Another new book from Bernard Stiegler – Neganthropocene

Bernard Stiegler being interviewed

Open Humanities has a(nother!) new book from Bernard Stiegler, blurb pasted below. This is an edited version of Stiegler’s public lectures in various places over the last three or so years, hence Dan Ross’ byline. Dan has done some fantastic work of corralling the fast-moving blizzard of Stiegler’s concepts and sometimes flitting engagements with a wide range of other thinkers and I am sure that this book surfaces this work.

It would be interesting to see some critical engagement with this, it seems that Stiegler simply isn’t as trendy as Latour and Sloterdijk or the ‘bromethean‘ object-oriented chaps for those ‘doing’ the ‘anthropocene’ for some reason. I’m not advocating his position especially, I have various misgivings if I’m honest (and maybe one day I’ll write them down) but it is funny that there’s a sort of anglophone intellectually snobbery about some people’s work…

Neganthropocene

by Bernard Stiegler
Edited and translated by Daniel Ross

Forthcoming

As we drift past tipping points that put future biota at risk, while a post-truth regime institutes the denial of ‘climate change’ (as fake news), and as Silicon Valley assistants snatch decision and memory, and as gene-editing and a financially-engineered bifurcation advances over the rising hum of extinction events and the innumerable toxins and conceptual opiates that Anthropocene Talk fascinated itself with–in short, as ‘the Anthropocene’ discloses itself as a dead-end trap–Bernard Stiegler here produces the first counter-strike and moves beyond the entropic vortex and the mnemonically stripped Last Man socius feeding the vortex.

In the essays and lectures here titled Neganthropocene, Stiegler opens an entirely new front moving beyond the dead-end “banality” of the Anthropocene. Stiegler stakes out a battleplan to proceed beyond, indeed shrugging off, the fulfillment of nihilism that the era of climate chaos ushers in. Understood as the reinscription of philosophical, economic, anthropological and political concepts within a renewed thought of entropy and negentropy, Stiegler’s ‘Neganthropocene’ pursues encounters with Alfred North Whitehead, Jacques Derrida, Gilbert Simondon, Peter Sloterdijk, Karl Marx, Benjamin Bratton, and others in its address of a wide array of contemporary technics: cinema, automation, neurotechnology, platform capitalism, digital governance and terrorism. This is a work that will need be digested by all critical laborers who have invoked the Anthropocene in bemused, snarky, or pedagogic terms, only to find themselves having gone for the click-bait of the term itself–since even those who do not risk definition in and by the greater entropy.

Author Bio

Bernard Stiegler is a French philosopher who is director of the Institut de recherche et d’innovation, and a doctor of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. He has been a program director at the Collège international de philosophie, senior lecturer at Université de Compiègne, deputy director general of the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, director of IRCAM, and director of the Cultural Development Department at the Centre Pompidou. He is also president of Ars Industrialis, an association he founded in 2006, as well as a distinguished professor of the Advanced Studies Institute of Nanjing, and visiting professor of the Academy of the Arts of Hangzhou, as well as a member of the French government’s Conseil national du numérique. Stiegler has published more than thirty books, all of which situate the question of technology as the repressed centre of philosophy, and in particular insofar as it constitutes an artificial, exteriorised memory that undergoes numerous transformations in the course of human existence.

Daniel Ross has translated eight books by Bernard Stiegler, including the forthcoming In the Disruption: How Not to Go Mad?(Polity Press). With David Barison, he is the co-director of the award-winning documentary about Martin Heidegger, The Ister, which premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival and was the recipient of the Prix du Groupement National des Cinémas de Recherche (GNCR) and the Prix de l’AQCC at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Montreal (2004). He is the author of Violent Democracy (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and numerous articles and chapters on the work of Bernard Stiegler.

Simondon and Technics event recordings

If you were not in Kingston earlier this week but have a desire to be part of the ‘next big thing in theory’, or you’re actually interested in the philosophy of technology, it appears that the talks were recorded… via dmf / Stuart Eldon.

