Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual
An accessible yet rigorous introduction to the influential French philosopher Gilbert Simondon's philosophy of individuation.
Gilbert Simondon (1924–1989), one of the most influential contemporary French philosophers, published only three works: L'individu et sa genèse physico-biologique (The individual and its physico-biological genesis, 1964) and L'individuation psychique et collective (Psychic and collective individuation, 1989), both drawn from his doctoral thesis, and Du mode d'existence des objets techniques (On the mode of existence of technical objects, 1958). It is this last work that brought Simondon into the public eye; as a consequence, he has been considered a “thinker of technics” and cited often in pedagogical reports on teaching technology. Yet Simondon was a philosopher whose ambitions lay in an in-depth renewal of ontology as a process of individuation—that is, how individuals come into being, persist, and transform. In this accessible yet rigorous introduction to Simondon's work, Muriel Combes helps to bridge the gap between Simondon's account of technics and his philosophy of individuation.
Some thinkers have found inspiration in Simondon's philosophy of individuation, notably Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. Combes's account, first published in French in 1999, is one of the only studies of Simondon to appear in English. Combes breaks new ground, exploring an ethics and politics adequate to Simondon's hypothesis of preindividual being, considering through the lens of transindividual philosophy what form a nonservile relation to technology might take today. Her book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Simondon's work.
Hardcover$35.00 S | £27.00 ISBN: 9780262018180 144 pp. | 9 in x 6 in
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. Muriel Combes combines a rare talent for theoretical clarification with a sharp sense for social relevance. Her lucid presentation of key concepts such as 'individuation,' 'dephasing,' and 'transduction' goes well beyond an introduction to Simondon's philosophy. Combes constructs an innovative form of multiplied materialism.
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
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. It shows in what sense we can be called 'subjects' of a collective in becoming that participates in a biotechnical critique of labor. A great Little Big Book, indeed!
Professor of Contemporary French Philosophy, CRMEP-Kingston University, London; author of Capital Times and The Signature of the World: What is Deleuze and Guattari's Philosophy?
Tom LaMarre's fluid and faithful translation makes this tremendously important book available, at long last, to an English-reading audience. Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual remains simply the best introduction to Simondon in either English or French. 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.
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.
University of Brussels, Belgium