MAJEURE : Philosophie de la biologie
ENTRE DARWINISME ET BIOPOLITIQUE, LE NATURALISME EN CHANTIER
By JOHN SYMONS.
In this interview, Symons discusses the scope and character of philosophy of biology, including some reflections on the political implications of biological developments. Topics addressed include the nature of biological knowledge; the status of reductionism; and contemporary discussions of Darwinism, biotechnology and cloning.
LA CATÉGORIE D’« ORGANISME » DANS LA PHILOSOPHIE DE LA BIOLOGIE : RETOUR SUR LES DANGERS DU RÉDUCTIONNISME
By CHARLES WOLF
The category of« organism » has an ambiguous status: scientific or philosophical? In any case, it has long served as a kind of scientific « bolstering » for a philosophical train of argument which seeks to refute the « mechanistic » or « reductionist » trend, which is seen as dominant since the 17th century, whether in the case of Stahlian animism, Leibnizian monadology, the neo-vitalism of Hans Driesch, or, lastly, of the « phenomenology of organic life » in the 20th century, with authors such as Goldstein, Straws, and Weizsäcker, whose influence on Merleau-Ponty but also Canguilhem is obvious. The aim of this article is both to bring to light the sedimentation of this category and to give a critical evaluation of it, in other words, to sec in what way it might still be useful once one has eliminated the possibility of any « organicist » excesses. I suggest a notion of organism as an instrumental fiction.
1064332 ATOMES ET UN CERCLE DE VIE
By ALEXANDRE MÉTRAUX.
The article addresses the old question of vitalism, starting with a very concrete and recent example: the successful laboratory production of the polio virus. Following this, the author recalls two types of arguments on the nature of living being: those of Leibniz and those of Claude Bernard. If, according to the biologists who produced the virus themselves, life’s unique trait is self-replication, what should one make of the dominant position in philosophy of biology today, which denies any argument based on the substantial attribution of properties to living being? The essay concludes by suggesting a new way of acknowledging the specificity of life without turning it into a metaphysical property; a way which emphasizes the import of the philosophy of biology itself.
DARWIN RÉVOLUTIONNAIRE? : UNE LECTURE POLITIQUE DE DENNETT
By MATHIEU AURY
What may we learn about the life of human beings with Evolutionary Biology? In order to answer this question, without taking a distrustful (yet justified) stance, I think that Daniel Dennett’s evolutionary cognitivism and Foucault s archaeological approach are not unreconciliable but complementary traditions. Indeed, Derrnett’s originality, thanks to his interpretation of the Baldwin Effect and his thesis of Self as a Narrative Center of Gravity, manages to present the human being’s world as the living fulfilment (so plainly explainable by the rules of evolution) of a set of historical products, without giving up the properly creative dimension of the individual (all the more creative since he can be, alas!, controlled). In this way, devices of domination and processes of « subjectivisation » belong to the broader transfornzative process (or fate — the Heraclitean gignesthai) of the evolution of life on Earth. In return, Dennett s philosophy, rightfully careful when it comes to political questions, should be complemented by a critical analysis.
SOMAPHORE ET CORPS BIOSUBJECTIF
By BERNARD ANDRIEU
Bodily modification is against the theory of substance. A new perspective involves the possibility of defining identity by using biotechnology like a bio-design, or biology as a technology of the self.
LA SÉLECTION NATURELLE À L’INTÉRIEUR DE L’ORGANISME
By JEAN-JACQUES KUPIEC
The mechanisms of Darwinian theory applied at the cellular level can explain the embryogenesis of an organism. On the one hand, DNA is not the bearer or carrier of a program composed of rigid instructions, in which the adult organism is « written », in advance. It is a generator of diversity that functions in a probabilistic fashion and thus enables cells to change states without being guided by signals. On the other hand, the environment is not only that which is external to the organism. It exists within the embryo inasmuch as it constitutes the micro-environment of the cell. It determines the concentration of metabolites to which the cell has access and which enable it to multiply. In a colony of cells there are numerous variations in the composition of this microenvironment. Cells exchange the products of their metabolism. They use what their neighbours provide them. By means of their probabilistic functioning, they adapt to changing life conditions by activating the necessary proteins, whence the cellular differentiation generating the tissue of which an adult being is composed. In this theory, the embryo is not the passive object subject to the cumulative determinisms of the genome and the environment. These are integrated into a single mechanism. The cell is the fundamental level which constructs the living being by an active process of Darwinian selection. By bringing together phylogeness and ontogenesis in one explanatory model, cellular Darwinism allows us to get rid of the old concepts of purposiveness and formal cause which genetics has rehabilitated in the new clothing of the « generic program ».