Simondon on Technics: On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects

Please join the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) for a workshop to discuss Gilbert Simondon’s 1958 On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, finally now translated into English in its complete form.

Speakers: Andrea Bardin (Brunel University), Giovanni Carrozzini (CIDES, MSH Paris-Nord), Xavier Guchet (Paris 1 Sorbonne), Cécile Malaspina(translator), Simon Mills (De Monfort University), Pablo Rodriguez (University of Buenos Aires)

The 2016 English translation of Gilbert Simondon’s 1958 On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects finally introduces the Anglophone reader to a complete version of the French philosopher’s great work: a complex crossover between ontology, epistemology, psycho-sociology and the philosophy of technology. With the participation of international specialists on Simondon’s writings, this workshop aims to explore the main themes of Simondon’s philosophy of technology, connecting them to the relational ontology of communication processes outlined in Individuation in the Light of the Notions of Form and Information.

Reblog> Yuk Hui @digital_objects at Birkbeck on ‘For a Realism of Relations: The Case of Digital Objects’

via Scott Rodgers

Yuk Hui – For a Realism of Relations: The Case of Digital ObjectsThe Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology at Birkbeck is pleased to welcome Yuk Hui on 17 June, 2016 (3pm to 4pm in the Birkbeck Cinema)

In this talk, Yuk Hui will discuss his recent book On the Existence of Digital Objects, which is an investigation of digital objects in light of the proliferation of computational ontologies, and situates this phenomenon within both the history of philosophy and computation. This central thesis of the book is to develop a theory of relations in order to understand objects and to politicize the existence of digital objects, by drawing from Simondon, Heidegger and Husserl.

The talk will be followed by a response from Vasari Research Centre director Joel McKim and a Q&A with the audience.

Yuk Hui is currently research associate at the Institute of Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media of Leuphana University Lüneburg; previous to that, he was postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Research and Innovation of the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He is editor (with Andreas Broeckmann) of 30 Years after Les Immatériaux: Art, Science and Theory (2015), and author of On the Existence of Digital Objects (prefaced by Bernard Stiegler, University of Minnesota Press, 2016).

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/yuk-hui-for-a-realism-of-relations-the-case-of-digital-objects-tickets-25647236575

Compositional thinking, or ‘deconstruction as composition’

I’ve been re-reading Dan Ross’ excellent chapter in the edited collection Stiegler and Technics entitled “Pharmacology and Critique after Deconstruction” and wanted to post an excerpt because it seems to me one of the clearest interpretations of one of the foundations of Bernard Stiegler’s thought: “composition”. This is a brief excerpt but I thoroughly recommend reading Dan’s chapter, and indeed the whole book – which is really good!

 

Stiegler inherits more from Derrida than from any other thinker: ‘deconstructive’ thinking is translated in Stieglerian terms into ‘compositional’ thinking:

Deconstruction is a thinking of composition in the sense that composition is ‘older’ than opposition (what Simondon would have called a ‘transductive relation’: that is, a relation that constitutes its terms, the terms not existing outside the relation). It is a relation that is the vehicle of a process (that of différance), one very close, I would argue, to what Simondon elaborates in terms of a ‘process of individuation’ (Stiegler 2001: 249-250).

Deconstruction, pursuing the complex genesis of oppositional pairs, amounts to the elaboration of s process of becoming. It is therefore more consistent than first appearances might indicate with the theories of Gilbert Simondon, for whom the key was not to begin with terms or individuals and then think their ‘relation’; rather, it is the process itself that ‘has the status of being’ (Simondon 1992: 306).

[…]

To this relation of differance to individuation should be added the influence of Nitetzsche, for whom existence must be understood as a play of forces, or, better, of tendencies. The formation of oppositions from prior compositions is an expression of this play of tendencies…

And it may turn out that where compositional thought is superior to deconstructive thought is in making it possible to think de-composition […] Deconstruction thus tends, perhaps, to perceive less clearly the pharmacological dangers of the deconstruction of ‘oppositions’, and the possibility that distinctions may on occasion be precisely what need to be preserved, that is, saved.

