The particles of light can take any shape it is necessary to fill the gap between the particles of air. Moreover, although material, the particles of light do not resist motion or collisions XI, Both distinctions emphasise the traditional character of the theory of elements. The requirements of an 32 The reason why there are precisely three elements is not entirely clear.
One expla- nation is given by Gaukroger, , p. Descartes needs three kinds of elements because he needs to account for three kinds of processes in his physical optics: There are three elements because it is impossible to account for a motion in the plenum with less than three kinds of particles.
The whole vortex-based construction is fundamentally based on the theory of elements. In a fairly traditional way, we can say that the Sun and stars are each in the centre of their vortex because they are made of light, which can pass through the fluid air. Similarly, the whole celestial motion can be reduced to a sort of hydrodynamics because of a peculiar theory of elements saying that there are fluid heavens carry- ing around few solid bodies There are numerous peculiar elements of this construction: What is the status of the whole construction?
Is it a theoretical construction of our object of knowledge, described so far through empirical means? Or is it a justification of what has been said so far? From the point of view of the theory of elements, the imaginary construction of the new world is supposed to account for the way they come into being.
Gaukroger has noted an interesting difference between the way Descartes and Newton treated fluids. For Newton and Galileo fluids in general and ether in particu- lar were treated as resisting media; Descartes thinks of the fluid which carries the bod- ies along. See Gaukroger, , At the very first moment of creation, the universe is an undivided extended and impenetrable body.
How this first division and the redistribution of motion are sup- posed to work is not entirely clear. There is certain arbitrariness in defining these parts: There is much to be said about this process and its flaws but this is beyond the point of this paper. The Principles of Philosophy: It is true that Principia is a textbook and has the appropriate structure of a textbook in philosophy. More interesting is the construction and place of Part II, The principles of material things.
Here we find some of the mate- rial of Le Monde: Meanwhile, also in Part II of the Principles there are metaphysical issues like the existence of extended substance, the infinity of the Universe and the questions of individ- uation and identity. It is an interesting example of natural philosophy as part of a larger scheme including physics and metaphysics As such, it provides a basis for cosmology.
But this time there is no theory of matter in the traditional sense or, rather, what is presented as a theory of matter is not a theory of elements anymore. Instead, what we have are abstract entities, parts of matter called bodies whose properties are not that they are made of earth, air or fire but simply geometrical prop- erties: However, the structure of the second part of Principia is very sim- ilar with the structure of Le Monde.
It starts with an argument against the testimony of senses. This time, what we have here is the scepti- cal deconstruction familiar from the Meditations, together with a sum- mary of the argument for the existence of bodies. Then, the follow- 40 Des Chene, , Esprits Modernes ing principles are concerned with the problem of individuation41 and identity over time. The main question is how an intelligible division of matter can be constructed in such a way as to account for indi- vidual bodies.
But the first step is the demonstration of equivalence between matter and extension Therefore, the bodies are firstly and mostly geometrical shapes endowed with some properties, motion included The objects of physics and cosmology are geometrical shapes in motion and no longer elements or particles as in Le Monde. Difficult as it is to construct this partition, it involves a strategy entirely different from the one of Le Monde. Starting from equating space and matter, Descartes proposes a model of physical bodies defined through the surface, shape, quantity of motion, determinatio or conatus and so on All these properties are special properties in the way they can be quantized As a result, the physical bodies are abstract parts of matter defined in a highly abstract way with the means of mathematics47 mainly geometry but, arguably, geometry is not always enough and 90 with the help of the laws of nature.
They take part in collisions through which motion is redistributed and sometimes the whole body changes. As such they are subject of a cosmological account: See for example Des Chene, , Garber, We can see how the theory of matter was already replaced by something much closer to mechanics. Even in Part III, when Descartes reintroduces the theory of ele- ments, its form and status are no longer the same.
Interesting enough is the summary of what is already demonstrated in Part II and what we cannot know through the deductive path of natural philosophy. We also know that there is a global conservation law concerning motion. Although the basic principles of cos- mology are accessible to pure thought, for the details we need obser- vations and hypotheses Therefore, the theory of elements follows an entire part of empirical considerations concerning the composi- tion and behaviour of celestial fluids, stars and planets Then, the exposition of the theory of elements starts with the kind of evolu- 91 tionary approach of Le Monde.
This time, the initial state of the world is not a block universe, but an infinite extension equally divided in an infinite number of equal parts See also Larmore, in Gaukroger, Esprits Modernes of the initial parts of matter into three forms of matter or three ele- ments. Descartes gives no names to his elements in the Principia: Moreover, this time the three forms of matter are the constituents of all the bodies of the universe.
Nothing is left of the tendency of an element to remain so; instead, we have the infinite divisibility of matter and the geometrical distinctions between bodies or particles whose shapes can change from one moment to the other. The static sponge model had prevailed. In conclusion what we have in the Principia is a cosmological theory organised on a structure which, from the seventeenth-century point of view must have been very peculiar.
Its main steps are: Conclusion Apparently we have the same universe: The same plenum and the same vortex theory to account for the motions and behaviour of celestial bodies. However, a closer look at the structure of Le Monde and Principia philosophiae shows substantial differences. I have tried to demonstrate that most of the differences can be understood in terms of the objects of the theory.
What we have in Le Monde is a rather traditional cosmological account in terms of matter theory with some new elements of mechanics. In Principia the situation is different. The account of the evolution of the universe and the behaviour of celestial bodies is no longer made in terms of matter theory. Instead, part II of Principia marked the rewriting of the conceptual structure of natural philosophy in terms of new abstract entities, bodies, defined through their mathematical properties.
