Images of the Future
Anticipating, Fabulating and Inventing with Bergson and Simondon
Keywords:Philosophy of Time, Philosophy of Technology, Philosophy of Life, Henri Bergson, Gilbert Simondon, French Epistemology
This article analyzes the conceptions of anticipation and invention in the philosophies of Henri Bergson and Gilbert Simondon. In doing so, I analyze the questions how futures are anticipated and what role technologies play in the anticipation and invention of the future. Technologies are increasingly used to predict, prescribe and control behavior. These technologies are based upon the ontological belief that reality is computable and predictable. With Bergson and Simondon, I aim to show that this ontology does not take the temporal structure and the anticipatory faculty of living beings into account. Anticipation is an essential activity of a living being in its milieu. In order to survive, living beings structure their milieu to make their future actions reliable. Images are central to this process. They are constantly evoked by and with practices. They are transformed and used to anticipate and imagine the future. Yet, these images are affectively charged and can be an expression of what Bergson calls “myth-making function” (fonction fabulatrice). While Bergson describes this function as a positive force, one can ask whether this force turns against itself in face of our contemporary climate crisis, digital technologies and the crisis of open democracies. An alternative is to understand and to construct technical objects as essentially open in analogy to the living being. This implies a conception of the human not as a fixed conception, but as an “open adventure” (Simondon 2016: 121)that constantly re-invents itself in relation with nature and technology.
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