Ross, D 2015 “Pharmacology and Critiques after Deconstruction”, in  Howells, C and Moore, G eds. Stiegler and Technics, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 245-246.

Other references:

Simondon, G. 1992 [1964] “The genesis of the individual”, in Crary, J. and Kwinter, S. Eds. Incorporations, Zone, New York.

Stiegler, B. 2001 “Deconstruction and technology: Fidelity at the limits of deconstruction and the prosthesis of faith”, trans. Beardsworth, R,, in Cohen, T. Ed. Jacques Derrida and the Humanities: A Critical Reader, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

New paper (in English) by Bernard Stiegler on Simondon’s Psychic & Collective Individuation

The current issue of Parrhesia, as well as having an interesting paper by Yuk Hui, has a newly translated piece by Bernard Stiegler:

The uncanniness of thought and the metaphysics of penelope‘.

To whet the appetite, here is a rather startling one-liner from the latter part of the article:

The Simondonian theory of psychosocial individuation is to the human sciences and to philosophy what quantum mechanics is to physics (p. 74).

This article originally (in French) appeared in the introduction to Gilbert Simondon’s L’individuation psychique et collective (Paris: Aubier, 2007) [which is the first published part of his doctoral thesis]. Hopefully, the full text of Simondon’s work will follow On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects into English translation, but I am not overly hopeful this will be any time soon.

Interesting paper: Towards a relational materialism by @digital_objects

Yuk Hui (Leuphana), one of the rising stars in the Ars Industrialis / Digital Studies milieu, has an interesting new paper out in the journal Digital Culture & Society. Unfortunately, my university doesn’t offer access but I trust that a version will appear on academia.edu / ResearchGate sometime soon…

Towards a Relational Materialism

Abstract:

This article takes off from what Lyotard calls ‘the immaterial’, demonstrated in the exhibition Les Immatériaux that he curated at the Centre Pompidou in 1985. It aims at outlining a concept of ‘relational materiality’. According to Lyotard, ‘the immaterial’ is not contrary to material: instead, it is a new industrial material brought about by telecommunication technologies, exemplified by Minitel computers, and serves as basis to describe the postmodern condition. Today this materiality is often referred to as ‘the digital’. In order to enter into a dialogue with Lytoard, and to render his notion of ‘immaterial materials’ contemporary, this article contrasts the concept of relational materiality with some current discourses on digital physics (Edward Fredkin, Gregory Chaitin) and digital textuality (Matthew Kirschenbaum). Against the conventional conception that relations are immaterial (neither being a res nor even having a real esse), and also contrary to a substantialist analysis of materiality, this article suggests that a relational materiality is made visible and explicit under digital conditions. It suggests a reconsideration of the ‘relational turn’ in the early 20th century and the concept of concretisation proposed by Gilbert Simondon. The article concludes by returning to Lyotard’s notion of materialism and his vision of a new metaphysics coming out of this ‘immaterial material’, and offers ‘relational materialism’ as a contemporary response.

In relation to this see also the book 30 Years after Les Immatériaux – Art, Science and Theory (Meson Press) – edited by Yuk Hui, with some great chapters on similar themes…

Review of Andrea Bardin’s Epistemology and Political Philosophy in Gilbert Simondon by @benturner91

On the website for the new journal La Deleuziana there’s an interesting review of Andrea Bardin’s Epistemology and Political Philosophy in Gilbert Simondon by Ben Turner.

I’ve not read Bardin’s book but probably should(!)…

Check out the review below:

BEN TURNER REVIEWS BARDIN’S SIMONDON

Andrea Bardin. Epistemology and Political Philosophy in Gilbert Simondon: Individuation, Technics, Social Systems. Dordrecht, Heidelberg, New York, London: Springer, 2014. 251pp. £90.00/€103.99, 978-9401798303.

