Monday, 9 September 2013
In the theoretical domain as in the ethical domain, technics are concerned with the element. In the sciences the contribution of technics consisted in making possible a representation of phenomena one by one by breaking them down into simple elementary processes similar to the operations of technical objects; such is the role of the mechanistic hypothesis that enabled Descartes to represent the rainbow as an overall result of the point by point trajectory taken by each luminous corpuscle in each drop of rain in a cloud; and it was also according to the same method that Descartes describes the functioning of the heart by breaking down a complete cycle into simple successive operations and showing that the functioning of the whole is the result of the play of elements necessitated by their particular disposition (for example, that of each valve). Descartes does not ask himself why the heart is made in this way, with valves and cavities, but how it works given how it is made. The application of schemas drawn from technics does not account for the existence of the totality, taken as a unity, but does account for the point by point and instant by instant functioning of that totality.
422 Gilbert Simondon On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects