Individuation and scientific thinking : Simondon’s philosophy of transduction

Hewlett, Fergus (2021) Individuation and scientific thinking : Simondon’s philosophy of transduction. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis explores the ways in which Simondon’s transductive ontology both engages with and is made possible by natural scientific thinking. It is argued that Simondon’s conception of transduction signals the necessity for an engagement between ontology and contemporary science and makes a number of significant contributions to this task - in particular, regarding his conceptions of energy and relation. In part, we attempt to demonstrate and defend his philosophy of transduction as a fruitful engagement with natural science, whilst equally it is argued that a number of aspects of this relationship are problematic. The general and guiding problem of this thesis is the possibility of an ontology in light of contemporary scientific thinking and discovery. Simondon’s conception of transductive individuation is a significant attempt in this regard, as it rethinks ontology and individuation in light of theories, concepts and descriptions derived from contemporary science. This thesis attempts to situate Simondon’s ontology relative to direct influences on his work and texts from the scientific and philosophical context in which he was writing. Close attention is paid to his engagements with the science of energy, concepts of relation in twentieth-century biology, epistemology and ontology, and cybernetic articulations of homeostasis and information. In this way, we equally contend that scientific thinking is not of mere conceptual inspiration for transduction, but instead offers ontological descriptions on which Simondon’s ontology rests. As the argument progresses, problematic or unthought aspects of the relationship between transduction and scientific thinking are emphasised. Discussing Simondon’s thought in light of that of Bergson and Deleuze, we emphasise and problematise the differences between their expressions of singularity and their relationships to scientific thinking. The primary problem, in this regard, has to do with the priority and nature of scientific thinking: if thought comes first, constituting and confirming Simondon’s transductive philosophy and Deleuze’s ontology of difference, then it may also constrain individuation or creativity to scientific concepts. Equally, if scientific thought is developing through a process of error and rectification, then it may not be the stable foundation articulated and required by ontologies such as those of Simondon and Deleuze.

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