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OntheModeofExistenceofTechnicalofTechnicalObjects
by

GilbertSimondon
THIRDPART THEESSENCEOFTECHNICITY ChapterI THEGENESISOFTECHNICITY ITHENOTIONOFPHASEAPPLIEDTOBECOMING:TECHNICITYASPHASE Thisstudypostulatesthattechnicityisoneofthetwofundamentalphasesofthe modeofexistenceoftheensembleconstitutedbymanandtheworld.Byphase,wedonot meanonetemporalmomentreplacedbyanother,butanaspectthatresultsfromadivision ofbeingandthatisopposedtoanotheraspect.Thissenseofthewordphaseisinspiredby thenotionofphaserelationinphysics;onecannotconceiveofaphaseexceptinrelationto anotherortoseveralotherphases;inasystemofphasesthereisarelationofequilibrium andofreciprocaltensions;thepresentsystemofallthephasestakentogetheristhe completereality,noteachphaseitselfsinceaphaseisaphaseonlyinrelationtoothers,and itisdistinguishedfromtheminamannerthatistotallyindependentofnotionsofgenusand species.Finally,theexistenceofapluralityofphasesdefinestherealityofaneutralcentre ofequilibriuminrelationtowhichthephaseshiftexists.Thisschemaisverydifferentfrom thedialecticalschema,becauseitimpliesneithernecessarysuccessionnortheintervention

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ofnegativityasengineofprogress;moreover,intheschemaofphases,theoppositionexists onlyintheparticularcaseofabiphasestructure. Theadoptionofsuchaschemafoundedonthenotionofphaseisdestinedtoputin

playaprincipleaccordingtowhichthetemporaldevelopmentofalivingrealityproceedsby divisionfromaninitialactivecentreandthenbyregroupingaftertheadvanceofeach separaterealityresultingfromthedivision.Eachseparaterealityisasymboloftheother,just asonephaseisasymboloftheotherorofothers;nophase,asphase,isinequilibriumin relationtoitself,nordoesithavecompletetruthorreality:everyphaseispartial,abstract, andunbalanced;onlythesystemofphasesisinequilibriumatitsneutralpoint;itstruthand itsrealityarethisneutralpoint,theprocessionandconversioninrelationtothisneutral point. Wesupposethattechnicityresultsfromaphaseshiftofacentral,original,and

uniquemodeofbeingintheworld,themagicalmode;thephasethatbalancestechnicityis thereligiousmodeofbeing.Aestheticthinkingemergesattheneutralpointbetween technicsandreligion,atthemomentofthedivisionofprimitivemagicalunity:thisisnota phasebut,rather,apermanentreminderoftheruptureoftheunityofthemagicalmodeof beingandasearchforafutureunity. Eachphaseinturndividesintoatheoreticalmodeandapracticalmode;thereisthus

apracticalmodeoftechnicsandapracticalmodeofreligion,aswellasatheoreticalmodeof technicsandatheoreticalmodeofreligion.

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Justasthedistancebetweentechnicsandreligiongeneratesaestheticthinking,so

thedistancebetweenthetwotheoreticalmodes(thetechnicalandthereligious)generates scientificknowledgeasmediationbetweentechnicsandreligion.Thedistancebetweenthe practicaltechnicalmodeandthepracticalreligiousmodegeneratesethicalthinking. Aestheticthinkingisthereforeamediationbetweentechnicsandreligionthatismore primitivethanscienceandethics,forthebirthofscienceandethicsrequiresapriordivision withintechnicsandreligionbetweenthetheoreticalmodeandthepracticalmode.Fromthis resultsthefactthataestheticthinkingistrulysituatedattheneutralpoint,extendingthe existenceofmagic,whereasscienceontheonehandandethicsontheotherareinconflict inrelationtotheneutralpoint,sincethereisthesamedistancebetweenthemasthereis betweenthetheoreticalmodeandthepracticalmodeintechnicsandinreligion.Ifscience andethicscouldhaveconvergedandunited,theywouldhavecoincidedintheneutralaxisof thisgeneticsystem,therebyprovidingasecondanalogueofmagicalunity,overandabove theincompleteaestheticthinkingthatisitsfirstanalogue,incompletebecauseitallowsthe phaseshiftbetweentechnicsandreligiontosubsist.Thissecondanaloguewouldbe complete;itwouldreplaceatoncemagicandaesthetics;butperhapsitisonlyasimple tendencyplayinganormativerole,sincenothingprovesthatthedistancebetweenthe theoreticalmodeandthepracticalmodecanbecompletelybridged. Inordertoindicatethetruenatureoftechnicalobjects,itisthereforenecessaryto

resorttoastudyoftheentiregenesisoftherelationsbetweenmanandtheworld;the technicityofobjectswouldthenseemtobeoneofthetwophasesoftherelationofmanto theworldengenderedbythedivisionofprimitivemagicalunity.Shouldtechnicitythenbe

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consideredasasimplemomentinagenesis?Yes,inacertainsense:thereiscertainly somethingtransitoryintechnicity,whichitselfbecomesdividedintotheoryandpracticeand participatesinthesubsequentgenesisoftheoreticalthinkingandofpracticalthinking.But,in anothersense,thereissomethingdefinitiveintheoppositionoftechnicitytoreligiosity, becausemansprimitivewayofbeingintheworld(magic)canbethoughttoprovide inexhaustiblyanindefinitenumberofsuccessivecontributionsthatcanbedividedintoa technicalphaseandareligiousphase;inthismanner,althougheffectivelythereis successioningenesis,thesuccessivestagesofthedifferentgenesesaresimultaneouswithin culture,andtherearerelationsandinteractionsnotonlybetweensimultaneousphasesbut alsobetweensuccessivestages;hence,technicscanencounternotonlyreligionand aestheticthinkingbutalsoscienceandethics.Now,ifoneadoptsthegeneticpostulate,one noticesthatascienceoranethicscanneverencounterareligionoratechnicsonatruly commonground,sincethemodesofthinkingthataredifferentindegree(forexamplea scienceandatechnique)andthatexistatthesametimedonotconstituteasinglegenetic lineage,donotissuefromthesamesurgeoftheprimitivemagicaluniverse.Trueand balancedrelationsonlyexistbetweenphasesofthesamelevel(forexampleatechnical ensembleandareligion)orbetweensuccessivedegreesofgenesisthatarepartofthesame lineage(forexamplebetweenthestageoftechnicsandofreligionsintheseventeenth centuryandthecontemporarystageofscienceandofethics).Truerelationsexistonlyina geneticensemblebalancedaroundaneutralpoint,envisagedinitstotality. Thisispreciselythegoaltobereached:reflexivethinkinghasamissiontoredressand

refinethesuccessivewavesofgenesisbywhichtheprimitiveunityoftherelationofmanto

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theworldbecomesdividedandcomestosustainscienceandethicsthroughtechnicsand religion,betweenwhichaestheticthinkingdevelops.Inthesesuccessivedivisions,primitive unitywouldbelostifscienceandethicswerenotabletocometogetherattheendofthe genesis;philosophicalthinkingisinsertedbetweentheoreticalthinkingandpractical thinking,intheextensionofaestheticthinkingandoftheoriginalmagicalunity. Now,tomakepossibletheunityofscientificknowledgeandofethicsinphilosophical

thinking,thesourcesofscienceandofethicshavetobeofthesamedegree, contemporaneousonewiththeother,andmusthavearrivedatthesamepointofgenetic development.Thegenesisoftechnicsandofreligionconditionsthatofscienceandof ethics.Philosophyisitsowncondition,forassoonasreflexivethinkingbegins,ithasthe powertoperfectwhicheverofthegenesesthathasnotbeenentirelyachieved,bybecoming awareofthesenseofthegeneticprocessitself.So,tobeabletoposethephilosophical problemoftherelationsbetweenknowledgeandethicsinaprofoundmanner,itwouldbe necessaryfirstofalltocompletethegenesisoftechnicsandthegenesisofreligiousthinking, orattheveryleast(forthistaskwouldbeinfinite)toknowtherealmeaningofthesetwo geneses. II.THEPHASESHIFTOFPRIMITIVEMAGICALUNITY Inordertounderstandthetruerelationoftechnicstootherfunctionsofhuman thinking,onemuststartwiththeprimitivemagicalunityoftherelationsofmanandworld; throughthisexaminationitispossibletounderstandwhyphilosophicalthinkingshould

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completetheintegrationoftechnicalrealityintoculture,whichisonlypossiblebyfreeingthe senseofthegenesisoftechnicsbythefoundingofatechnology;so,thedisparitybetween technicsandreligionsubsides,harmfulasitistotheintendedreflexivesynthesisof knowledgeandethics.Philosophymustfoundtechnology,whichistheecumenismof technics,becauseifethicsandthesciencesaretomeetupinreflection,aunityoftechnics andaunityofreligiousthinkingneedstoprecedethedivisionofeachoftheseformsof thinkingintoatheoreticalmodeandapracticalmode. Thegenesisofaparticularphasecanbedescribedinitself;butitcannotbereally

knowninitssenseand,consequently,understoodinitspostulationofunity,unlessitis repositionedinthetotalityofitsgenesis,asaphaseinrelationtootherphases.Thisiswhyin tryingtounderstandtechnicityitisnotenoughtostartwithconstitutedtechnicalobjects; objectsemergeatacertainmoment,buttechnicityprecedesandsurpassesthem;technical objectsresultfromanobjectificationoftechnicity;theyareproducedbyit,yettechnicityis notexhaustedintheseobjectsandisnotentirelycontainedinthem. Ifweeliminatetheideaofadialecticalrelationbetweensuccessivestagesofthe

relationbetweenmanandtheworld,whatcouldbetheengineofsuccessivedivisionsduring whichtechnicityemerges?ItispossibletoappealtothetheoryofForms,andtogeneralize therelationthatitestablishesbetweenfigureandground.Gestalttheorydrawsitsbasic principlefromthehylemorphicschemaofancientphilosophy,appliedtomodern considerationsofphysicalmorphogenesis:thestructuringofasystemwoulddependon spontaneousmodificationstendingtowardastablestateofequilibrium.Inreality,itseems

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thatadistinctionshouldbemadebetweenastableequilibriumandametastable equilibrium.Theemergenceofthedistinctionbetweenfigureandgroundresultsfroma stateoftension,fromtheincompatibilityofthesysteminrelationtoitself,fromwhatone couldcalltheoversaturationofthesystem.Butthestructuringisnotthediscoveryofthe lowestlevelofequilibrium:stableequilibrium,inwhichallpotentialwouldbeactualized, wouldcorrespondtothedeathofanypossibilityoffurthertransformation;so,livingsystems, preciselythosethatmanifestthegreatestorganizationalspontaneity,aresystemsof metastableequilibrium.Thediscoveryofastructureisatleastaprovisionalresolutionof incompatibilities,butitisnotthedestructionofpotentials;thesystemcontinuestoliveand toevolve;itisnotdegradedbytheemergenceofstructure;itremainstenseandcapableof beingmodified. Ifoneagreestoacceptthiscorrectiveandtoreplacethenotionofstabilitywiththat

ofmetastability,thenitseemsthattheTheoryofFormsmayaccountforfundamentalstages intheevolutionoftherelationbetweenmanandtheworld. Primitivemagicalunityisthevitalrelationallinkbetweenmanandtheworld,defining

auniverseatoncesubjectiveandobjectivepriortoanydistinctionbetweenobjectand subject,andconsequentlyalsopriortoanyemergenceoftheseparateobject.Theprimitive modeoftherelationofmantotheworldcanbethoughtofasnotonlypriortothe objectificationoftheworld,buteventothesegregationofobjectiveunitiesinthefieldthat willbecometheobjectivefield.Manfindsthatheisboundtoauniversethatisexperienced asamilieu.Theemergenceoftheobjectcanonlyhappenthroughtheisolationand