 Review by Ben Turner (University of Kent, UK)

For the English reader, published works on and by Simondon are out of step. Despite several monographs, journal issues, and an edited collection of essays on his work, translations are severely limited. Given its length, it is productive to assess Bardin’s book with regards to the problem of this absence of primary texts for the English speaking world. In this respect, Bardin has made three achievements. The first is the breadth of primary material that Bardin draws on. Not content with limiting himself to what might be considered the central thesis of Simondon’s work – the relationship between structure and individuation – Bardin makes connections across all of Simondon’s published material, simultaneously charting the transformations in terminology and the continuity of problems across his work. Second, Bardin does not isolate these texts. He situates the problems that Simondon attempted to address in the context of the work he inherited. This context is extensive, covering Simondon’s tutors Georges Canguilhem and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Henri Bergson, the cybernetics of Norbert Wiener, Emile Durkheim and positivism, the anthropologies of Marcel Mauss and Andre Leroi-Gourhan, as well as the physical and biological sciences. Discussion of these influences is woven into three thematic sections: ‘Nature and Knowledge’ (2-66), ‘Organism and Society’ (67-142), and ‘Technicity, Sacredness, and Politics’ (143-241). The last is dedicated to what can be seen to be Bardin’s third contribution. This is an account of Simondon’s politics on their own terms, rather than through the interpretations and re-readings of other authors. This ground has been addressed to some extent by the translation of Muriel Combes’ Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Trans-Individual (2012)1, but without the in depth work on Simondon’s transformation of his influences. I will discuss the success of his connection of Simondon’s work to its scientific and philosophical precursors, and conclude by assessing Bardin’s claim on what a Simondonian politics would consist of.

The scientific developments of importance for Simondon are quantum physics, thermodynamics, and biology read from the perspective of the cybernetic theory of information. Bardin shows that appropriating findings from these realms does not signal scientism, but the use of scientific developments within philosophy in order to fold this advance reflexively upon science itself. The aim of this folding is to complement sciences of structure with one of the processes that constitute individuals within these structures; an analysis of individuation across different domains of being (5-6; 16-17). Structure and process are rendered inextricable, and in an indeterminate relation through the adoption of three scientific concepts. Structures are considered as ‘phase-shifts’, a complex set of simultaneous parallel and divergent processes that make up a system (4). Individuals are defined in reference to transduction, a sequence emerging from a structure that is characterised by indeterminacy (4, 10). Lastly, a system is a ‘metastable’ relationship between a distribution of potentials that make up a structure, and the relationship between these potentials which are determined by an operation that distributes them (6). On this definition, there appears to be a tautological relationship between the terms structure and process. However, this is only apparent: Simondon applies scientific findings to show that they emerge together, transductively in complex processes of individuation, irreducible to structure, mechanism, or determinism (31). The cybernetic theory of information is transformed to complement this combination of structure and operation (a synonym for individuation), splitting the term information into a distinction between itself, and signal. The latter refers to the metastable operation of a system, whereas information is an aleatory interruption which can induce a phase shift, transforming this metastability and causing a new transductive process to emerge (27-31). As a result all systems are opened up to the outside, given the necessity of a piece of information to allow a relationship between structure and operation (73). The metastability between structure and operation traverses different domains of being, the physical, the vital and the psycho-social. The transition from one to another is a transformation of this logic, rather than the emergence of a new one.

