On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects

La traduction anglaise du Mode d'existence est disponible chez Univocal depuis le 10 avril 2017, dans une très belle édition digne de cet éditeur (Drew Burk et Jason Wagner). Nous sommes heureux de saluer l'excellence de la traduction de Cécile Malaspina et John Rogove. Merci à Irlande Saurin et à Dominique Simondon pour l'efficacité de leur participation.

 

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                           Extrait de l'Introduction:

   This study is motivated by our desire to raise awareness of the meaning of technical

objects. Culture has constituted itself as a defense system against technics1; yet this

defense presents itself as a defense of man, and presumes that technical objects

do not contain a human reality within them. We would like to show that culture

ignores a human reality within technical reality and that, in order to fully play

its role, culture must incorporate technical beings in the form of knowledge and

in the form of a sense of values. Awareness of the modes of existence of technical

objects must be brought about through philosophical thought, which must fulfill a

duty through this work analogous to the one it fulfilled for the abolition of slavery

and the affirmation of the value of the human person.

   The opposition drawn between culture and technics, between man and machine,

is false and has no foundation; it is merely a sign of ignorance or resentment.

Behind a facile humanism, it masks a reality rich in human efforts and natural

forces, and which constitutes a world of technical objects as mediators between

man and nature.

   Culture behaves toward the technical object as man toward a stranger, when he

allows himself to be carried away by primitive xenophobia. Misoneism directed

against machines is not so much a hatred of novelty as it is a rejection of a strange

or foreign reality. However, this strange or foreign being is still human, and a complete

culture is one which enables us to discover the foreign or strange as human.

Furthermore, the machine is the stranger; it is the stranger inside which something

human is locked up, misunderstood, materialized, enslaved, and yet which nevertheless

remains human all the same. The most powerful cause of alienation in the

contemporary world resides in this misunderstanding of the machine, which is not

an alienation caused by the machine, but by the non-knowledge of its nature and

its essence, by way of its absence from the world of significations, and its omission

from the table of values and concepts that make up culture.

     Culture is unbalanced because it recognizes certain objects, like the aesthetic

object, granting them citizenship in the world of significations, while it banishes

other objects (in particular technical objects) into a structureless world of things

that have no signification but only a use, a utility function. Confronted by such

a defensive rejection, pronounced by a partial and biased culture, men who have

knowledge of technical objects and who appreciate their signification seek to justify

their judgment by granting the technical object the only status currently valued

besides that of the aesthetic object, namely that of the sacred object. This, then,

gives rise to an intemperate technicism which is nothing other than idolatry of the

machine and which, through this idolatry, by means of identification, leads to a

technocratic aspiration to unconditional power. The desire for power consecrates

the machine as a means of supremacy, it makes of it a modern philter. The man

who wants to dominate his peers calls the android machine into being. He thus

abdicates before it and delegates his humanity to it. He seeks to construct a thinking

machine, dreams of being able to build a volition machine, a living machine,

in order to retreat behind it without anxiety, freed of all danger, exempt from all

feelings of weakness, and triumphant through the mediation of what he invented.

In this case, however, the machine, after having become, according to the imagination,

the robot, this duplicate of man devoid of interiority, quite evidently and

inevitably represents a purely mythical and imaginary being. (...)

 

 

 

 

                                     Table of Contents

Note.......................................................................................................................................ix

Prospectus.............................................................................................................................xv

 

                      On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects

Introduction..........................................................................................................................15

 

                                       Part I

                    Genesis and Evolution of Technical Objects

Chapter One

Genesis of the technical object: the process of concretization

I. The abstract technical object and the concrete technical object.......................................25

II. Conditions of technical evolution...................................................................................29

III. The rhythm of technical progress; continuous and

minor improvements; discontinuous and major improvements...........................................40

IV. Absolute origins of the technical lineage.......................................................................44

Chapter Two

Evolution of technical reality; element, individual, ensemble

I. Hypertely and self-conditioning in technical evolution....................................................53

II. Technical invention:

ground and form in the living and in inventive thought......................................................59

III. Technical individualization............................................................................................62

IV. Evolutionary succession and preservation of technicity

law of relaxation...................................................................................................................67

V. Technicity and evolution of technics:

technicity as instrument of technical evolution....................................................................71

Illustrations...........................................................................................................................83

 

                                        Part II

                       Man and the Technical Object

Chapter One

The two fundamental modes of relation between man and the technical given

I. Social majority and minority of technics........................................................................103

II. Technics learned by the child and technics thought by the adult.................................106

III. The common nature of minor technics and major technics.

The signification of encyclopedism...........................................................................111

IV. Necessity of a synthesis between the major and

minor modes of access to technics in the domain of education.........................................121

Chapter Two

The regulative function of culture in the relation

between man and the world of technical objects. Current problems

I. The different modalities of the notion of progress.........................................................129

II. Critique of the relation between man and the technical object as it is presented by

the notion of progress arising from thermodynamics and energetics.

Recourse to Information Theory.........................................................................................135

III. Limits of the technological notion of information in order to account

for the relation between man and the technical object. The margin of

indeterminacy in technical individuals. Automatism..........................................................147

IV. Philosophical thought must carry out the integration of technical reality into

universal culture, by founding a technology........................................................................159

 

                                        Part III

                         The Essence of Technicity

Chapter One

The genesis of technicity

I. The notion of a phase applied to coming-into-being:

technicity as a phase............................................................................................................173

II. The phase-shift from the primitive magical unity...........................................................176

III. The divergence of technical thought and of religious thought......................................183

Chapter Two

Relations between technical thought and other species of thought

I. Technical thought and aesthetic thought...........................................................................191

II. Technical thought, theoretical thought, practical thought................................................211

Chapter Three

Technical and philosophical thought

Conclusion............................................................................................................................247

 

Glossary of Technical Terms.................................................................................................263

Bibliography..........................................................................................................................269

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