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fragmentationofthemediationbetweenmanandtheworld;andaccordingtotheprinciple proposed,thisobjectificationofamediationmusthaveascorrelative,inrelationtothe primitiveneutralcentre,thesubjectificationofmediation.Themediationbetweenmanand theworldbecomesobjectifiedasatechnicalobject,inthesamewayasitissubjectifiedasa religiousmediator;butthisobjectificationandthissubjectification,contraryand complementary,areprecededbyaprimarystageoftherelationtotheworld,themagical stage,inwhichthemediationisstillneithersubjectivenorobjective,neitherfragmentednor universalized,andisthesimplestandmostfundamentalstructuringofthemilieuofaliving being:thebirthofanetworkofprivilegedpointsofexchangebetweenthebeingandthe milieu. Themagicaluniverseisalreadystructured,butaccordingtoamodethatispriorto

thesegregationofobjectandsubject;thisprimitivemodeofstructuringistheonethat distinguishesfigurefromgroundbymarkingkeypointsintheuniverse.Iftheuniversewere deprivedofeverystructure,therelationbetweenthelivingbeinganditsmilieucouldoccur inacontinuoustimeandacontinuousspace,withoutprivilegedmomentorplace.Infact, precedingthesegregationofunities,areticulationofspaceandtimeisestablishedthat highlightsprivilegedplacesandmoments,asifallofman'spowertoactandallthecapacity oftheworldtoinfluencemanwereconcentratedintheseplacesandinthesemoments. Theseplacesandthesemomentspossess,concentrate,andexpresstheforcescontainedin thegroundrealitythatsupportsthem.Thesesitesandthesemomentsarenotseparate realities;theydrawtheirforcefromthegroundthattheydominate;buttheylocalizeand focalizetheattitudeofthelivingvisvisitsmilieu.

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Accordingtothisgeneralgenetichypothesis,wesupposethattheprimitivemodeof

existenceofmanintheworldcorrespondstoaprimitiveunion,priortoanydivision,of subjectivityandobjectivity.Theprimarystructuring,correspondingtotheemergenceofa figureandagroundinthismodeofexistence,iswhatgivesbirthtothemagicaluniverse.The magicaluniverseisstructuredaccordingtothemostprimitiveandmostfecundof organizations:thatofthereticulationoftheworldintoprivilegedplacesandprivileged moments.Aprivilegedplace,aplacethathasapower,isonewhichdrawsintoitselfallthe forceandefficacyofthedomainitdelimits;itsummarizesandcontainstheforceofa compactmassofreality;itsummarizesandgovernsit,asanhighlandgovernsanddominates alowland;theelevatedpeakisthelordofthemountain,1justasthemostimpenetrablepart ofthewoodiswhereallitsrealityresides.Themagicalworldisinthiswaymadeofa networkofplacesandthingsthathaveapowerandareboundtootherthingsandother placesthatalsohaveapower.Suchapath,suchanenclosure,suchatemenoscontainsall theforceoftheland,andisthekeypointoftherealityandofthespontaneityofthings,as wellasoftheiraccessibility. Insuchanetworkofkeypoints,ofhighplaces,thereisaprimitiveindistinction

regardinghumanrealityandtherealityoftheobjectiveworld.Thesekeypointsarerealand objective,butinthemthehumanbeingisimmediatelyunitedwiththeworld,bothtobe influencedbyitandtoactuponit;theyareplacesofcontactandofmixed,mutualreality, placesofexchangeandofcommunicationbecausetheyformaknotbetweenbothrealities.

Notmetaphoricallybutreally:thegeologicalfoldingandtheeruptionthatbuiltthewholemassifareoriented towardthepeak.Thepromontoryisthefirmestpartofthechainerodedbythesea.

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Yet,magicalthoughtisthefirst,becauseitcorrespondstothesimplest,most

concrete,mostimmense,andmostsupplestructuring:thatofreticulation.Inthetotality constitutedbymanandtheworldthereemergesastheprimarystructureanetworkof privilegedsitesthatmakepossibletheinsertionofhumaneffort,andthroughwhich exchangesbetweenmanandtheworldarecarriedout.Eachsingularsiteconcentrates withinitselfthecapacitytohavecontroloveraportionoftheworldthatitspecifically representsandwhoserealityitconveysincommunicationwithman.Thesesingularsites couldbecalledkeypointscontrollingthemanworldrelationshipinareversibleway,forthe worldinfluencesmanjustasmaninfluencestheworld.Thesummitsofmountainsorcertain narrowpassesareinthiswaynaturallymagical,becausetheygovernaregion.Theheartof theforestandthecentreofaplainarenotjustgeographicalrealitiesmetaphoricallyor geometricallydesignated:theyarerealitiesthatconcentratenaturalpowersastheyfocalize humaneffort:theyarefiguralstructuresinrelationtothemassethatsupportsthemandthat constitutestheirground. Ingeneral,welooktosuperstitionwhenwewanttofindanexampleoftheschemas

ofmagicalthinkingintheactualconditionsoflife.Infact,superstitionsarefadedvestigesof magicalthinkingand,inasearchforitsrealessence,theycanonlybemisleading.Onthe otherhand,tounderstandthemeaningofmagicalthinking,itisadvisabletoresorttohigh, nobleandsacredformsofthoughtthatrequireaclearandinsightfuleffort.That,for example,istheaffective,representative,andvoluntarysubstratumthatsupportsanascent oranexploration.Perhapsthedesireforconquestandthesenseofcompetitionunderliethe