Bardin’s summary of Simondon’s complex reading of this scienfic literature is erudite, and he provides a clear presentation of how concepts from physics, biology and cybernetics are used to construct a general understanding of structure and operation. There are three shortcomings that must be flagged up however. First, despite the crucial role they play, non-specialists are left somewhat in the dark as to the original meaning, content and development of these concepts. The re-construction of scientific theory is generally in deferral to Simondon’s usage of a particular concept, rather than their contribution to the field. Bardin’s choice appears to be motivated by fidelity to Simondon’s texts, but the lack of more than a minimal reconstruction of the scientific fields is a barrier to understanding the real innovation of Simondon’s reading. Second, the lasting validity of scientific research used by Simondon leaves one wondering if Simondon’s work could be outdated or outstripped at the scientific level? Lastly, and connected to the previous point, since Simondon’s claim is at heart an epistemological one, the real ramifications for science of a theory of structures and operations is left without conclusions beyond the field of philosophy (61-66). The possibility of a truly ‘ontogenetic’ practice of science is left open. Given the title, Bardin’s book is clearly not aimed at answering these questions. Nevertheless, pertinent questions are made possible not just for the English speaking audience, but all readers of Simondon, which may have been better served by a stronger presentation of the scientific background and contemporary state of affairs in science.

Contrastingly, Simondon’s relation to his philosophical precursors, in particular his tutors Canguilhem and Merleau-Ponty receive an exemplary treatment. Simondon’s extension of their thinking into his own is clearly set against the background of his use of scientific work. The critique of structure in the sciences is simultaneously a critique of hylomorphism in philosophy; the assumption that substance and form can be separated. Simondon assumes the anteriority of the pre-individual, which is not a substance to be formed, but a set of potentials that do not pre-exist individuation temporally, but logically (37). It is never exhausted by any process, accompanying it as latent potential for further transformation by new information. Bardin shows how the pre-individual furthers the work of Merleau-Ponty and Canguilhem. Merleau-Ponty’s lecture course on nature is claimed to influence Simondon here (40-41)2. He radicalises the vision of an unstable, primordial reality with the cybernetic concept of information to restrict the phenomenological assumption of sense to the psychic and collective level of individuation (41-3). The ramifications of such a move are clearly shown by Bardin to differentiate Simondon from phenomenology, without forgetting Simondon’s own debt to phenomenology (43-7).

Bardin shows that from a phenomenological perspective, Simondon’s concept of the pre-individual assumes an understanding of ‘nature’ that seeks to go beyond the horizon of sense that limits thought. Drawing on Canguilhem, Simondon avoids this pitfall, as the pre-individual is not assumed to be a homogenous substance. The dynamic intertwinement of pathology and normativity that Canguilhem uses to define life as error, is applied by Simondon to all individuation (76-7). The pre-individual is not anterior to processes of individuation, but rather emerges as a metastability within a regime of transductive individuation, at the same time as knowledge of these processes. The individual must emerge within a milieu, but this milieu emerges at the same time and in a transductive relation (58-9). This insight is utilised by Simondon to criticise the assumption of the possibility of closure at the level of both vital, and psychic and collective individuation. While structure is important, individuation transforms the pre-individual, animating structure. Canguilhem’s introduction of the intertwinement of normativity and milieu thwarts the closure relied upon by the cybernetic theory of systems, complementing Simondon’s introduction of the signal/information distinction (113-116). Bardin also shows how Simondon moves beyond Canguilhem’s assumption of the exteriority of regulation to the organism, as an individual is always a phase shift in a complex transductive relation between inside and outside, and various domains of being (117-18).

This complex leads to a presentation of a Simondonian politics. This begins from the distinction between open and closed societies, or society and community, that Simondon adopts from Bergson (91-2; 108-9). These two tendencies within psychic and collective individuation refer to its amenability to new forms of individuation (society), and an attempted move towards closure (community) (97-8). The condition of possibility of any group is a transductive relation between transformation and the upkeep of identity. This precludes anthropology imposing itself upon the study of societies from above, because the forms of opening and closure that Simondon describes (belief, work, language) are a phase shift of the relationship between individual and milieu at the vital, non-human level. For example, work is a tendency that exists at the level of the biological community of animals, as a tendency towards closure. At the level of psychic and collective individuation, community phase shifts an existing tension into a new one (101-2). Following the critique of determinism, and the notion of the pre-individual that only exists insofar as it is transformed, these individuations of societies are seen as singularities. The structuring capacities of community and the ways these are opened by society are limited to the process they are involved in. So while structural limits play a role in determining these processes, Bardin demonstrates how Simondon’s assumption of the singularity of process moves him beyond the Structuralist paradigm that was establishing its hegemony in France at the time (158-9).