They are the objects of the new physics and the new cosmology. Descartes and Newton, in S. Philosophy, Mathematics and Physics, , ; 5. Gaukroger et alii, , ; 7. Philosophy, Mathematics and Physics, ; An Intimate Relation, , ; Descartes and Regius, in Gaukroger, Schuster, Sutton, , ; De la vision, AT VI, Je remercie ici mon ami H. Utar tamen hic aliqua comparatione. Plerique Philosophi, qui putant gravitatem lapidis esse qualitatem realem, a lapide distinctam, putant se satis intelligere, quo pacto ista qualitas possit movere lapidem versus centrum terrae, quia se putant habere ejus rei experientiam manifestam.
Ego vero, qui mihi per- suadeo nullam esse talem qualitatem in rerum natura, nec proinde ullam ejus in huma- no intellectu veram ideam, existimo illos uti idea quam in se habent substantiae incor- poreae, ad istam gravitatem sibi repraesentandam; adeo ut nobis non sit difficilius intel- ligere, quomodo mens moveat corpus, quam istis aliis quomodo talis gravitas lapidem deorsum ferat.
Nec refert quod istam gravitatem dicant non esse substantiam; revera enim illam instar substantiae concipiunt, quandoquidem existimant ipsam esse realem, et per aliquam potentiam nempe Divinam absque lapide posse existere. Unde manifeste concluditur, nullas substantias incor- poreas proprie esse extensas. Hoc vbique non admitto. Videris enim hic infinitatem Dei in eo ponere, quod vbique existat; cio opinioni non assentior: Rodis-Lewis et de F.
III du Concile est: His method had been famous even before the first book he published. Regulae ad directionem ingenii1. However, for us both his claims to an infallible method and the fame of the method are sources of many questions: Paris, , and will be abbreviated as follows: Esprits Modernes My purpose in this paper is to show that there is only one method, and that it is coming from the ancient geometers2.
But before answering to the questions about the nature and the role of the method in Cartesian philosophy, I shall make a short historical presentation of the pre-Cartesian discussions concerning the method3. In philosophy, there was a high interest in method as the result of the development of mathematics, especially of geometry. Thus, first of all, the method becomes a part of the logic, logical papers from that period having a section about method.
Dear identifies two meanings of method: In the second sense we can find the following elements: Bonnen, Descartes and method. The role of the method in the Cartesian system is not very well established, being some divergent opinions. According to Garber we can talk about method in the first per- iod Rules, Discourse , and this method consists into a reductive step followed by a constructive one.
But after this period the method disappears completely from Descartes writings. In a writing dating at the beginning of the seventeenth century, called Summa philosophiae , of Eustachius, the true method was consid- ered to be the second one the order 6. In this way the analysis and the synthesis are considered to be favorable to discoveries, and the defin- ing is seen as favorable only for pedagogical purposes. Another impor- tant figure to be quoted in connection with the method of analysis and synthesis is Zabarella, strongly influenced by Aristotle.
Collective intelligence in the digital age: A revolution just at its beginning
What is this method of analysis and synthesis? In what concerning the first, it shows what the first things that we know are and what is the basis of the deduced things. The method of demon- stration is presented as having two ways: The first consists of a reductive step, and the second of a con- structive step. To these Descartes adds a few considerations about the method that was displayed by the ancient geometers in their writ- ings. Descartes considers that between analysis and synthesis only 4 Pappus, cf.
The translation is made from Romanian text. Descartes offers in Geometry a solution for the problem of Pappus10 applied to more than four lines. In this article we are not interested in Descartes solution, it is important that we can find the method of analysis at Pappus. Jakko Hintikka distinguishes11 two steps of this method: The first represents the search of the premises that can get us to the result.
The second step is a deduction. We can write this formally: The analysis begins from p, and goes through p3 and p2, and finally gets to p1. The synthesis is the reverse of the analysis. This method that appears with Pappus is considered to be the method of the Greek mathematicians and some commentators The book in which the method is the main subject, and in which it is extendedly presented it is an early work of Descartes.
It remained unfinished and it appeared only posthumous. It was men- tioned earlier: Regulae ad directionem ingenii. By this Descartes made a connection between all the sciences. The problem is to find a point C from which to be drown straight lines on the initial lines and to form with these ones some specified angles. Another requirement it is that the result of the multiplication of some lines to be equal with the result of the multi- plication of the other lines, or to be into a given relation.
What does he understood by this? The method is the one that shows us how we could use the ways of finding the truth, such as nothing that is false to be taken as true; and also the way to the knowledge of all things. The two ways that we can take to get to the knowledge of all things are specified in AT X We cannot proceed further without seeing what does Descartes mean by each of them.
In the commentary of the third rule we can find some definitions: These two can lead us to certainty, but they could not do this by themselves. There is another element besides the mental processes of intuition and deduction, namely the simple natures, the first certain objects of our knowledge.
The simple natures are mentioned for the first time in the sixth rule18, where Descartes talks about series of things, series based on these simple natures. How does Descartes arrive to the simple natures? By intu- ition AT X If we go back to the formal scheme of analysis, then the simple natures are represented by p1.
Esprits Modernes deduce later on p2, and p3, and finally p. In this way the simple natures become the first objects of our knowledge. Until now we found out that the method is necessary for obtain- ing a certain knowledge of all that is shown to us. The elements of certainty are the mental processes of intuition and deduction, and the simple natures. The simple natures are the first objects of our knowl- edge and they are obtained through intuition.
So, the conclusion of what it was said before is that our certain knowledge begins from the intuited simple natures and goes on by deductions to find out the composed natures. Is there any connection between what we have said so far and the method of analysis that I have presented? If we want to try to answer to this question, then we should focus our attention to the rule IV Here Descartes affirms that the method of the ancient geometers, such as the new arithmetic algebra appears in his method In this moment we should abandon the study of the Rules and we should look for the applications of this method.