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motivationthatmakesitpossibletomovefromeverydayexistencetoexceptionalacts;but certainlywhenthedesireforconquestisinvoked,itisamatterofmakinganindividualact legitimateforacommunity.Infact,intheindividualbeingorinthegrouplimitedtothose whoperformtheexceptionalact,thethinkingimplementedismuchmoreprimitiveand muchmoreelaborate. Ascent,explorationand,moregenerally,everypioneeringactconsistsinadheringto

thekeypointsthatnaturepresents.Climbingaslopeinordertogotowardthesummitisto makeoneswaytowardtheprivilegedplacethatcommandstheentiremountainousmassif, notinordertodominateortotakepossessionofit,buttoenterintoafriendlyrelationship withit.Manandnaturearenotstrictlyspeakingenemiesbeforesuchaccessiontothekey point,butstrangerstooneother.Untilithasbeenclimbed,thesummitisonlyasummit,a placehigherthantheothers.Theascentgivesitthecharacterofaplacethatismorefully developed,elaborate,andnonabstract,aplacewherethisexchangebetweentheworldand manoccurs.Thesummitistheplacefromwhichthewholemassifisseeninanabsoluteway, whileviewsfromallotherplacesarerelativeandincomplete,makingonewishforthe summitpointofview.Anexpeditionoranavigationthatmakesitpossibletoreacha continentbyanestablishedroutedoesnotconqueranything;nevertheless,inmagical thinkingtheyarevalidinthattheymakepossiblecontactwiththecontinentinaprivileged placethatisakeypoint.Themagicaluniverseismadeupofthenetworkofplacesproviding accesstoeverydomainofreality:itconsistsofthresholds,summits,boundaries,andcrossing pointsthatareconnectedtooneanotherbytheirsingularityandtheirexceptionalnature.

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Thisnetworkofboundariesisnotonlyspatialbutalsotemporal;therearenotable

datesandprivilegedmomentstobeginoneactionoranother.Besides,theverynotionof beginningismagical,evenifeveryparticularvalueisdeniedonthedateofthebeginning;the beginningofanactionthatistolastandthefirstactofwhatshouldbealongseriesought nottohaveinthemselvesaparticularmajestyandpowerofdirection,iftheywerethought tobecontrollingtheentiredurationoftheactionandthewholesequenceofefforts, propitiousorotherwise;datesareprivilegedpointsoftimethatmakepossibleanexchange betweenhumanintentionandthespontaneousunfoldingofevents.Thesearethetemporal structuresbywhichmanisinsertedinnaturalbecoming,justastheinfluenceofnaturaltime affectseachhumanlife,becomingdestiny. Incivilizedlifetoday,agreatmanyinstitutionsconcernmagicalthinking,butare

hiddenbyutilitarianconceptsthatindirectlyjustifythem;inparticular,timeoff,festivals,and vacationscompensatewiththeirmagicalchargeforthelossofmagicalpowerimposedby civilizedurbanlife.Thus,vacationtrips,thatarethoughttoproviderestanddiversion,arein factaquestforkeypointsoldornew;thesepointscanbethebigcityforcountrypeople,or thecountrysideforcitydwellers,butmoregenerallytheyarenotanyparticularsiteinthe cityorthecountryside;it[thekeypoint]istheshoreorthehighmountainoreventhe bordercrossedonthewaytoaforeignland.Publicholidaysarerelatedtoprivileged momentsoftime;occasionally,aconjunctionofsingularmomentsandsingularsitesis possible.

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So,ordinarytimeandordinaryspaceserveasgroundforthesefigures;dissociated

fromtheground,figureswouldlosetheirmeaning;timeoffandcelebrationsarenota releasefromordinarylifebysuspendingordinarylife,butasearchforprivilegedplacesand datesinrelationtothecontinuousground. Thisfiguralstructureisinherentintheworld,ratherthandetached;itisthe

reticulationoftheuniverseinprivilegedkeypointsatwhichexchangeshappenbetweenthe livingbeinganditsmilieu.Now,itispreciselythisreticularstructurethatgoesoutofphase whenthereisashiftfromtheoriginalmagicalunitytotechnicsandtoreligion:figureand groundseparatebybecomingdetachedfromtheuniversetowhichtheyadhered.Thekey pointsbecomeobjective,retainingonlytheirfunctionalmediatorycharacteristics,becoming instrumental,mobile,capableofefficiencyinanyplaceandatanytime;asfigure,thekey points,detachedfromthegroundforwhichtheywerethekey,becometechnicalobjects, transportableandabstractedfromthemilieu.Atthesametime,thekeypointslosetheir mutualreticulationandtheirpowerofdistantinfluenceontherealitythatsurroundedthem; astechnicalobjectstheyhaveonlyoneactionuponcontact,sitebysite,instantbyinstant. Thisruptureofthenetworkofkeypointsfreesthecharacteristicsoftheground,andthesein turnbecomedetachedfromtheirownground,narrowlyqualitativeandconcrete,inorderto hoveroverthewholeuniverse,throughoutspaceandthroughouttime,intheformof detachedpowersandforcesabovetheworld.Whilethekeypointsbecomeobjectiveinthe formofconcretizedtoolsandinstruments,thegroundpowersbecomesubjectiveby becomingpersonifiedintheformofthedivineandthesacred(Gods,heroes,priests).

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Theprimitivereticulationofthemagicalworldisthusthesourceofanobjectification

andasubjectificationthatareinconflict;atthemomentoftheruptureoftheinitial structuring,thefactthatthefigurebecomesdetachedfromthegroundisexpressedby anotherdetachment:figureandgroundthemselvesarefreedfromtheirconcreteadherence totheuniverseandtakecontrastingpathways;thefigurebecomesfragmented,whereasthe groundqualitiesandforcesbecomeuniversalized:thisbreakupandthisuniversalizingare formsofbecoming,thefigurebecominganabstractfigure,andgroundsbecomingasingle abstractground.Thisphaseshiftofthemediationintofiguralcharacteristicsandground characteristicstranslatesintotheemergenceofadistancebetweenmanandtheworld.The meditationitself,insteadofbeingasimplestructuringoftheuniverse,takesonacertain density;itbecomesobjectifiedintechnicsandbecomessubjectifiedinreligion,makingthe firstobjectappearinthetechnicalobjectandthefirstsubjectappearindivinity,when previouslytherehadbeenasingleunityofthelivinganditsmilieu:objectivityand subjectivityemergebetweenthelivinganditsmilieu,betweenmanandtheworld,ata momentwhentheworlddoesnotyethaveacompletestatusasobjectnormanacomplete statusassubject.Moreover,itcanbeaffirmedthatobjectivityisnevercompletely coextensivewiththeworld,andthatsubjectivityisnevercompletelycoextensivewithman. Itisonlywhentheworldisenvisagedfromatechnicistperspectiveandmanisenvisaged fromareligiousperspectivethatonecanbecalledacompleteobjectandtheothera completesubject.Pureobjectivityandpuresubjectivityaremodesofthemediationbetween manandtheworld,intheirfirstform.