The first aspect of Simondon’s political thought derives directly from this re-thinking of the epistemological problem of structure and individuation. It can be analysed using an onto-genetic method, investigating the singular processes in which a pre-individual set of potentials is transformed through the tendency towards society, and the way in which these processes are closed in upon themselves by community. Bardin provides the insight that this distinction cannot be mapped onto the ‘political difference’ put forward in recent thought, between ‘politics’ as governance and ‘the political’ as an ontological field of contestation that is both the condition of, and what disrupts politics3. Simondon’s political project is closer to mapping the intersections between these two realms, between communal regulation and societal invention, in accordance with his theory of individuation at physical and biological levels (220-21). There is no political force outside of structure that can be appealed to in and of itself; the political is a mobile concept that must be traced through these processes of individuation.

The second key aspect of Simondon’s political thought is an extra term that must be taken into account in this onto-genetic exploration of the political dynamic between openness and closure. This is the one for which Simondon first became known for: technics. While the dynamic between openness and closure depends upon the first two sections of the book, Bardin devotes extended time to the issue of technics in the last section. This continues the understanding of the political as the product of a mobile relationship between structure and operation, it is technics that structures the norms of community, and simultaneously opens it up to the re-evaluation of these norms by society (136-9). Culture finds its source in technics as the envelope in which social systems encounter the world, founding an external milieu that filters interaction with the environmental milieu (129-30). This includes, as Bardin summarises, distinctions between phase shifts across human history that differentiate the way in which forms of organisation such as magic, the sacred, and religion interact with technics. What makes Bardin’s summary particularly insightful is a balance between showing how these terms (culture, magic, the sacred, technics) transform their meaning within Simondon’s work, and establishing a coherent reading. He claims that that there is a complex intertwinement between environment, biological individuation, psychic and collective individuation enabled by technics, which makes the latter political (148-9, 165). Tracing the individuation of the relationship between invention and regulation in social systems, requires the investigation of how this ontogenetic political dynamic is sutured by technics.

Bardin provides two political strategies that emerge from this understanding of the political. The first is pedagogical. Technics is taken to possess a form of universality that transcends the universals of any individual social system (199). The insertion of technical schemas into social groupings is not taken to be universal in a teleological sense, as it can only determine the transformation of groups under the conditions of relative compatibility and indeterminacy. A pedagogy of the technician would understand and institute technical schemas, not in order to reduce their effects to the logic of identity as the ‘same’, but to allow the potential of technics to render the openness of society and revalue the norms of community. This pedagogy of technics appears as a drive towards a politics of the reflexive understanding of how technics conditions and transforms the cultural milieus in which it emerges and can be placed into (200-202). The second political strategy derives from the ambiguity of the meaning of the political in the paradigm of individuation (232-3). A propensity towards both universality and incalculability is possessed by technics. (226-27). This is, therefore, a form of universality without origin or end, open to aleatory transformations (232-3), rather than immobilisation in the case of the sacred (183-4). Technical universality is therefore the enveloping, transformative, and political potential it has for psychic and collective individuation. According to Bardin, the transformation of scientific concepts and his use of the paradigm of information allows Simondon to put forward this non-technocratic pedagogical politics of technics, for it relies on openness and transformation inherent to processes of individuation (236-7).