Forward, in Rules there are other norms to be kept in mind if we want to attain certain knowl- edge: These are beyond the pur- pose of this paper. Instead, I will turn to the second writing of Descartes, and the first published: This has been published together with three Essais: An intellectual biography Clarendon Press, Oxford, , p.
For this see Pamela A. At the present time a sort of arithmetic called alge- bra is flourishing, and this is acheving for numbers what the ancients did for figures. Descartes uses his method in the three essays for solving a series of problems such as the explanation of the apparition of the rainbow. The Discourse looks like a preface for the three Essays.
Here, Descartes renounces to a systematical exposition of some rules, and he begins with an autobiographical exposition. He told us how he had begun to be concerned about method, and which were the steps that he took for the completion of the method. In short, those are: But let us see what is happened with the Essays, if that we could find these rules applied in the process of solving the problems that can be found here.
The beginning of both Dioptrics and Meteors consists in the formulation of some hypotheses, and this is the point where the arguments started. But we can find an exception, and this is presented in the same manner as the method of the Rules: Into a letter addressed to Vatier, and who dates from 22 February AT I , Descartes wrote that the example of the rainbow contains his method, and it is an illustration of this.
This has made Daniel Garber22 to con- sider that discourse eight of Meteors dates not from when it was wrote the Discourse, but from the earlier period, , the last peri- od when Descartes was writing at the Rules. This affirmation is sus- tained by the way of solving the problems into another writing of Descartes from the same period: As I have said, there is only one place in the Discourse where Descartes applies his own method. Esprits Modernes from the discourse 8 of Meteors. Into the other essays that came with the Discourse all discussions begins from some hypotheses.
The same thing happens in The World, where some of the laws that stay at the foundation of his natural philosophy can be found, but the manner of presenting the arguments is a hypothetical one. We notice a loosening of the interest for method, and after this topic disappears com- pletely from Descartes concerns both in the published writings and in the correspondence. Why does this happen?
Since after , Descartes begins the reconstruction of the whole body of knowledge into a unified system of knowledge, the method of Rules is not appropriate. First, this method needs cer- tain questions to respond to, and secondly, there is a question concerning the way in which we can pass from a question about some- thing to an intuition of its simple nature. Now there is a need for a previous justifi- cation of those. Therefore, there must be formulated a stronger answer, and a better founded than the intuitions of the Rules. Is the Greek geometers method lost, then?
For Descartes the dependencies are conceptual In the last case the dependencies being physical.
IEML AND THE FUTURE OF COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE
It is a choice made by Descartes when he wrote the eighth discourse of the Meteors, too, but not in other essays. The reason for such choice is this: Further on I shall analyse such an application of the method; it is the problem of the formation of the rainbow from the Meteors. Descartes begins his analysis from the empirical observation that the rainbow does not appear only on the sky, but it can be seen also into the fountains. We have then a problem p that can be formulated in the following way: We saw where can we found it, and by the observations we discover that the rain- bow appears only in the presence of the water drops.
To find out if the cause of the phenomenon is the light that came into contact with the water drops, Descartes has built a glass28 and filled it up with rain- water. In such a way he has build a model of the rainbow. After the end of the experiment, he has found out that into a certain point we can see the appearance of a red region, and that into the bow formed by the rainbow there seems to be two regions of colors. Further on, Descartes has tried to find what is the cause of the red color, and what is the cause of the two regions of colors.
The initial problem what is the cause of the rainbow? This last question can be divided in two To answer to these new questions we need to make observations. An intellectual biography, p. Esprits Modernes result of the combinations between two reflections and two refrac- tions; and the colour is produced on a curve surface by a ray of light and subsequent refraction. From these observations we came to other questions: Here, we can reduce these two questions to a more general problem: After we came to this general question, Descartes considers that we could answer, because we intuit clearly and distinctly what is the nature of light.
Once that we have the intuition we can begin the con- structive step following in the opposite direction each question and answering to them. In this way, from the intuition concerning the nature of light we came to the law of refraction and to the theory that states that the change suffered by the light passing thought a medium, is a change of the tendency of rotation The answer is about the cause of the two regions, and about the apparition of the colour in respect with the change of the movement of rotation in the case of the particles of light These two answers are combined and we find the answer to p1: From this we have only one answer to give for solving the initial problem.
So, this approach is exemplary for the way Descartes conceives the application of the method, and also for presenting the role of the experiment and its relation with the method. As far as the method is concerned, we notice that Descartes begins from one problem p which is reduced to another p1 ; and this one is divided in two p2. This is the reductive step of analysis, and from here he starts the constructive step, of syn- thesis. This one begins with the intuition that was found through the question p4, and goes on answering to the questions p2. First of all we notice that we start from a phenomenon which can be found in nature both in artificial environment: This phenomenon needs an expla- nation, and we search for it by the use of analysis.
But the first ques- tion needs supplementary explanations, and we can arrive to them only by appealing the experiment. By doing various observations we came to the fact that the spots of red colour appear in the rainbow only when there are fulfilled some conditions; e. These observations help us to build new questions and they lead us to the problem to which we could answer by intuition. Another example where the method of analysis can be applied though not presented in this way by Descartes, is the theory concern- ing the movement of the Earth.
By this I want to show that most of the problems that appear in Descartes writings are solved by the use of the same method, but they are presented in different manner. The question about the movement of the Earth appears at the beginning of the third part of the Principles and it is presented by Descartes on the form of some presuppositions, from where he advances until the formulation of the theory. Forward I shall present this theory in con- formity with the method of analysis, in the same way that I have made in the discussion about the rainbow. So, we have a problem from where we begin and to which we try to find the answer: By appealing to experiment we are able to find that Earth is similar to the other planets33, so our question becomes: We go on with the experiment and we observe that the planets are surrounded by havens, and this raises two questions: To these last questions we can answer by intuition: From these two intuitions begins the constructive step synthesis and responds to p2: The same answer is also true for the starting question: The conclusion is apparently surprising, but this answer depends, as we saw by the way it is conceived the motion.