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Religionandtechnicsaretheorganizationoftwosymmetricalandcontrasting

mediations;buttheyformacouple,sinceeachisbutonephaseoftheprimitive mediation.Inthissense,theydonothaveadefinitiveautonomy.Furthermore,evenwhen takeninthesystemthattheyform,theycannotbeconsideredasenclosingallthereal,since theyarebetweenmanandtheworld,butdonotcontaintheentirerealityofmanandofthe world,andcannotapplytoitinacompleteway.Becauseofthegapbetweenthesetwo opposingaspectsofmediation,scienceandethicsdeepentherelationbetweenmanandthe world.Withregardtoscienceandtoethics,thetwoprimitivemediationsplayanormative role:scienceandethicsarebornintheintervaldefinedbythegapbetweentechnicsand religion,byfollowingthemediandirection;theprecedencethatreligionandtechnicshaveto scienceandethicsisofthesameorderastheprecedencethatlineslimitingananglehaveto thebisectorofthatangle:thesidesoftheanglemaybeindicatedbyshortsegments, whereasthebisectorcanbeextendedindefinitely.Likewise,fromthegapthatexists betweenveryprimitivetechnicsandaveryprimitivereligion,averyelaboratescienceand veryelaborateethicscanbeprogressivelyconstructedwithoutbeinglimitedby,butonly directedby,thebasicconditionsoftechnicsandreligion. Theoriginofthedivisionthatcreatedtechnicalthinkingandreligiousthinkingcanbe

attributedtoaprimitivestructureofreticulationthatistrulyfunctional.Thisdivision separatedfigurefromground,figureprovidingthecontentoftechnics,andgroundproviding thatofreligion.Whereasinthemagicalreticulationoftheworld,figureandgroundare reciprocalrealities,technicsandreligionemergewhenfigureandgroundbecomedetached fromoneanother,inthiswaybecomingmobile,divisible,displaceable,anddirectlyopento

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manipulationbecausedisconnectedfromtheworld.Technicalthinkingretainsonlythe schematismofstructures,ofwhatmakesuptheefficiencyofactiononsingularsites;these singularsites,detachedfromtheworldofwhichtheywerethefigure,detachedalsofrom oneanother,losingtheirimmobilizingreticularconcatenation,becomedivisibleand receptiveaswellasreproducibleandconstructible.Theelevatedplacebecomesan observationpost,awatchtowerconstructedintheplain,oratowerplacedattheentranceto agorge.Atthebeginning,technicsareoftencontenttodevelopaprivilegedplace,aswhen constructingatoweratthesummitofahill,orplacingalighthouseonapromontoryatthe mostvisiblepoint.Buttechnicscanalsosuccessfullycreatethefunctionalityofprivileged sites.Ofnaturalrealitiestechnicsretainonlythefiguralpower,notthesiteandnatural localizationonadeterminedgroundgivenpriortoanyhumanintervention.Dividingthe schematismsmoreandmore,itmakessomethingintoatooloraninstrument,thatistosay, afragmentdetachedfromtheworldcapableofworkingefficientlyinanylocationandunder anyconditions,sitebysite,accordingtotheintentionthatdirectsitandatthemoment whenmansowishes.Theaccessibilityofthetechnicalthingconsistsinitsbeingfreedfrom servitudetothegroundoftheworld.Technicsareanalytic,operatingprogressivelyandby contact,leavingasideconnectionbyinfluence.Inmagicthesingularplacepermitsaction overawholedomain,justastalkingtothekingisenoughtowinoverawholepeople.In technics,ontheotherhand,allofrealitymustbeexamined,touchedandtreatedbythe technicalobject,detachedfromtheworldandavailableforuseinanysiteatanymoment. Thetechnicalobjectisdistinguishablefromthenaturalbeinginthesensethatitisnotpartof theworld.Itintervenesasmediatorbetweenmanandtheworld;itis,therefore,thefirst

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detachedobject,fortheworldisaunity,amilieuratherthananensembleofobjects;there areinfactthreetypesofreality:theworld,thesubject,andtheobject,whichisan intermediarybetweentheworldandthesubject,theprimaryformofwhichisthetechnical object. III.DIVERGENCEOFTECHNICALTHINKINGANDOFRELIGIOUSTHINKING Technicalthinking,whichresultsfromtheruptureoftheprimitivereticularstructure

ofthemagicalworld,andwhichretainsthosefiguralelementsthatcanbedepositedin objects,tools,orinstruments,gainsfromthisdetachmentanaccessibilitythatmakes possibleitsapplicationtoeveryelementoftheworld.However,thisrupturealsoproducesa deficit:thetoolorthetechnicalinstrumenthasretainedonlyitsfiguralcharacteristics,and figuralaspectsthataredetachedfromthegroundwithwhichtheyhadoncebeendirectly connectedsincetheycamefromaprimarystructuringthatcausedfigureandgroundto springupasasingleandcontinuousreality.Inthemagicaluniverse,thefigurewasthefigure ofagroundandthegroundthegroundofafigure;thereal,theunityofthereal,wasatonce figureandground;thequestionofapossiblelackofeffectivenessofthefigureontheground oroftheinfluenceofthegroundonthefigurecouldnothavearisen,sincefigureandground constitutedasingleunityofbeing.Ontheotherhand,inthecaseoftechnics,afterthe rupture,whatthetechnicalobjectretainedoffiguralcharacteristicsandmadethem permanentfindsanygroundwhateveranonymousandforeign.Thetechnicalobjecthas becomeabearerofform,aremnantoffiguralcharacteristics,andittriestoapplythatform toagroundthatisnowdetachedfromthefigure,becauseithaslostitsintimateinherent

