Autonomy and Modularity

  Autonomous systems of the kind that we can conceive as emerging from our technology are liable to be modular assemblages of elements that can couple opportunistically with other entities or systems, creating new assemblages whose powers and dispositions are transformed and dynamically put into play by such couplings. The best way of representing modularity […]

Posthuman Ecology

Work is being produced at the interface of the bioscience, plastic and visual art, architecture and philosophy that reimagines ecology as a technique of relational technogenesis rather than as the search for a pre-lapsarian presence or balance. Practitioners of this speculative engineering frequently employ Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the assemblage and Haraway’s figure of […]

Assemblages: Downward Causation and Upwards Dependence

According to Manuel Delanda an assemblage such as an organism or an economic system is an emergent but decomposable whole. Unlike a totality, an assemblage’s parts can follow independent careers: Pulling out a live animal’s heart will surely kill it but the heart itself can be implanted into another animal and resume its regular function. […]

Remarks on Delanda on the Virtual

  Gilles Deleuze famously replaces the traditional modal distinction between actuality and possibility with a distinction between actuality and virtuality. This is introduced to block the claim that reality can be fully or adequately represented. If the actual is just the instantiation of the possible, then an actual thing resembles the thing as conceived or […]

Excision Ethos

A flat ontology would allow emergent discontinuities between the human and non-human. Here we understand radical differences between humans and non-humans as emergent relations of continuity or discontinuity between populations, or other such particulars, rather than kinds or abstract universals.[1][2] The most widely accepted definition of emergence holds that an emergent phenomenon P cannot be […]

Flat Ontology II: a worry about emergence

Summary: if you want to distinguish assemblages from aggregates in a flat ontology you need a metaphysics of emergence. But real emergence may not work unless we deny that parts of assemblages are separate from the whole. This seems to undermine the point of assemblages where, it is said, the parts are logically exterior from […]

Thoughts on Flat Ontology

The term ‘flat ontology’ was coined by Manuel DeLanda in his book Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy. Flat ontologies are opposed there to hierarchical ontologies in which the structure and evolution of reality is explained by transcendent organizing principles such essences, organizing categories or natural state.