The reason for which I presented this example is because the theories that appear in Descartes are treated in conformity with the method of analysis. Even that we found the expo- sition as being closer to the synthesis, and starting from the diverse accepted things; such as axioms, definitions; the way in which problems are solved is by means of reductive step, through successive questions until an answer is find by intuition.
In the case of the prob- lems that belong to the natural philosophy, like the two examples pre- sented before, the questions are accompanied by experiments. Gilson Paris, Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, , p. And the third is similar with the crucial exper- iments of Bacon. For Descartes the meaning is more similar with the second interpretation.
Experiment means the combination between the observation of the phenomenon and the deductive construction. I have said that the Rules had two problems concerning the method: I believe that these two problems are solved by the subsequent construction of the Cartesian system. Thus, intuition is justified by the three metaphysical princi- ples: The order of deductions that appears in the step of synthesis is established by the order in which the questions are raised in the steps of analysis.
In most of the cases we meet the synthetically manner of writing, which was considered by Descartes as being more easy to be under- stood and who was asked by his readers But both manners of writ- ings are parts of the same method, a method that starts from diverse problems and try to bring them to simpler ones, in such a way that their answer could be intuited.
The reverse step begins from these intuitions by answering successively in the opposite order the ques- tions that were raised before. Cambridge University Press, ; 2. Cambridge University Press, ; 7. Vrin, ; 8. Cambridge University Press, ; Retenons bien ce point. Cela ne se peut et serait injuste. Ferreyrolles, Poche-Classique, , fr. La Passion de la raison. La raison en est radi- calement incapable. Taylor, Les sources du moi, Seuil, , p. Mais comment devons-nous penser ce lien? La critique des illusions du rationalisme dogmatique vient appuyer les connaissances positives du coeur.
Si le coeur nous apprend que nous 19 S. Voici le texte fondamental de Pascal: Although there have been some attempts, especially in the sociology of knowledge promoted by the Edinburgh School, to contextualise the advancement of the modern natural science by paying attention to its socio-economical and technological ingredients, few readings 1I am grateful to my former supervisor at New College, Oxford, Dr Elizabeth Frazer, for her careful reading of a previous version of this paper and to my former colleagues Chris Brooke, Micah Schwartzmann, Dan Butt, Edward Skidelski, James Panton and Uri Gordon for some comments on this paper.
I am also indebted to Dr Michael Freeden for his useful suggestions regarding the structure of this paper and to my friend Dana Jalobeanu for all the captivating discussions about the content of this paper. Esprits Modernes so far have tried to connect the underlying principles of the physical theory, on the one hand, with the structures of thinking of larger social groups and with their more or less explicit political interests in the 17th Century England.
This paper is meant to do something in this regard, by questioning the widespread view that mainstream 17th Century science has a sheer natural science pedigree, owing no influence to both the political debates and the ideological struggles of the era. This is not intended to omit the fact that some indi- vidual thinkers had contributed more substantially than others to those intellectual shifts, and does by no means suggest that they owe all their philosophical inspiration to broader ideological patterns. Nonetheless, as authors having deployed their views about nature and society in a certain historical context, they may not have been com- pletely alienated to the political and historical tendencies of their time.
Finally, I will try to locate somehow this political ontology on the map of Western ideologies by identifying its semantical features and try to match them with a certain ideological family. Although my approach here is not primarily diachronic but rather structural, since I shall take seriously a political and ideological motivation which is likely to have fuelled all these methodological generalizations, I will also pay atten- tion to the broader context in which the mainstream atomistic social and physical theories have emerged.
These doctrines are taken here as mainly represented by Hobbes and Locke, on the one hand, and by Newton, on the other hand. Roughly speaking, both Hobbes and Locke, as well as Newton, wrote in a period of social struggle for sovereignty between the upholders of civil society, seen as an economic market area independ- ent of the government and based on contract relations, and the con- servative nobility. In other words, this struggle could be seen as involving at least two political ideologies supporting the interests of two different social groups, which is politically structured later on in England as the division between Whigs and Tories.
In like manner, the position expressed by the notorious spokesman of Tories, the feudal-abso- lutist theorist Filmer, was later encountered by the famous Whig the- orist Locke in the First Treatise of Government. These theoretical positions could be, of course, connected also to the crisis of religion that influenced the ideological arrangements of the time. The concept was contested by Whigs, who strongly rejected all authority of the Pope, while sustaining the official Church of England. In addition, there had been also another political actor in the 17th Century to be considered here.
This is the group of the so-called Levellers, who are sometimes categorized by historians as radical Puritans, or nonconformist Protestants Manning, , Politically, they supported av. Their programme push- es thus the liberal democratic political doctrine emerging in the 17th Century England to a very equalitarian extreme.
Nonetheless, insofar as they argued for their political goals by claiming that each men has the natural right to property, they too used what I shall call here the atomistic principle of the system civil society compounded out of independent particles private proprietors. The Whigs only wanted to sustain the proper- ty right as a formal principle, and not as a moral egalitarian prescrip- tion such as the levelling of estates that the Levellers claimed. Locke have thus taken seriously some principles put forward by the Levellers during , but without justifying however an absolute or simple equality.
He notoriously added, in a passage from the third edition Second Treatise, published in , that the larger wealth of a small number of proprietors would actually contribute to the wealth of mankind, instead of undermining it: Social and Physical Atomism in the 17th Century What Locke claims here is, thus, that the accumulation of large estates by the expropriation of the peasants who become wage-earn- ers of the large entrepreneurs is more profitable, and that it does not necessarily lead to the impoverishment of the rest of mankind, being, on the contrary, beneficial to all the people.