Bardin does not make extensive comparison to others use of Simondon’s work (Agamben, Deleuze & Guattari, Stiegler, for example), but he gives a convincing account of Simondon’s politics on its own terms. A mobile concept of the political is derived from the analysis of regimes of individuation, and technics is what intertwines psychic and collective individuation with the physical and the biological. Such a theory that simultaneously provides a mode of analysis of processes, and a politics to navigate them, is crucial today, particular when one considers the most urgent example of our intertwinement with biological and physical forces: climate change. Under the stresses of a rapidly changing relationship between climate and humanity, returning to Simondon’s work can move us beyond a politics that derives its principles from the mere fact of our ‘non-anthropocentric’ entanglement with matter (the worst excesses of new materialism). Instead, it impels us to begin from the necessity of thinking how specific human organisations emerge, and provides a paradigm for studying, and implementing technical strategies to deal with their problematic elements. In this sense, Bardin has made a valuable contribution not just to the study of Simondon, but to research on the relationship between the political and the material, in a way that does not privilege either.


  1. Muriel Combes (2014), Gilbert Simondon and the Philosophy of the Trans-Individual, trans. T. LaMarre, Cambridge: The MIT Press. â†©
  2. Maurice Merleau-Ponty (2000), Nature: Course Notes from the Collège de France, ed. , trans. R. Vallier, Evanston: Northwestern University Press. â†©
  3. Oliver Marchart’s Post-Foundational Political Thought (Edinburgh University Press, 2007) is a key text for analysing many thinkers through this heuristic. â†©

Why so few translations of Simondon?

The politics of a scholar’s work after (or even before!) their death and how one interprets their wishes (often unclearly expressed) is difficult. Likewise, there are plenty of people with ‘vested interests’  in how that work is communicated. This is a particularly thorny issue in translation.

I do not pretend to have any special insight but the following excerpt from an excellent interview conducted by Andrew Iliadis (whose work is very much worth exploring) with Jean-Hughes Barthélémy perhaps offers some clue about why we have seen so little of Simondon’s work translated into English:

Iliadis: You are the editor of Cahiers Simondon. Who else is involved in that project, and do you see it growing? Where is it heading?

Barthélémy: I created the Cahiers Simondon in 2009, thanks to the Maison des Sciences de l’homme de Paris-Nord and the editor Jean-Louis Déotte. My friend and collaborator Vincent Bontems and I decided to establish each year a selection of papers, among them those that were presented at the Atelier Simondon, derived by Vincent at the École Normale Supérieure. But some papers come from proposals that are external to the Atelier Simondon. Sometimes, I have to translate – or at least to correct –the papers in the French version. My criterium for the selection is only the seriousness of the work of exegesis, and that’s why it is difficult, each year to have enough papers. Interest in Simondon is really growing in the world, but the seriousness of Simondon’s studies is still a dream. Young researchers that are not French get an excuse: there is no English translation of Simondon’s books, and some partial translations are quite wrong. I must add that when I worked with Arne De Boever, I corrected the American translation of L’individuation psychique et collective–I spent many hours on this passionate and voluntary work. But Nathalie Simondon asked the editor to publish the entire text of L’individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et d’information. Therefore, I have no news concerning the translation of L’individu et sa genèse physico- biologique. I just know that this part of the main thesis is the most difficult: its translation into English needs one or two philosophers of science that are also specialists on Simondon! Now, about the current translation of Du mode d’existence des objets techniques: here again, the information we have had does not make us optimistic.

It is tempting to see a kind of intellectual policing going on here, but I simply do not know the institutional and legal contexts of what Barthélémy is saying… Nevertheless it is tremendously sad (and rather frustrating) that it appears likely that Anglophone scholars will have to wait some time before they have access to an ‘approved’/ published translation of Simondon’s major work(s): L’individuation à la lumière des notions de forme et d’information.

I am given to understand that The Mode of Existence of Technical Objects (Du mode d’existence des objets techniques) will be published by Univocial, which is associated with University of Minnesota Press, at some time in the latter part of 2015. I have also heard that another of Simondon’s lecture courses will be translated and published by Univocal, I do not know the likely time-frame.

I welcome any clarifications or comments from those ‘in the know’…