xi Bernard Aspe, “Notre part de violence”. “What have the contemporary thinkers of the revolutionary event discovered really? They discovered, first of all, a new concept of truth: one that does not refer to the necessity, for a subject, to accomplish in the real what has been thought. What has been thought is true only on the condition that it passes from the order of thought to the real.” Bernard Aspe, Horizon inverse, Caen, 2013, p.28.

xii Bernard Aspe, Horizon inverse, p.37.

xiii Muriel Combes, Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual translated with preface and afterword by Thomas LaMarre, MIT, Massachusetts, 2013, p.51. The French original Simondon, individu et collectivité : pour une philosophie du transinsdividuel, PUF, Paris, 1999, is available at:

xiv Gilbert Simondon, L’individuation psychique et collective, Aubier, Paris, 2007, p.108.

xv Simondon, politique du transindividuel, p.208.

xvi “All forms of life define themselves through the ensemble of gestures, corporeal or incorporeal, that animate them. In this sense, all forms of life are transindividual; they are, so to say, the mark of transindividuality in each of us.” Bernard Aspe, Horizon inverse, Nous, Caen, 2013, p.29

xvii Bernard Aspe,Horizon inverse, p.20.

xviii Bernard Aspe, Horizon inverse, p.55. “The spontaneous ontology of the contemporary human, in the most modern societies, is an ontology of singularities. We accept to mourn the old ‘Me’, but on condition that there is nothing else besides trajectories, comparable to monads that would consist of nothing but their unfolded selves, with no internality.”

xix “The true transindividual relation only begins beyond solitude; it is constituted by the individual who has put him/herself in question, and not by the convergent sum of inter-individual relations” Gilbert Simondon, L’individuation psychique et collective, p. 154-155.

xx Bernard Aspe, Horizon inverse, p. 28.

xxi Bernard Aspe, Horizon inverse, p.26, 25.

xxii Bernard Aspe, « Notre part de violence ».

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