Cyborg Manifesto

Donna Haraway In this pivotal text Haraway argues for an "ironic myth" of the cyborg as a way to dismantle distinct categories, which is enabled by late twentieth century technologies. She argues that these categories—masculine, feminine, human, machine, physical, non-physical, etc.—are made ambiguous through the technologies of the twentieth century. Haraway argues for a hybrid view of the world and identity built upon both science fiction and social realities. She offers her cyborg myth as a substitute for outdated, exclusionary, masculine narratives. The inorganic cyborg opens new conceptions of being that avoid traditional categories of domination. Even though computers and machinery emerge from epistemologies of code and control, Haraway finds potential for a new, liberating politics enabled by technology and hybridity. Hybridity combats hegemonic dualities, and opens new forms of being. Though somewhat dated, this essay still carries the potential of identity reformation through a consideration of relations as key in the individuating process. There is room for debate on whether or not the technologies of late twentieth century have enabled greater hybridity amongst individuals or more control by existing power structures. No doubt, examples of both instances can be found. However, the strength of the essay is the political potential Haraway finds in the inorganic affecting bodies taken up by society and individuals. I will use this text to describe the potential of technology's role in culture. While Simondon also writes of technological culture, his work comes before global movements of feminism, civil rights and queer theory (to name only a few important political movements). Simondon's ethics must be updated to include issues surrounding race, gender, sexuality and class biases. Haraway's continuing attempts to move away from dualism and into an era of the cyborg are continued in her more recent work and are, I believe, in line with Simondon's theories of individual, milieu and collective.

Humans and Machines

Thomas Lamarre. “Humans and Machines.” Inflexions 5, “Simondon: Milieu, 29 Techniques, Aesthetics” (March 2012). 29-67. Also published as the afterword to Muriel Combes’s Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Transindividual, in this essay Lamarre focuses on the political stakes within Simondon's philosophy, using Foucault and Rancière as touchstones in his argument. Lamarre argues that Foucault and Simondon share an approach to understanding modernity "in terms of overlapping fields of rationality…with their specific potential for resistance" (50). Lamarre draws out the "politics of knowledge" evident in Simondon's approach to bringing forth a technical mentality (see Technical Mentality). However, such a move is spurred by Simondon's goals of a technical equality between humans and machines, which, Lamarre argues, links him to Rancière's aesthetic equality. Technical equality "may not guarantee political equality or democracy but surely conditions it" (53). This allows Lamarre, following Combes, to think through the counters to technical determination and subjugation within Simondon's philosophy. At the heart of this is both the adoption of a technical mentality and the participation on the part of humans with a "non-linear and discontinuous" process of technical evolution where both humans and machines are considered active agents.

Lamarre's essay connects Simondon with a number of thinkers, highlighting different resonances with not just Foucault and Rancière, but also Whitehead, Latour, Stengers, Deleuze and Guattari. His essay brings to light the potential in Simondon's work, while also tempering some of the elements glossed over by other commentators and the utopian qualities within Simondon's philosophy. If anything, the essay may attempt too much and not make clear connections between certain ideas, for instance the concepts of minor and major within Simondon and Deleuze and Guattari. Additionally, the article focuses on the politics of Simondon's philosophy of technology, but does not consider the politics inherent to the rest of Simondon's philosophy (information, transduction, individuation, transindividual, etc.). I will use Lamarre's arguments to further my own considerations of the relations between aesthetics, technology, information and praxis within Simondon's philosophy.