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relationshipandbecauseitcanbeinformedbyanyformencountered,butinaviolent,more orlessimperfectmanner;figureandgroundhavebecomestrangersandabstractinrelation tooneother. Thehylemorphicschemadoesnotsolelydescribethegenesisoflivingbeings;itmight

notevendescribeitessentially.Perhapsalsoitdoesnotderivefromawellthoughtoutand conceptualizedexperienceoftechnics:beforetheknowledgeofthelivingbeingandbefore reflectionontechnics,thisimplicitadequacyoffigureandgroundisbrokenbytechnics.If thehylemorphicschemaseemsdisengagedfromtechnicalexperience,thisisbecauseitis moreanormandanidealthananexperienceofthereal.Technicalexperience,makinguse ofvestigesoffiguralelementsandvestigesofgroundcharacteristics,revivestheprimary intuitionofamutualadherenceofmatterandform,ofacouplingprecedinganydivision.In thissense,thehylemorphicschemaiscorrect,notbecauseofthelogicaluseofitinancient philosophy,butasanintuitionofthestructureoftheuniverseformanbeforethebirthof technics.Thisrelationcannotbeorganizedasahierarchy:itcannothaveinitincreasingly successiveandincreasinglyabstractstagesofmatterandofform,becausetherealmodelof therelationbetweenmatterandformistheprimarystructuringoftheuniverseasfigureand ground;now,thisstructuringistrueonlyifitisnotabstract,ifitisatonestageonly;the groundisreallygroundandthefigurereallyfigure,anditcannotbecomegroundforahigher figure.ThemannerinwhichAristotledescribestherelationsbetweenformandmatter,in particularthesuppositionthatmatteraspirestoform(matteraspirestoformasthefemale tothemale)isalreadyfarfromprimitivemagicalthinking,forthataspirationcanonlyexistif therehadbeenanearlierdetachment;so,itisasinglebeingthatisatoncematterandform.

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Furthermore,perhapsoneshouldnotsaythatonlytheindividualbeingismadeupofmatter andform;becausetheemergenceofafiguregroundstructureispriortoanysegregationof units.Themutualrelationofcorrespondencebetweenagivenkeypointandagivenground neitherpresupposestheisolationofthekeypointfromthenetworkofotherkeypointsnor thediscontinuityofthisgroundfromothergrounds:itisauniversethatisstructuredinthis way,notanensembleofindividuals.Thefirstdetachedbeingstoemergeaftertheruptureof theprimitivereticulationaretechnicalobjectsandreligioussubjects,andtheyare responsibleforfiguralcharacteristicsastheyareforgroundcharacteristics:therefore,they donotfullypossessmatterandform. Thedissociationoftheprimitivestructuringfromthemagicaluniverseentailsaseries

ofconsequencesfortechnicsandreligion,andthroughthemitconditionsthelater developmentofscienceandofethics.Infact,unitybelongstothemagicalworld.Thephase shiftthatmakesforanoppositionbetweentechnicsandreligion,inanirreduciblewayleaves technicalcontentwithastatuslesserthanunityandleavesreligiouscontentwithastatus greaterthanunity.Thiscausesalltheotherconsequences.Aproperunderstandingofthe statusofthetechnicityofobjectsdependsonitsbeinggraspedintermsofthedevelopment thatputtheprimitiveunityoutofphase.Religion,retainingitsgroundcharacteristics (homogeneity,qualitativenature,indistinctionofelementswithinasystemofmutual influences,longrangeactionacrossspaceandtimeresultinginubiquityandeternity), representstheimplementationofthefunctionsoftotality.Aparticularbeing,aprecise objectofattentionorofeffort,isalwaysconsideredinreligiousthoughttobesmallerthan realunity,inferiortothetotalityandincludedwithinit,exceededbythetotalityofspace,

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andprecededandfollowedbytheimmensityoftime.Whethersubjectorobject,theobject, thebeing,theindividualisalwaysunderstoodtobelessthanunity,tobedominatedbya presagedtotalitythatinfinitelytranscendsit.Thesourceofthetranscendenceliesinthe functionoftotalitythatdominatestheparticularbeing;inthereligiousviewofthingsthis particularbeingisunderstoodinrelationtoatotalityinwhichitparticipates,becauseof whichitexists,butwhichitcannevercompletelyexpress.Religionuniversalizesthefunction oftotality,whichisdissociatedandconsequentlyfreedfromanyfiguralattachmentthat limitsit;thegroundsconnectedtotheworldinmagicalthinkingandconsequentlylimitedby theverystructuringofthemagicaluniverse,becomeinreligiousthinkingalimitless background,spatialaswellastemporal.Theyretaintheirpositivegroundqualities(forces, powers,influences,quality),butridthemselvesoftheirlimitsandtheadherencethat attachedthemtoahicetnunc.Theybecomeabsoluteground,totalityofground. Advancementintheuniversebeginsfromliberatedand,tosomeextent,abstractmagical grounds. Religiousthinking,afterthedisjunctionofgroundandfigure,retainstheotherpartof

themagicalworld:theground,withitsqualities,itstensions,itsforces;butthisground,too, likethefiguralschemasoftechnics,becomessomethingdetachedfromtheworld, abstractedfromtheprimitivemilieu.Andjustasthefiguralschemasoftechnics,freedfrom theiradherencetotheworld,areaffixedtotoolorinstrumentinthecourseofbecoming objectified,thequalitiesofgroundthattechnicitymakesavailableinthemobilizationof figuresareaffixedtosubjects.Technicalobjectificationleadingtotheemergenceofthe technicalobject,themediatorbetweenmanandtheworld,hasacounterpartinreligious

