Quick Disclaimer, explanation and thank you:
Only want to make others aware, those unfamiliar with the website and, in particular, with the online discussions (on the forum) vs the Zoom conversations, that anything listed in the threads before the conversation needn’t necessarily be brought into the Zoom conversation. To bring our discussion here into this evening’s discussion, in my opinion, could potentially “infect” the conversation with a preconceived directionality, and this would not be fair to others, especially those that do not participate in the conversations. With that said…I love this discussion right now!
I will speak only for myself: I have read Heidegger’s essay (twice now!), Banerji’s article listed above nearly twice, and listened, thought about, dreamt upon the topic at hand. Yet, being in perpetual catch-up mode with my own mind along with the readings, and, being a novice to philosophical and, well, any discussion, I am unable to discuss at any length with any coherence. We do not have a group like “Bay Area Heideggerians” meeting here in Kentucky any time soon, so I seek my intellectual stimulus here. We are all teachers and students (or both, neither or something else) and welcome thoughtful conversations. “Infinite Conversations is a forum dedicated to cooperative dialogue among intellectual peers.”
I originally posted this question of technology in relation to Aurobindo’s thought (among other questions) to seek confirmation of what I read, where my thoughts travel when reading such material, etc. As a whole, the group can be seen as bringing in our own expertise, some from the field of science, or from spirituality, or from historical analysis; some with a deep knowledge of particular thinkers, some with an endless list of “yeah-I’ve-read-that; you-might-like” responses. Overall, we greatly appreciate the meta-reflexive infusion of various thoughts, thinkers, threads into some sort of cohesion. I personally find this site as a safe place for a nervous novice like me to release my untamed thoughts into the cyber-wilderness after having been caged for an entire lifespan; I need a guide to help me acclimate to this wild new world of intellectual thought. Your contributions are quite welcome here @fmdolan and, now speaking for all, an impertinent tone has not been uttered in your writing, and we (I) thank you kindly for continuing this discussion. If technology allowed, we might be inclined to clone you…how’s that for questioning our Being?!
“God is near,
Yet hard to sieze.
Where there is danger,
The rescue grows as well.”
–opening lines of Hölderlin’s Patmos (translation here)
(“Where there is danger/The rescue grows as well.” (often?) translated as “But where danger is, grows/The saving power also.” in Heidegger’s essay)
I do not know if the reading that follows will answer any questions, or comment directly upon the comments above, but it does add some substance and connective tissue to the discussion.
From Banerji's closing remarks "Utopia or Dystopia?" in "Individuation, Cosmogenesis and Technology: Sri Aurobindo and Gilbert Simondon"
Is this the inexorable future utopia towards which global humanity is moving today with its p2p smart phones and other networked digital prosthetics and bionics? Is the experience of ‘being conscious of the whole world at the same time’, announced by the Mother as the distant goal of an arduous spiritual development just a form of cheap purchase universally bestowed upon humanity through the transindividuation of technology? Was Heidegger’s ontological subjection by the new mode of Being’s disclosure through technology, seen as modernity’s episteme, but a mistaken identiﬁcation of a passing phase for the noons of the future?
Simondon’s brilliance has been acknowledged by many major thinkers of his and our times. One of his greatest contemporaries, who reviewed his thesis with unreserved praise and borrowed heavily from him in his own work, was Gilles Deleuze, and one of the great philosophers of our times, who continues to be indebted to him and thinks using his concepts of psychic and collective individuation, is Bernard Stiegler. Writing in the 1980s, Deleuze, in his Postscript to Societies of Control, warns about the mutations of capital from the industrial to the postindustrial age. If the ubiquitous presence of the machine extended an era of biopolitics related to the disciplining of human bodies in keeping with the needs of industry in the age of thermodynamic machines, o**ur age of information processing sees a new kind of subjection. The miniaturization and invisibility of the machine hides its versatile and ﬂexible control over human lives. The enhanced ﬂexibility of work and movement, increased plethora of choices and extended reach over time and space present a commodiﬁed freedom and happiness, within which capital controls human lives, denying true creative engagement with preindividual being, which would make possible new individuations. Similarly, in our own times, Bernard Stigler has warned about real-time corporate and governmental proﬁling and targeting, fragmentation of subjectivity through chronic technologies of attention capture and the remaking of public memories through mnemo-technics.**
What Simondon saw as the promise of a new utopian phase of human–machine transduction/ transindividuation leading to an individual and collective cosmogenesis is not a given that will arise automatically through the press of new buttons. Simondon was not oblivious to these dangers. The transindividuation of humans and their co-individuation with machines could move, in his opinion, towards the fulﬁlment of its positive possibilities, only following the break from conditioning, the habitual structures of the ‘inter-individual’ and the emergence of individuating personal agency. In asserting this, Simondon aligns himself with Nietzsche, drawing on the latter’s rendition of Zarathustra, the prophet who extricates himself from his entanglement with the crowd that has embraced mediocrity, devoid of aspiration, through a period of isolation and silence. This asceticism and the related parable of the funambulist lays the ground for the conditions of subjective agency towards transindividuation, a preparation not dissimilar from that enunciated by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, drawing on the traditions of yoga for their own purposes of planetary unity. Moreover, as articulated by the prophet at the end of the parable, what is further required is the need for a milieu of like individuals available and ready for transindividuation, collective conditions requiring a wresting of the individual from the ubiquitous co-optation of global capital, analogous to the call given by Heidegger in his analysis of modern technology.
Looking at the yoga of Sri Aurobindo, the arduous subjective disciplines necessary for ‘the triple transformation’ also need a milieu dedicated to inner development for its habitus, something less and less possible in our present age globally networked for corporate interests of production, seduction and consumption. Yet, to speak about an expansion or integration of consciousness without recourse to an engagement with technology is a romanticism that wills its self-exile and eventual obsolescence in the face of a globalizing technical milieu. New experimental collective environments are required for the development of subjective technologies (technics) freed from conditioning and rendered creative to co-individuate alongside distributed ensembles of information processing. Simondon’s techno-aesthetic milieu and Sri Aurobindo’s expansion of consciousness through yoga need creative engagement with a world culture made available through new forms of McLuhan’s ‘global village’ dedicated to perpetual cosmogenetic individuation. In this regard, it may be noted that McLuhan’s play with the quasi-agency of media—‘the media is the message/massage’—opens the bivalent potentia of technology theorized by Simondon. As the ‘massage’, technological media make us over, subjecting us to the technocapitalist Empire, but as the ‘message’, technical objects are themselves the content mediating transindividuation. For this, enhanced subjective disciplines of psychisization and cosmisization as per Sri Aurobindo, or psychic and collective individuation as per Simondon, moving towards the self-making of new subjects ‘conscious of the whole world at the same time’ must arise as the subjective correlate of co-individuating technical ensembles under experimental conditions of the collective life. This is the promise of the future but it needs relational posthuman agency and a subjectivity that can measure itself against the objective materialization of the cosmos in the form of global technology.
(Click the arrow above to reveal “hidden” text; note: bold/italicized phrases in Baneji’s text are mine)
"what is further required is the need for a milieu of like individuals available and ready for transindividuation, collective conditions requiring a wresting of the individual from the ubiquitous co-optation of global capital, analogous to the call given by Heidegger in his analysis of modern technology. " – I think this phrase sums up what we often experience here on Infinite Conversations, in the communities that @Don_Salmon mentioned in a previous discussion (of how Asheville, NC and other communities are “awakening” and producing "like individuals available and ready for transindividuation) and in various other locals, whether online or physically tangible. Guess we just need to keep going…