This liberal argument is consistent with a policy of wealth, rather than with social assistance, charitable policies. It is also an argument that legitimates the existence of large estates in the modern world, which was interestingly advanced after the appointment of William III of Orania by the Parliament in February , when the capitalists and landowners had accumulat- ed big estates, either by buying them at very low prices, or by a mere annexation Hill, , But this should be not interpreted, as I already mentioned, according to a Marxist orthodox class dialectic, since the Levellers and the Whigs did not belong to the same social class, but to a larger social group transcending class- boundaries and yet shared some interests in self-ownership and had some common ideological motivations.
The common interest of Levellers and Whigs was, arguably, to defend a theoretical view that could legitimize the image of civil society as an aggregate of autarchic individuals, which was instrumental for establishing con- tracted social relations, while at the same time undermining the insti- tution of inherited property. In like manner, though perhaps with greater methodological cau- tion, the process formation of a scientific theory such as the Newtonian mechanics may be seen as somehow interrelated to the set of political values that were defended by both the Levellers and the Whigs.
Both texts were aimed at supporting the religious tolerance, against the intransigence of the Presbyterian Church. Locke will express the same view in , in his First Letter on Toleration. Woodhouse, , , and for the petition to the House of Commons from 11th September Petition to the House of Commons. All these texts express liberal-demo- cratic ideals that will be re-asserted and elaborated by Locke in his political theory.
The same kind of concept of civil society as the one pioneered by the Levellers may have informed, albeit in very indirect ways, the presuppositions of the Newtonian science, as I shall try to suggest further on. In my view, the basic criteria for an atomistic ontological position are the following: I add that difference is to be read here as separateness, whereas sameness is to be taken as connectiveness. Both properties are applicable to the first case i of the relation of atoms to the system and to the second case ii of the relation of atoms to other atoms alike.
These would be the minimal criteria I propose here for a descrip- tion of an atomistic structure of matter civil society. Since in some cases a methodological prescription of an atomistic structure of socie- ty would be useful, we might need to draw also the criteria for some atomistic methodological prescriptions. These could be put as follows: The same attributes may be, arguably, applied to a single particle in empty space.
The extension, hardness, impenetrability, mobility, and force of inertia of the whole arise from the extension, hardness, impenetrability, mobility and force of inertia of each of the parts; and thus we conclude that every one of the least particles of all bodies is extended, hard, impenetrable, movable, and endowed with a force of inertia. And this is the foundation of all natural philosophy. Social and Physical Atomism in the 17th Century each particle from the mode of existence of the system or from the plurality of particles.
But here again, we can see that nothing is supposed by Newton to have preceded the individual existence of the particles of matter. Descartes, for example, notoriously assumes that, in order to be apprehended, phenomena need to be traced back to the laws of nature he formulated in Principles of Philosophy II, as a second cause for the movement of matter, that accounts for the individua- tion of matter into corpuscles. On the contrary, Newton seems to rely on the supposition that phenomena are to be ultimately explained by the existence of the essential properties of particles. The most striking statement of Hobbes in this regard is to be found in De Cive: The assumption of a possible origin of the state without the premise of already existing social relations is conspicuous here.
But, insofar as Hobbes invites us to consider men as if they were emerged on earth like mushrooms, this is to be considered a model, or a pre- scriptive methodology, rather than a description of the real condition of actual human beings.
In other words, what Hobbes puts forward here is rather an ideal of how men should be conceived of, and not a picture of discrete entities, with no social connections between them. De Corpore II, 8. The conclusion of this thought experiment is clearly drawn by Freudenthal: Since Hobbes attributes to the body the essential property of extension, almost like Descartes, while at the same time denies the existence of void, can one derive from here that the former relies on an atomistic ontology in his natural philosophy, and that he sees the difference between distinct entities, separated by void, as a primitive ontological category?
For it is clear that this thought exper- iment relies on the assumption of the individual existence of the par- ticles of matter or bodies, regardless of the previous existence of the world system. Since such bodies are not the result of an individuation of the matter into corpuscles, like in the Cartesian theory of matter, being supposed to emerge as already shaped bodies or extended things, it seems to be grounded to say that Hobbes actually sustains in his natural science the primitive category of the atomistic difference between bodies, in terms of ontological degrees of existence.
If this is accurate, such a normative atomism would be unable to convey a stronger atomistic ontology. For no other author in the 17th Century but Hobbes employed this atomistic principle before Newton Freudenthal, , Even if we accepted that this presupposition was first pro- posed by Hobbes on a normative methodological level, the fact that it further re-entered in his more general methodology in De Corpore could be still significant.
And even if we admitted that there is a difference between an ontological postulate and a methodological prescription, which we normally do, the fact that the same principle that is first proposed in normative terms, as a model of political theory, does re- emerge later on as a part of a more general philosophical method, and informs the mainstream natural science of the time, may suffice to engage inquiries.
Social and Physical Atomism in the 17th Century only as influenced upon by the former, but also as a way of concep- tual strengthening and possible contextual need for a scientific legit- imization of social atomism. What I try to hypothesize here is that there may be a tacit interplay between the normative methodological atomism in the civil philosophy of Hobbes and the further developments of the concept of system in physics. This could be interpreted as a rhetorical need of legitimizing the former by the latter, as Quentin Skinner suggests in his Reason and Rhetoric in the Philosophy of Hobbes On the other hand, these scientific concepts reinforced the credit of the social theories sustaining the atomistic images of society as an ideal political standpoint.
