|Born||2 October 1924|
|Died||7 February 1989 (aged 64)|
|Alma mater||University of Paris|
|Information, communication, philosophy of nature, philosophy of science, epistemology, technology|
|Individuation, "transduction", "concrétisation", "transindividuel", "préindividuel"|
Gilbert Simondon (French: [simɔ̃dɔ̃]; 2 October 1924 – 7 February 1989) was a French philosopher best known for his theory of individuation, a major source of inspiration for Gilles Deleuze, Bruno Latour and Bernard Stiegler.
Born in Saint-Étienne, Simondon was a student of philosopher of science Georges Canguilhem, philosopher Martial Guéroult, and phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty. He studied at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and the Sorbonne. He defended his doctoral dissertations in 1958 at the University of Paris. His main thesis, L'individuation à la lumière des notions de Forme et d'Information (Individuation in the light of the notions of Form and Information), was published in two parts, the first in 1964 under the title L'individu et sa génèse physico-biologique (Individuation and its physical-biological genesis) at the Presses Universitaires de France, while it is only in 1989 that Aubier published the second part, L'individuation psychique et collective (Psychic and collective individuation). While his main thesis, which laid the foundations of his thinking, was not widely read until it was commented upon by Gilles Deleuze and, more recently, Bruno Latour and Bernard Stiegler, his complementary thesis, Du mode d'existence des objets techniques (On the mode of existence of technical objects) was published by Aubier immediately after being completed (in 1958) and had an instant impact on a wide audience. It was only in 2005 that Jérôme Millon published a complete edition of the main thesis.
In L'individuation psychique et collective, Simondon developed a theory of individual and collective individuation, in which the individual subject is considered as an effect of individuation, rather than as a cause. Thus the individual atom is replaced by the never-ending process of individuation. Simondon also conceived of "pre-individual fields" as the resources making individuation itself possible. Individuation is an always incomplete process, always leaving a "pre-individual" left-over, itself making possible future individuations. Furthermore, psychic individuation always creates both an individual and a collective subject, which individuate themselves together. Simondon criticized Norbert Wiener's theory of cybernetics, arguing that "Right from the start, Cybernetics has accepted what all theory of technology must refuse: a classification of technological objects conducted by means of established criteria and following genera and species." Simondon aimed to overcome the shortcomings of cybernetics by developing a "general phenomenology" of machines.
Simondon's theory of individuation through transduction in a metastable environment was an important influence on the thought of Gilles Deleuze, whose Différence et répétition (1968), Logique du sens (1969) and L'île déserte (2002) make explicit reference to Simondon's work. Gilbert Simondon: une pensée de l'individuation et de la technique (1994), the proceedings of the first conference devoted to Simondon's work, further charts his influence on such thinkers as François Laruelle, Gilles Châtelet, Anne Fagot-Largeau, Yves Deforge, René Thom, and Bernard Stiegler (the latter having placed Simondon's theory of individuation at the very heart of his ongoing and multi-volume philosophical project). Another contributor to Gilbert Simondon: une pensée de l'individuation et de la technique, Simondon's friend John Hart, was the instigator of the very first translation—from French into English c.1980—of Simondon's work (this at University of Western Ontario in Canada where Hart had founded both a Department of Computer Science and a Simondon-inspired network: the ATN, or Audio Tactile Network in 1964). Currently, Simondon can be seen as a major influence on the work of such scholars as Paolo Virno, Jean-Hugues Barthélémy, Thierry Bardini, Luciana Parisi, Brian Massumi, Adrian Mackenzie, Muriel Combes, Carl Mitcham, Andrew Feenberg, Yuk Hui, Isabelle Stengers, Thomas LaMarre, Bruno Latour and Anne Sauvagnargues.
François Lagarde and Pascal Chabot have made a movie on Simondon: Simondon of the Desert (english translation) with Anne Fagot-Largeault, Arne De Boever, Dominique Lecourt, Gilbert Hottois, Giovanni Carrozzini, Jean-Hugues Barthélémy, Jean Clottes, and music by Jean-Luc Guillonet.