L’ÉPISTÉMOLOGUE ET LA COMPLEXITÉ DU VIVANT. COMPTE RENDU DE L’OUVRAGE DE FRANÇOIS DUCHESNEAU, PHILOSOPHIE DE LA BIOLOGIE
By TIMO KAITARO
The progresses and successes of molecular biology appear to confirm the views of those who hold that biology is reducible to the sciences of physical nature. François Duchesneau’s analysis of various models and attempts at reduction that have been put forth to eliminate the specificity of the phenomena of organic life, shows that things are far from being so simple. Teleological notions seem irreducible to subjacent causal mechanisms, and functional explanations are apparently indispensable in the life sciences. But the discussions analyzed by Duchesneau show that allowing for the irreducibility and the necessity of functional analyses in the life sciences does riot amount thereby to any vitalism. The aim is simply to analyze the structure and epistemological profile of biological theories, instead of providing a rational reconstruction thereof, in conformity with the positivistic prejudice that biological explanations had to be deduced front the laws of physical nature. Of course, this implies paying attention to the manner in which biologists did indeed construct their concepts and their theories. Now, in analyzing recent developments in English-language philosophy of biology, Duchesneau shows how the increasing dialogue between philosophy and the history of science in this tradition is useful. I believe that these English-language discussion are in fact coming closer to the French tradition represented by authors such as Georges Canguilhem or Jacques Roger, even though in France, as Duchesneau observes, the two disciplines appear to be moving further apart. This would be a shame, given that this tradition appears to be quite fruitful in its epistemological perspectives.
STOPUB : ANALYSE PROVISOIRE D’UN RHIZOME ACTIVISTE
By ANDRÉ GATTOLIN &THIERRY LEFEBVRE
Since its appearance in October 2003, the informal collective Stopub has launched a series of spectacular attacks against advertisement boards in the Metro, generating a backlash in turn of police and legal harassment. In the context of our research into new forms of political commitment, tee have sought to understand the origins and main features of this shadowy group, which same observers consider, perhaps wrongly, to be a new form of militant anti-globalization. Stopub, which is mostly made up of young « disobedients » looking for new forms of radical action, points to the emergence of further forms of activism in the near future, due to its profoundly rhizomatic stature.
MINEURE : Jazz : puissance de l’improvisation collective
L’UTOPIE JAZZ ENTRE GRATUITÉ ET LIBERTÉ
By YVES CITTON
This article explores the intersection between freedom-liberty and freedom-gratuity in the practices filed under the heading «free jazz ». In light of the exemplary trajectory of Ken Vandermark, it analyses the space of freedom opened up by US college radios for the dissemination of improvised music. It then sketches the socio-political model implicitly projected by this unique form of interactive invention taking place within the collective of a jazz band, an interactive invention which dissolves the very notion of authorship. Rejecting the traditional binary opposition between constraint and freedom, calling for an approach conceived in terms of pressure (im-pression / ex-pression), the utopia of jazz invites us to reflect upon the type of structures most conducive to the autoproduction of singularities.
LE CHAMP JAZZISTIQUE SELON ALEXANDRE PIERREPONT
By LABRASSERIE DESCATINS
In his book, Le champ jazzistique, Alexandre Pierrepont denounces the prevalent gesture, among jazz theorists, consisting in finding a « common denominator » unifying the various practices juxtaposed under the label « jazz ». It is instead into the very multiplicity of these practices that we must look in order to uncover the constitutive power of jazz, a power both to combine and to individualize. By reinventing a continuum over the abyss of their historical trauma, African-American musicians (and those who are inspired by there) are providing mankind with a uniquely empowering way to fight the cultural vacuum that plagues our age. They also lead us to question who or what speaks when we open our mouth… Hence the polyphonic form of this article, in which some of Alexandre Pierrepont’s directing ideas echollapse with Diderot’s dialogues or Novarina’s machines.
ÉCHOS D’UN JAZZ LIBRE D’AMÉRIQUE
By TIM BERNE, JIM BLACK, AMY DENIO, ELLERY ESKELIN, GERRY HEMINGWAY, KEN VANDERMARK
This article collects responses provided by six American jazz (wo)men (Tim Berne, Jim Black, Amy Denio, Ellery Eskelin, Gerry Hemingway, Ken Vandermark) on issues ranging from the relations improvised music establishes with its audience, to copyrights and the conditions of economic survival to be invented in a creative domain virtually deprived of any institutional support. The way these musicians face the precariousness of their creative activity, in the context of today’s American society, projects them as futuristic hybrids between guerilleros, grassroot activists, and small business developers. From their infinitesimal practices and from their pragmatic reflections, one cart trace the emergence of modes of operation, frustrations, projects and energies which carry simultaneously today’s fears and tomorrow’s hopes.