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subjectification.Justastechnicalmediationisinstitutedbymeansofsomethingthat becomesatechnicalobject,soreligiousmediationemergesasaresultoftheaffixingof groundcharacteristicsonsubjects,realorimaginary,divinitiesorpriests.Religious subjectificationnormallyleadstomediationbythepriest,whiletechnicalmediationleadsto mediationbythetechnicalobject.Technicityretainsthefiguralcharacteristicsofthe primitivecomplexofmanandtheworld,whilereligiosityretainsthegroundcharacteristics. Technicityandreligiosityareneitherdegradedformsofmagicnorrelicsofmagic;

theyissuefromthedivisionoftheprimitivemagicalcomplex,thereticulationoftheoriginal humanmilieuintofigureandground.Itisthroughtheircouplingthattechnicsandreligion aretheheirsofmagic,notthrougheachonitsown.Religionisnotmoremagicalthan technics;itisthesubjectivephaseoftheresultofdivision,whereastechnicsarethe objectivephaseoftheverysamedivision.Technicsandreligionarecontemporariesofeach other,and,wheneachistakenseparately,theyaremoreimpoverishedthanthemagicfrom whichtheyemerge. Religion,therefore,hasbynaturethevocationtorepresenttheexigencyofthe

totality;whenitdividesintoatheoreticalmodeandapracticalmode,throughtheologyit becomestheexigencyofasystematicrepresentationoftherealasanabsoluteunity; throughmorality,itbecomesforethicstheexigencyofabsolutenormsofactionthatare justifiedinthenameofthetotalityandsuperiortoallhypothetical,thatistosayparticular, imperatives;toscienceastoethics,religionbringsaprincipleofreferencetothetotality, whichistheaspirationtotheunityoftheoreticalknowledgeandtotheabsolutecharacterof

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themoralimperative.Religiousinspirationconstitutesapermanentreminderoftherelativity ofoneparticularbeingwithrespecttoanunconditionaltotalityexceedingeveryobjectand everysubjectofknowledgeandofaction. Conversely,technicshaveacontentthatisalwayssubordinatetothestatusofthe

unity,becausetheschemasofefficiencyandthestructuresresultingfromthefragmentation oftheprimitivenetworkofkeypointscannotbeappliedtothetotalityoftheworld.By nature,technicalobjectsaremultipleanddivided;technicalthinking,enclosedinthis plurality,canprogress,butonlybymultiplyingtechnicalobjects,withoutbeingableto recapturetheprimitiveunity.Evenwhenmultiplyingtechnicalobjectsendlessly,itis impossibletofindanabsoluteadequacytotheworld,sinceeachoftheobjectsattacksthe worldinoneplaceonlyandinonemomentonly;itislocalized,particularized;adding technicalobjectsonetoanothercanneitherremaketheworldnorregaincontactwiththe worldinitsunity,whichwastheaimofmagicalthinking. Inconnectionwithaspecificobjectorwithaspecifictask,technicalthinkingisalways

inferiortounity:itcanpresentseveralobjectsandseveralmeans,andselectthebest;but nonetheless,italwaysremainsinadequatetothewholenessoftheunityoftheobjectorof thetask.Eachschema,eachobject,eachtechnicaloperation,iscontrolledandguidedbythe wholefromwhichitderivesitsendsanditsorientation,andwhichprovidesitwithanever attainedprincipleofunitythatisexpressedbycombiningandmultiplyingitsschemas. Technicalthinkinghasbynaturethevocationtorepresentthepointofviewofthe

element;itadherestotheelementaryfunction.Oncetechnicityisadmittedintoadomainit

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breaksitupandstartsachainofsuccessiveandelementarymediationsgovernedbythe unityofthedomainandsubordinatedtoit.Technicalthinkingconceivestheoperationofan ensembleasachainofelementaryprocessesworkingpointbypointandstepbystep;it localizesandmultipliestheschemasofmediation,alwaysremaininglesserthantheunity. Theelementintechnicalthinkingismorestable,betterunderstood,andinacertainway moreperfectthantheensemble;itisreallyanobject,whereastheensemblealwaysremains toacertainextentinherentintheworld.Religiousthinkingfindstheoppositeequilibrium:in it,thetotalityismorestable,morepowerful,andmoreviablethantheelement. Inthetheoreticaldomainasintheethicaldomain,technicsareconcernedwiththe

element.Inthesciencesthecontributionoftechnicsconsistedinmakingpossiblea representationofphenomenaonebyonebybreakingthemdownintosimpleelementary processessimilartotheoperationsoftechnicalobjects;suchistheroleofthemechanistic hypothesisthatenabledDescartestorepresenttherainbowasanoverallresultofthepoint bypointtrajectorytakenbyeachluminouscorpuscleineachdropofraininacloud;andit wasalsoaccordingtothesamemethodthatDescartesdescribesthefunctioningoftheheart bybreakingdownacompletecycleintosimplesuccessiveoperationsandshowingthatthe functioningofthewholeistheresultoftheplayofelementsnecessitatedbytheirparticular disposition(forexample,thatofeachvalve).Descartesdoesnotaskhimselfwhytheheartis madeinthisway,withvalvesandcavities,buthowitworksgivenhowitismade.The applicationofschemasdrawnfromtechnicsdoesnotaccountfortheexistenceofthe totality,takenasaunity,butdoesaccountforthepointbypointandinstantbyinstant functioningofthattotality.

