Imagination and Invention

2022
Author:

Gilbert Simondon
Translated by Joe Hughes and Christophe Wall-Romana

A radical rethinking of the theory and the experience of mental images

Here, in English translation for the first time, is Gilbert Simondon’s fundamental reconception of the mental image and the theory of imagination and invention. Drawing on a vast range of mid-twentieth-century theoretical resources, this book provides a comprehensive account of the mental image and adds a vital new dimension to the theory of psychical individuation in Simondon’s earlier, highly influential work.

Here, in English translation for the first time, is Gilbert Simondon’s fundamental reconception of the mental image and the theory of imagination and invention. Drawing on a vast range of mid-twentieth-century theoretical resources—from experimental psychology, cybernetics, and ethology to the phenomenological reflections of Sartre and Merleau-Ponty—Imagination and Invention provides a comprehensive account of the mental image and adds a vital new dimension to the theory of psychical individuation in Simondon’s earlier, highly influential work.

Simondon traces the development of the mental image through four phases: first a bundle of motor anticipations, the image becomes a cognitive system that mediates the organism’s relation to its milieu, then a symbolic and abstract integration of motor and affective experience to, finally, invention, a solution to a problem of life that requires the externalization of the mental image and the creation of a technical object. An image cannot be understood from the perspective of one phase alone, he argues, but only within the trajectory of its progressive metamorphosis.

Gilbert Simondon (1924–1989) was a French philosopher of technology whose work continues to attract new interest within a variety of academic fields. His books in English translation include Individuation in Light of Notions of Form and Information, Volumes 1 and 2, and On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects (all from Minnesota).

Christophe Wall-Romana is professor and Samuel Russell Chair in the Humanities at the University of Minnesota.

Joe Hughes is senior lecturer in English and Theater Studies at the University of Melbourne.

Contents

Preface: A Theory of the Image in Light of the Notion of Invention, a Theory of Invention in Light of the Notion of the Image

Jean-Yves Chateau

Imagination and Invention

Preamble

Introduction

A. The Image as Intermediary Reality between Object and Subject, Concrete and Abstract, Past and Future

1. Object and Subject

2. Concrete and Abstract

3. Past and Future

B. The Hypothesis of the Genetic Dynamism of the Image: Phases and Levels

C. The Fields of Application of the Notion of Genetic Cycle of the Image; the Image Exterior to the Individual

1. Synchronization with the Circadian Rhythm

2. Life as Cycle of the Genesis of Images

3. Imagination and the Seasons

4. The Cycle of Images and the Becoming of Civilizations

Part I. The Motor Content of Images: The Image Prior to the Experience of the Object

A. Biological Givens: How Motricity Precedes Sensoriality

1. The Phylogenetic Aspect: The Development of Motricity Precedes that of Sensoriality; Virtualization

2. The Action System as Ontogenetic Basis of Motor Images

3. Hereditary Coordinations of Actions in Motor Images

4. Spontaneity of Motor Anticipations during Ontogenesis

5. Motor Images and Imitation: Phenomena of Sympathetic Induction

6. Inherence of Motor Images in the Body Schema

B. Images in States of Expectation and Anticipation

1. Phobias and Compulsive Exaggerations: The Amplifying Character of States of Expectation

2. Particular Aspects of Images in a State of Fear; Doubling

3. The Image in Positive States of Expectation

4. Anticipation Images in Mixed States: The Marvelous as Category of Mixed Anticipation

C. Intuition as Pure a priori Image, Principle of Reflective Knowledge

1. The Projection Schema in Platonism; the Role of Intuition

2. Procession and Conversion

3. The Intuition of the Moving and the Knowledge of Creative Evolution

Part II. The Cognitive Content of Images: Image and Perception

A. Biological Givens of Perceptual Functions

1. Primary Biological Categories and Secondary Psychical Categories: The Role of the Milieu Organized as Territory

2. The Image as Immediate Anticipation in the Identification of the Object: Image and Concept

3. The Particular Characters of Images in Instinctual Perceptions Depending on Species: Social Aspects

4. The Role of the Intra-perceptual Image in Choice; Victimology and Depth Psychology

B. The Role of the Intra-perceptual Image in Information Gathering

1. The Role of the Intra-perceptual Image in Object Identification: Perceptual Constancy and Adaptation

2. The Image in Differential Perception

3. The Role of the Image in Adaptation to Change: Perception of Derivation

C. The Intra-perceptual Image in the Perception of Shapes: Geometrical Images

1. Subjective Contour and Associated Image

2. Reversibilities

3. The Image as Singularity or Privileged System of Perceptual Compatibility among Orders of Magnitude

a. Singularities Are More Pregnant Than Regularities

b. Geometrical Shapes May Become Pregnant through Their Mutual Relationships

c. The Intra-perceptual Image Is the Style Common to Texture and Configuration

Part III. The Affective-Emotional Content of Images: The a posteriori Image, or Symbol

A. The Level of Elementary Conditionings: Prägung and Critical Periods

1. Imprinting (Prägung, Prégnation)

2. The Human Aspects of Elementary Conditionings

3. Images of the Object

B. The Level of Psychic Processes: The Mental Image, the Symbol

1. The Consecutive Image

2. Immediate Images and Eidetic Images

3. Memory-Images; Notion of a Reproductive Imagination; “Imaginative Types”; Generic Images

C. The Imaginary as Organized World; Effigies and Symbol-Objects

1. The Notion of the Imago; In What Way the Imago Is a Symbol

2. The Symbol-Object

Part IV. Invention

A. Elementary Invention; The Role of Free Activity in the Discovery of Mediations

1. The Different Species of Compatibility; Detour, an Elementary Behavior

2. Instrumental Mediation

3. The Properties Common to Detour and Instrumental Mediation

B. Invention concerning Signs and Symbols

1. Objective Metrological Formalization: From Technics to Science

2. Subjective Formalizations (Normative and Artistic)

3. Processes of Amplification in Formalization

C. Invention as the Production of a Created Object or of a Work

1. The Creation of Technical Objects

2. Other Categories of Created Objects, in Particular, the Aesthetic Object

Conclusion

Recapitulation

Implications of the Present Proposal

Notes

Bibliography

Purchase

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