This interplay can be seen as fuelled by a single structure of interest, which may unify somehow the political and ideological stands of the various support- ers of atomism, though a reductionist uniform structure is, on the other hand, less desirable. Property right is, therefore, similar to a non-relational property of an atom in Newtonian physics. The resulting image of civil society is thus the atomistic aggregate of independent proprietors. Since this independence is assumed to be the basic condition of individuals in the state of nature, besides the formal equality between them and the property right, the community based on the sharing of interests is a constructed stage in the Lockean political model.
Such an atomistic standpoint seems to be taken up by Locke as an already warranted evidence, after its being implicitly sustained by the norma- tive atomism of Hobbes and reinforced through the scientific concepts of Newtonian mechanics. Despite the fact that there is a philosophi- cal controversy regarding the ontological status Locke would attrib- ute to space, which is sometimes interpreted as an absolute space Grant, , , n.
Chappell highlights the difference between the two kinds of masses and organ- isms, both being conceived by Locke as compounded substances, i. But presumably these simple substances are to be attributed themselves a different kind, and hence are supposed to be ontologically different from the two compounded substances. Social and Physical Atomism in the 17th Century let us suppose an atom, i. In like manner, if two or more atoms be joined together into the same mass, every one of those atoms will be the same, by the foregoing rule Essay, Book 2, Chapter 27; The Works, I, The main pattern for the explanation of the principle of individ- uation is thus given by one single atom which has a determined size and shape and exists in a certain period of time and in a certain place.
This atom or body is thus supposed to be a distinct thing and a model for the individuation of all compounded substances. It is thus, appar- ent, that simple substances are supposed by Locke to be of a distinct kind and, furthermore, to exist prior to compounded substances. Although this may be seen as merely speculative, it seems to be, however, consistent with what Locke says. Since the unity of substance is implied in the idea of a single substance, it is clear that an atom could main- tain its identity over time, whereas neither masses nor organisms could endure.
So atoms could be seen as having, so to say, a higher ontological degree than some other compounded things, while the distinct spatio-temporal determinations between such atoms sustain a primitive difference between them. Esprits Modernes What kind of political ontology? Despite the fact that the inquiries over the connections between the social and the physical atomism are controversial, I have sup- ported here the thesis of an underlying uniformity of an atomistic principle that was used in both 17th Century social and physical theories.
Yet, this uniformity is to be seen in terms of a driving influ- ence that an atomist prescriptive methodology put forward in political science could have had upon the construction of an atomistic ontology which legitimated in return the social atomism. This inter- play between political science and physics is, arguably, paired by the fact that both methodological atomistic prescriptions used in early modern political science and further atomistic concepts developed in physics can be seen, in their turn, as impacted upon by the interests to sustain some political and ideological positions in 17th Century England.
But to what sort of political doctrine or ideology could be attached this atomistic structural order? The first candidate here is of course the political ideology of liberalism. The atomistic disconnection of social individuals with each other and with the system could indeed fit within an important rubric of liber- alism, that is individualism.
But this individualistic principle of the formation of system cannot be, of course, equated with the very core of the liberal ideology, as focused upon the constraining of authority to the benefit of individual. At best, we can sustain that individualism it is an important ingredient of the modern liberal doctrine. But the question above is still left unanswered. Despite the fact that this position is rather congenial with a social- democratic agenda, the atomistic principle of independent propri- etors defended by the Levellers is again an individualistic one.
This principle could help arrange on the same semantical side these doctrines, although from the single view- point I have mentioned, the atomistic political ontology. This is not necessarily identifiable with liberalism or proto-liberalism, but could stand on its own regardless of a broader ideological framework. The Hegelian dis- missal of the atomist starting point of social contract theories, for example, does not come to grips with the idea that individual free- dom should be acknowledged in the construction of a theory of state a classic liberal premise.
It only censures the atomist individualistic side of social contract theories. So, at least on a theoretical level, a social atomistic view could be treated criticized or sustained as autonomous, even by those authors who recognize some liberal prin- ciples. Of course, this ideological structure is to be seen primarily as expressed through intentional conceptualiza- tions, though it may be also informed by some semi-articulated and partially unconscious views espoused by many progressive or anti- feudal actors in the 17th Century England. Thus, an atomistic scenario of the world-order and of the social arrangements seems to be a plausible candidate for that shared political doctrine which relied, up to a certain extent, on a common value-system.
The struc- tural continuity I stressed here relies on the principle of the system compounded out of independent elements, which gives priority to the existence of the essential properties of a particle over the whole system of particles. But this principle is not, as it were, a traditional silent scientific melody, and it could be consistently linked with the broader emergence of a bourgeois concept of civil society made up by the aggregation of the independent, private proprietors. Since the political and ideological struggles to assert this concept of society were coincident with both the sustaining of a prescriptive atomistic methodology in political theory and with its reinforcement in physi- cal science, the conjecture that social and political biases had had an influence upon the process formation of such theoretical structures seems to be a reasonable one.
Otherwise, the striking structural convergences I have stressed here could simply not be captured by a less structural account of their historical emergence, that would omit every kind of theoretical, rhetorical and hermeneutical alliances. Social and Physical Atomism in the 17th Century References 1. Studies, 60 , ; 2. A Conceptual Approach, Oxford: Clarendon Press, ; 4. Reidel Publishing Company, ; 5. Cambridge University Press, ; 6. Philosophicall rudiments concerning Government and society, a critical edition by Howard Warrender, Oxford: Clarendon Press, ; 8.
