Between primary and secondary information: Gilbert Simondon and the question of complexity and control.

In­ter­na­tio­na­ler Work­shop von  „Com­ple­xi­ty of Con­trol? Pa­ra­digms for Sustainable De­ve­lop­ment“ (CCP) gefördert von der Volks­wa­gen­Stif­tung und dem Nie­dersäch­si­schen Mi­nis­te­ri­um für Wis­sen­schaft und Kul­tur (MWK).

15.05.2019, 10 – 18 Uhr. Cam­pus Leu­pha­na Uni­ver­sität C14.103.

Or­ga­ni­siert von Erich Hörl und Oli­ver Leis­tert (Leu­pha­na).


An­drea Bar­din (Ox­ford Broo­kes Uni­ver­si­ty)

Pa­blo Ro­d­ri­guez (Uni­ver­si­dad de Bue­nos Ai­res)


The con­cepts of in­for­ma­ti­on have been con­tested, and are even con­tra­dic­to­ry, sin­ce their in­cep­ti­on in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. The ten­si­ons be­ca­me al­re­a­dy ap­pa­rent bet­ween Shan­non’’s en­tro­pic and Wie­ner’s ne­gen­tro­pic con­cept of in­for­ma­ti­on. When Ba­te­son gave it a de­fi­ni­ti­on as »a dif­fe­rence that ma­kes a dif­fe­rence«, it be­ca­me cle­ar that in­for­ma­ti­on had qua­li­fied as a key con­cept in con­tem­pora­ry in­ter­di­sci­pli­na­ry thought. Much of the still on­go­ing de­ba­tes re­main cen­te­red around the ques­ti­on how to re­la­te in­for­ma­ti­on, mea­ning, en­er­gy and mat­ter. Gil­bert Si­mon­don, a cri­ti­cal ob­ser­ver of the ear­ly cy­ber­ne­tic thin­king, pro­vi­ded al­re­a­dy in the 1950s a con­cep­tu­al pro­po­si­ti­on for in­for­ma­ti­on that would be able to na­vi­ga­te con­tra­dic­tions. He dif­fe­ren­tia­ted bet­ween pri­ma­ry and se­con­da­ry in­for­ma­ti­on. Pri­ma­ry in­for­ma­ti­on be­ca­me his key con­cept for the re­so­lu­ti­on of ten­si­ons bet­ween ma­te­ri­al and en­er­ge­tic or­ders of dif­fe­rent agni­tu­des that are in­com­pa­ti­ble with each other, whi­le as se­con­da­ry in­for­ma­ti­on he un­ders­tood pro­ces­ses wi­t­hin or­ders of the same ma­gni­tu­de. Pri­ma­ry in­for­ma­ti­on can be un­ders­tood as the va­ria­bi­li­ty of form, a qua­li­ta­ti­ve con­cept, re­s­pon­si­ble for the ope­ra­tio­nal mo­des at work in the pro­ces­ses of in­di­vi­dua­ti­on. Such an open de­fi­ni­ti­on of in­for­ma­ti­on high­lights Si­mon­don’s sys­te­ma­tic care for the pro­ces­ses of be­co­m­ing and the de­ve­lop­ment of or­ga­nisms or hu­man collec­tives ali­ke. His­to­ri­ci­ty had al­ways al­re­a­dy been de­eply in­te­gra­ted into his on­to­lo­gy of pro­ces­ses. This work­shop wants to dis­cuss Si­mon­don’s con­cept of pri­ma­ry in­for­ma­ti­on in con­trast to its con­tem­pora­neous pro­po­sals, such as in­for­ma­ti­on as a pro­blem of dif­fe­rence, its de­ve­lop­ment in sys­tems theo­ry, up to to­day’s com­ple­xi­ty theo­ries‘ ope­ra­tio­nal as­sump­ti­ons about what in­for­ma­ti­on is.

In ad­di­ti­on to the broa­der his­to­ri­cal and sys­te­ma­ti­cal con­textua­liza­t­i­on of Si­mon­don’s con­cep­tu­al po­li­tics that is as­so­cia­ted with his re­thin­king of in­for­ma­ti­on, our in­te­rest also con­cerns the ques­ti­on whe­ther Si­mon­don’s con­cepts of in­for­ma­ti­on can be con­side­red an ear­ly pro­po­sal to me­dia­te the ten­si­ons bet­ween con­trol and com­ple­xi­ty as it is part of our re­se­arch pro­gram. In that sen­se, his con­cept of se­con­da­ry in­for­ma­ti­on can be seen as a re­si­due of an ahis­to­ri­cal con­trol thin­king of sys­tems nested in a thin­king of his­to­ri­ci­ty and be­co­m­ing of com­plex sys­tems.

Fi­nal­ly we would like to work through the re­la­ti­on of Si­mon­don’s con­cept of pri­ma­ry in­for­ma­ti­on to his on­to­ge­ne­tic re­con­side­ra­ti­on of what is a pro­blem and which on­to­e­pis­te­mic sta­tus we might ascri­be to the pro­ble­ma­tic.

If you are in­te­rested to par­ti­ciap­te, plea­se con­tact Oli­ver Leis­tert (leis­tert@leu­pha­