LE PATIENT TISSAGE D’UN RÉSEAU AUTONOME
By BENOÎT DELBECQ
Benoit Delbecq reflects upon the conditions under which his creative activity, as a pianist, a composer and an improviser, has to take place within the French context. Status of the copyrights, contribution of public funding, new modes of distribution, ambiguous irruptions of the show business mega-machine, fictions of freedom generated within the creative moment, polymorphous collective structures: this concrete work of knitting a new autonomous artistic network sheds light, beyond the microcosm of jazz, on the production of sociality in today’s France.
By CHRISTOPHE DEGOUTIN ET YVES CITTON.
This section collects a few references to CDs, books and websites that could provide a first access to the musical domains discussed in the previous articles, with an emphasis on the production of the last 15 years.
L’ÉTAT D’EXCEPTION : FORME DE GOUVERNEMENT DE L’EMPIRE?
By JEAN CLAUDE PAYE
The war against terrorism enables the implementation of techniques of exception at all stages of judicial proceedings in criminal cases, front the initiation of a lawsuit to the verdict. It thus puts into question the constitutional mechanisms intended for the protection of privacy. The type of incrimination specific w the accusation of terrorism has created a specifically political crime, i.e., the intention to exert art inappropriate form of pressure on a government or an international organization. It serves as the means for a preventive attack on any process of class recomposition. We thus are witnessing a suspension of the law, which is paradoxically inscribed within the law and belongs to a new legal or juridical order. This amounts to the end of the twofold dimension of the Western legal system as we have known it, namely, the separation between rule of law within and pure violence on the external level. The present imperial organization knowns no externality pure violence has been reinserted at its heart and now belongs to the rule of law. Hence the State of exception as the form of government of the Empire appears above all to be a transitional phase, a tool in the process of installing a more stable form: dictatorship. The end of the formal separation of powers as well as the legal prerogatives appropriated by the executive branch show that this process is well underway.
DESCARTES POLITIQUE : MOLLOY DANS LA FORÊT (SUR LE LIVRE D’ANTONIA BIRNBAUM, LE VERTIGE D’UNE PENSÉE. DESCARTES CORPS ET ÂME)
By YOSHIHIKO ICHIDA.
Not turned upside down, as Marx did to Hegel, but « inverted » by the mere contact with speaking beings, the Cartesian order of reasons becomes, according to Antonia Birnbaum, a device which generates both the subject and its environment, all at once, determining them as elements of the political – which has however already become « accidental » due to this invention, which exposes the speaking being to the world, and confronts it with the haecceity of the event. Cartesian « politics » thus takes place in the forest, the privileged figure of the philosopher and the sign of the absence of any orientation, the truth of which Antonia Birnbaum tends to identify in and through Beckett s Molloy: far from being an (im)possible community, it is full of « good things ».
POLITIQUE DE LA PUISSANCE, POLITIQUE DU CAPITAL. SUR LE LIVRE DE FRÉDÉRIC LORDON LA POLITIQUE DU CAPITAL
By SAVERIO ANSALDI.
The theory of the conatus is a major presupposition of Spinozist philosophy. The principles and concepts involved therein are well known to specialists and interpreters of Spinoza’s philosophy, but unndoubtedly are much less well known or used by economists and sociologists. In his book La politique du capital, Frédéric Lordon, an economist, uses the principles of Spinoza’s theory of the conatus to interpret a financial event and attempt to derive from it the analytic criteria which are necessary to understand it. Which financial event is this? The conflict that opposed the BNP to the Société Générale and Paribas, from January to August 1999. What does this series of events imply for French capitalism ? What are the laws and principle governing the financial struggle for the control of banks I Why does he speak, regarding such events, of a « politics of capital » ? As he tries to answer these questions, Lordon shows that the relations between the « subjects,) of capital are not founded on a « pure economic nature » but rather, more profoundly, on a dynamics of power making use of relations that are « mediated by mercantile exchange ». The politics of capital then turns out to be, in essence, a matter of « sovereignty », that is, a necessity of persevering in its being in the midst of the confrontation with the power of another. What is at stake in this conflict is nothing other than the « life » or better, the « survival » of capital.
EXTRAITS DE LA LISTE MULTITUDES-INFOS. PALESTINE-ISRAEL
The Multitudes-Infos e-list regularly prints dispatches on the situation in Palestine / Israel. Many people have indicated their interest in these chronicles, which gave us the idea of disseminating some of them in the journal. The excerpts from selected texts discuss an issue at the heart of the conditions for peace: the Wall built by Israel, and the Geneva Agreement. We have added to this some analyses of Israeli society by Israeli opposition figures.