Scientia Aalen, ; 9. Penguin Books, ; The Legacies of Descartes and Gassendi, , Princeton: Princeton University Press, ; The power of mind over matter, Cambridge etc.: Hobbes to Locke, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ; Penguin Books, , ; University of California Press, ; Hobbes, Boyle and the experimental life, Princeton: Rogers, Alan Ryan eds. Clarendon Press, ; The Making of the Modern Identity, Cambridge: In doing so, I shall offer an inter- pretation of the constitution of the political philosophy of the Enlightenment and, ultimately, of the nature of modern political science in general.
I admit this is an ambitious goal. Therefore, I suggest offering first a justification of my enterprise. In order for the theory of social contract to be able to offer us the insights that I claim it might, we should verify to what extent contractualism is fundamental for the political theory of the 18th century. To give just one example, the ideas of voluntary union and fabrication of the body politic are interpreted as instances of a denial of traditional natural hierarchies and a defence of indi- vidualism and artifice. There is, however, a difficulty here. References to a political and social contract are, granted, somewhat common in the 18th century.
Yet, we have to steer clear from relying excessively on this. An analy- sis of the political literature of that time will convince us that there were a number of other issues that were more frequently debated and often without any reference to a contractualist framework. It could fairly be said that in the political discourses of the 18th century, sub- jects as poverty, population or social ranks were more important that the social contract.
Even more damaging to the idea that contractualism was essential to the social dissertations of the Enlightenment is the fact that in most cases when contract was mentioned at all, it was so only in a cursory fashion. It is true, for instance, that Hutcheson of the Inquiry into the Original of our Idea of Beauty and Virtue1 or Diderot of the Encyclopedie see the article on Political Authority adhere to the theory of contract; however, they did not develop systematically this intu- ition.
For them, as for various others, the social contract is only a secondary element in the architecture of their theories. Nevertheless, while it is true that the theory of social contract was not indispensable to the social and political discourse of the 18th cen- tury, it is equally true that contractualism was the basic form of most of the 18th century political science. The Theory of Social Contract and the Idea of Political Science of political theory , this was a difference which the 17th and 18th cen- tury thinkers regarded as important. John Locke for one, made this clear in a text called Some Thoughts concerning Reading and Study for a Gentleman where he shows that: Rousseau writes, in the Second Discourse: There is a specific theoretical genre then, that we are now about to investigate.
It could be briefly characterised by a conscious effort to devise a comprehensive and systematic science of politics of universal significance and not simply to comment on a set of particular facts or to influence the behaviour of certain political actors. The essential difference lies in the nature of the problems of what we have labelled the scientific inquiry in matters political of the 18th century philoso- phers.
The focus of this body of writings is rather the perennial ques- tions of the nature and origin of the political order, the end of political association or the legitimity of political authority in general. They refer to the tradition of political philosophy rather that to the political context. This last point is especially important, I believe. The development of the theory of social contract in the second part of the 17th and in the 18th century was largely the result of internal criticism in a line of thinkers that constantly paid attention to a distinguished but limited set of predecessors.
In the same vein, Kant was influenced by Rousseau when he criticised in his Metaphysics of Morals , some of the consequences of the theory of another notable propagator of contractualism in the 18th century, Beccaria. Insofar as there was a political science in the 18th century, it was more often than not contractualist in character. Even those political philosophers critical of the contract arguments, took their time to refute them Leibniz and Hume. This distinction, however, would leave us only with a modest number of works and authors: The question then is what a restrict- ed collection of writings could teach us about the transformations of the contract theory in the 18th century that would take us beyond hair-splitting details.
There is a transformation of classical contractualism of capital importance in the history of political thought. At the end of the 18th century, the theory of social contract almost disappears from the vocabulary of the political philosophy. We see now that the distinc- tion between mere practical political discourse and theoretical science is useful to measure the magnitude of the transformation accom- plished at the end of Enlightenment.
Despite isolated occurrences of the notion of contract in the practical and juridical discourse, the 19th century political and social sciences would reject or rather ignore the theory of contract. The relegation to the cabinet of curiosities what was until then the principal form of the scientific interrogation of the body politic is a fundamental transformation in the human sciences in general that is yet to be explained. The Theory of Social Contract and the Idea of Political Science The quasi-disappearance of the social contract theory is surpris- ing since it is only the general conception of contract as an explana- tory device together with its systematic treatment that is eliminated.
In other words, what is left behind is only the contractualist esprit de systeme. By contrast, there are numerous individual elements of this theory kept and re-interpreted in a new spirit in the XIXth century. However, the theory of social contract itself does not survive in a changed intellectual milieu and its demise and partially that of the natural law theories, I should perhaps add should surprise us, in my opinion. It included a psychology in Hobbes and Rousseau , it was mould on the language of economics in Locke and again Rousseau and it might easily have been re-formulated to suit the vocabulary of quantitative analysis.
All these fields of knowledge evolved in the 19th century and developed into institutionalised fields of systematic inquiry. The term itself seems to have been utilised first to a young friend of Condorcet, Garat, in a pamphlet from the end of What I con- sider most interesting in the profile of this relatively new science is that its formation coincides, more or less, with the elimination from the horizon of fundamental knowledge of the philosophies of the social contract.
Only on the background of this massive disappearance we could fully appreciate, I claim, the nature of the problems that qual- ify as central for, and the nature of political objects that are legiti- mately under the gaze of, the modern political scientist. I think we could understand the significance and the forms of the transformation I refer to when we realise that the end of the 18th century is the moment when political science ceases for all purposes 3 Seethe discussion on the origin of the term in Keith Michael Baker, Condorcet.
Esprits Modernes to be a science of the passions. True enough, in the early 19th century there are still references to the passions in a political context Tocqueville with his Democracy in America is perhaps the most remarkable example. Since my project here involves a reflexive collective intelligence, I would like to place the theme of reflexive knowledge in its historical and philosophical context.