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Intheethicaldomain,technicalthinkingnotonlyintroducesmeansofactionthatare

fragmentaryandtiedtothecapacitiesofeachobjectthatisbecomingautensil,butalsoa certainreduplicationoftheactionbytechnicity;aspecifichumanaction,consideredwith respecttoitsresults,couldhavebeenaccomplishedbyaspecifictechnicalfunctioninggoing throughvariousstages;elementsandmomentsofactionhavetheirtechnicalanalogue;an effortofattention,ofmemory,couldhavebeenreplacedbyatechnicaloperation;technicity providesapartialequivalencetotheresultsofaction;itaccentuatesawarenessoftheaction bythebeingwhobringsittocompletionintheformofresults;itbroadcastsandobjectifies theresultsoftheactionthroughcomparisonwiththoseofthetechnicaloperation,breaking downtheactionintopartialresults,intoelementarycompletions.Justasinthesciences technicityintroducesthesearchforthehowbyabreakingdownofensemblephenomena intoelementaryoperations,so,inethicstechnicityintroducesthesearchforabreakingdown oftheoverallactionintotheelementsofaction;becausethetotalactionisenvisagedasthat whichproducesaresult,thebreakdownoftheactiongeneratedbytechnicsconsidersthe elementsoftheactionasgesturesthatachievepartialresults.Technicityassumesthatan actionislimitedtoitsresults;itisnotconcernedwiththesubjectoftheactiontakeninits realtotality,norevenwithanactioninitstotality,totheextentthatthetotalityoftheaction isfoundedontheunityofthesubject.Inethicsconcernwithresultsistheanalogueofthe searchforthehowinthesciences;resultandprocessremainsubordinatetotheunityofthe actionortotheensembleofthereal.

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Thepostulationofanabsoluteandunconditionaljustificationwhichreligiondirects

towardethicstranslatesintoasearchfortheintentionasopposedtoasearchfortheresult thatisinspiredbytechnics.Inthesciences,religiousthinkingintroducesanappealfor absolutetheoreticalunitythatrequiresasearchforthesenseofbecomingandtheexistence ofgivenphenomena(hencerespondingtothewhy?),whereastechnicalthinkingoffersan examinationofthehow?foreachofthephenomena. Becauseitscontentisinferiortounity,technicalthinkingistheparadigmforall

inductivethinking,bothinthetheoreticalorderandinthepractical.Itcontainsthisinductive processinitself,priortoanyseparationintopracticalandtheoreticalmodes.Induction,in fact,isnotmerelyalogicalprocessinthestrictsenseoftheterm;anyprocesscanbe consideredtobeaprocessoftheinductivetypeifitscontentisinferiorthestatusofunity,if itstrivestoattainunityor,atleast,ifittendstowardunityfromapluralityofelements,each ofwhichisinferiortounity.Whatinductiontakesholdof,whatitstartsfrom,isanelement thatinitselfisnotsufficientandcomplete,anddoesnotconstituteaunity;so,itexceeds eachparticularelementbycombiningitwithotherelementsthatarethemselvesparticular, inordertofindananalogueofunity:ininductionthereisasearchforthegroundofreality fromfiguralelementsthatarefragments;totrytofindalawbeneathphenomena,asinthe inductionofBaconandStuartMill,ortotrytofindonlywhatiscommontoallindividualsof agivenspecies,asinAristotlesinduction,istopostulatethatbeyondthepluralityof phenomenaandofindividualsthereexistsastableandcommongroundforreality,thatis theunityofthereal.

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Itisnodifferentinethicsthatwoulddirectlyderivefromtechnics;towantthewhole

durationoflifetobeaseriesofmoments,toextractfromeachsituationwhatispleasantin it,andtowanttoconstructthehappinessoflifebyaccumulatingitsagreeableelements,as didancientEudaimonismorUtilitarianism,istoproceedinaninductivemanner,bytryingto replacetheunityofthedurationoflifeandtheunityofhumanaspirationwithapluralityof instantsandwiththehomogeneityofallsuccessivedesires.Theelaborationtowhich Epicureanismsubmitsdesireshasonegoalonly,whichistoincorporatethemintothe continuityofanexistencethatproceedsinanaccumulativemanner:forthis,eachofthe desiresmustbedominatedandsurroundedbythesubject,madelesserthanunity,sothatit canbetreatedandmanipulatedasagenuineelement.Thisiswhythepassionsare eliminated,sincetheycannotbetreatedaselements;theyarelargerthantheunityofthe subject;theydominateit,theycomefromfartherawaythanitandtendtogofartheron thanit,obligingittoexceeditslimits.Lucretiustriestodestroythepassionsfromwithin,by showingthattheyarebasedonerrors;infact,hefailstoaccountfortheelementof tendencyinpassion,thatistosay,fortheforcethatisinsertedintothesubjectandyetis moreextensivethanit,aforceinrelationtowhichitseemstobeaverylimitedbeing; tendencycannotbeconsideredtobecontainedwithinthesubjectasaunity.Wisdom, havingrestoredtheforcesattheoriginofactiontoastatusofinferioritywithrespecttothe unityofthemoralsubject,canorganizethemaselementsandreconstructamoralsubject withinthenaturalsubject;however,thismoralsubjectnevercompletelyattainsthelevelof unity;betweenthereconstructedmoralsubjectandthenaturalsubjectthereremainsavoid impossibletofill;theinductiveapproachremainsinplurality;itconstructsanetworkof

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elements,butthisnetworkcannotamounttoarealunity.Allethicaltechnicsleavethe moralsubjectunsatisfiedbecausetheyignoreitsunity;thesubjectcannotbecontentwitha lifethatwouldbeaseries,evenanuninterruptedseries,ofhappymoments;alifethatis perfectlysuccessfulelementbyelementisstillnotamorallife;itlackswhatmakesitthelife ofasubject:unity. Butconversely,religiousthinking,thefoundationofobligation,createsinethical

thoughtasearchforunconditionaljustificationwhichmakeseveryactandeverysubject appeartobeinferiortorealunity;whenrelatedtoatotalitythatexpandsendlessly,the moralactandsubjectderivetheirsignificancesolelyfromtheirrelationwiththistotality;the communicationbetweenthetotalityandthesubjectisprecarious,becauseateverymoment thesubjectisdrawnbacktothedimensionofitsownunity,whichisnotthatofthetotality; theethicalsubjectisdecenteredbyreligiousexigency.

GilbertSimondon, 1958, translatedby NinianMellamphy (DepartmentofEnglish,UniversityofWesternOntario,London), DanMellamphy(CentrefortheStudyofTheoryandCriticism, UniversityofWesternOntario,London),and NanditaBiswasMellamphy(DepartmentofPoliticalScience, UniversityofWesternOntario,London), 2010. ForthcomingfromSemiotext(e).