Machine and Sovereignty

For a Planetary Thinking

2024
Author:

Yuk Hui

Developing a new political thought to address today’s planetary crises

Machine and Sovereignty offers a future-oriented mode of political thought that encompasses the unprecedented global challenges we are confronting: the rise of artificial intelligence, the ecological crisis, and intensifying geopolitical conflicts. Arguing that a new approach to planetary thinking is urgently needed, Yuk Hui presents new epistemological and technological frameworks for understanding and rising to the crises of our present and our future.

What is “planetary thinking” today? Arguing that a new approach is urgently needed, Yuk Hui develops a future-oriented mode of political thought that encompasses the unprecedented global challenges we are confronting: the rise of artificial intelligence, the ecological crisis, and intensifying geopolitical conflicts.

Machine and Sovereignty starts with three premises. The first affirms the necessity of developing a new language of coexistence that surpasses the limits of nation-states and their variations; the second recognizes that political forms, including the polis, empire, and the state, are technological phenomena, which Lewis Mumford terms “megamachines.” The third suggests that a particular political form is legitimated and rationalized by a corresponding political epistemology. The planetary thinking that this book sketches departs from the opposition between mechanism and organism, which characterized modern thought, to understand the epistemological foundations of Hegel’s political state and Carl Schmitt’s Großraum and their particular ways of conceiving the question of sovereignty. Through this reconstruction, Hui exposes the limits of the state and reflects on a new theoretical matrix based on the interrelated concepts of biodiversity, noodiversity, and technodiversity.

Arguing that we are facing the limit of modernity, of the eschatological view of history, of globalization, and of the human, Hui conceives necessary new epistemological and technological frameworks for understanding and rising to the crises of our present and our future.

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Yuk Hui is professor of philosophy at Erasmus University Rotterdam and professor at City University of Hong Kong. He is author of Art and Cosmotechnics; Recursivity and Contingency; The Question Concerning Technology in China: An Essay in Cosmotechnics; and On the Existence of Digital Objects (Minnesota, 2016).

Contents

Preface

Introduction: For a Planetary Thinking

§1. On the Planetary Condition

§2. Planetary Thinking as Political Epistemologies

§3. Search for a Planetary Politics beyond the Nation-State

§4. Toward a Tractatus Politico-Technologicus of the Planetary

1. World Spirit as Planetary Thinking

§5. Individuation of the Spirit as Historical Process

§6. World Spirit as Planetary Thinking and the Place of Reason in History

§7. Freedom as the Drive of the Transitions of Political Forms

§8. Recursivity of Reason and Freedom in the Modern State

2. The Organism of the State and Its Limit

§9. Spirit and the Organic Becoming of the Externalized

§10. Organism of the State versus Organism of the Animal

§11. The Impasse from the State to Planetary Freedom

3. From Noetic Reflection to Planetary Reflection

§12. Noetic Reflection: Consciousness and Life

§13. Bioeconomical Reflection: Georgescu-Roegen Reads Hegel

§14. Cybernetic Reflection: Toward the Consciousness of Machines

§15. Noospheric Reflection: In Search of a Planetary Freedom?

4. Mechanism, Organism, or Decisionism

§16. From Political Theology to Political Epistemology

§17. Machine and Organism in The Leviathan in the State Theory of Thomas Hobbes

§17. Political Epistemology in Hobbes’s Leviathan

§19. Catholicism and the Logic of Complexio Oppositorum

§20. The Death of Hegel and the Triumph of Political Vitalism

5. Nomos of the Digital Earth

§21. First Deconstruction on the Contingency of Sovereignty

§22. Second Deconstruction on the Contingency of Friend and Enemy

§23. Sovereignty and the Elementary Philosophy of Space

§24.Großräume as Post-Static Political Form and the Problem of Pluralism

§25. Giving Colonialism, New Großräume, and Digital Sovereignty

6. An Organology of Wars

§26. The Disproportion of Organs and the Hubris of Wars

§27. From a Cybernetics of Freedom to an Organology of Differences

§28. The Conflict of Tendencies and the Recurrence of Mysticism

§29. The Dynamics of the Technical Tendency and Technical Fact

§30. On the Organological Relation between Technology and Democracy

§31. Biodiversity, Noodiversity, and Technodiversity

7. Toward an Epistemological Diplomacy

§32. Acceleration, Automation, and the Prosthetic Future

§33. Universality Seen from the Perspective of Technodiversity

§34. Sovereignty Seen from the Perspective of Technodiversity

§35. Technodiversity Analyzed via an Anatomy of Technical Objects

§36. Technodiversity as Epistemological Diplomacy

Notes

Bibliography

Index