As a first approximation, reflexive knowledge may be defined as knowledge knowing itself. But the reflexivity of knowledge took a decisive step around the middle of the first millennium BCE,  during the period when the Buddha, Confucius, the Hebrew prophets, Socrates and Zoroaster in alphabetical order lived. These teachers involved the entire human race in their investigations: I will examine the Aristotelian lineage of this theosophical consciousness, which culminated in the concept of the agent intellect.
Starting in the sixteenth century in Europe—and spreading throughout the world with the rise of modernity—there was a second age of reflection on knowledge, which maintained the universal perspective of the previous period but abandoned the reference to Heaven and confined itself to human knowledge, with its recognized limits but also its rational ideal of perfectibility. This was the second age, the scientific age, of reflexive knowledge. Here, the investigation follows two intertwined paths: In both cases, knowledge must define its transcendental subject, that is, it must discover its own determinations.
There are many signs in indicating that in the twenty-first century—around the point where half of humanity is connected to the Internet—we will experience a third stage of reflexive knowledge. This is the coming technological age of reflexive knowledge with its ideal of an algorithmic intelligence. The brief history of these three modalities—theosophical, scientific and technological—of reflexive knowledge can be read as a philosophical genealogy of algorithmic intelligence.
But in the fifth century BCE in Athens, Socrates extended the Delphic injunction in an unexpected way, introducing dialectical inquiry. He asked his contemporaries: What do you think? Can you justify what you are saying about courage, justice or love? Could you repeat it seriously in front of a little group of intelligent or curious citizens? His main disciple, Plato, followed this path of rigorous questioning of the unthinking categorization of reality, and finally discovered the world of Ideas.
Ideas for Plato are intellectual forms that, unlike the phenomena they categorize, do not belong to the world of Becoming. These intelligible forms are the original essences, archetypes beyond reality, which project into phenomenal time and space all those things that seem to us to be truly real because they are tangible, but that are actually only pale copies of the Ideas. We would say today that our experience is mainly determined by our way of categorizing it. Plato taught that humanity can only know itself as an intelligent species by going back to the world of Ideas and coming into contact with what explains and motivates its own knowledge.
He places at the top of his hierarchical cosmos divine thought knowing itself. In De Anima,  his book on psychology and the theory of knowledge, he states that, under the effect of an agent intellect separate from the body, the passive intellect of the individual receives intelligible forms, a little like the way the senses receive sensory forms.
In thinking these intelligible forms, the passive intellect becomes one with its objects and, in so doing, knows itself. From a theosophical perspective, everything that happens takes place in the unity of a self-reflexive divine thought, or in the Indian tradition in the consciousness of an omniscient Brahman or Buddha, open to infinity. In the Aristotelian tradition, Avicenna, Maimonides and Albert the Great considered that the identity of the intellect, the intelligence and the intelligible was achieved eternally in God, in the perfect reflexivity of thought thinking itself.
In contrast, it was clear to our medieval theosophists that in the case of human beings, the three aspects of knowledge were neither complete nor identical. Indeed, since the passive intellect knows itself only through the intermediary of its objects, and these objects are constantly disappearing and being replaced by others, the reflexive knowledge of a finite human being can only be partial and transitory. Ultimately, human knowledge could know itself only if it simultaneously knew, completely and enduringly, all its objects.
But that, obviously, is reserved only for the divinity. That is why our theosophists imagined a series of mediations between transcendence and finitude. In the middle of that series, a metaphysical interface provides communication between the unimaginable and inaccessible deity and mortal humanity dispersed in time and space, whose living members can never know—or know themselves—other than partially.
The agent intellect is not limited—in the realm of time—to sending the intelligible categories that inform the human passive intellect; it also determines—in the realm of eternity—the maximum limit of what the human race can receive of the universal and perfectly reflexive knowledge of the divine. That is why, according to the medieval theosophists, the best a mortal intelligence can do to approach complete reflexive knowledge is to contemplate the operation in itself of the agent intellect that emanates from above and go back to the source through it.
In accordance with this regulating ideal of reflexive knowledge, living humanity is structured hierarchically, because human beings are more or less turned toward the illumination of the agent intellect. At the top, prophets and theosophists receive a bright light from the agent intellect, while at the bottom, human beings turned toward coarse material appetites receive almost nothing.
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The influx of intellectual forms is gradually obscured as we go down the scale of degree of openness to the world above. With the European Renaissance, the use of the printing press, the construction of new observation instruments, and the development of mathematics and experimental science heralded a new era. God was still present in the Cartesian system, but He was only there, ultimately, to guarantee the validity of the efforts of human scientific thought: They therefore attempted, each in his own way, to constitute reflexive knowledge within the framework of coherent monism.
For Spinoza, nature identified with God is a unique and infinite substance of which thought and extension are two necessary attributes among an infinity of attributes. This strict ontological monism is counterbalanced by a pluralism of expression, because the unique substance possesses an infinity of attributes, and each attribute, an infinity of modes.
The summit of human freedom according to Spinoza is the intellectual love of God, that is, the most direct and intuitive possible knowledge of the necessity that moves the nature to which we belong. For Leibniz, the world is made up of monads, metaphysical entities that are closed but are capable of an inner perception in which the whole is reflected from their singular perspective. The consistency of this radical pluralism is ensured by the unique, infinite divine intelligence that has considered all possible worlds in order to create the best one, which corresponds to the most complex—or the richest—of the reciprocal reflections of the monads.
As for human knowledge—which is necessarily finite—its perfection coincides with the clearest possible reflection of a totality that includes it but whose unity is thought only by the divine intelligence. After Leibniz and Spinoza, the eighteenth century saw the growth of scientific research, critical thought and the educational practices of the Enlightenment, in particular in France and the British Isles. The philosophy of the Enlightenment culminated with Kant, for whom the development of knowledge was now contained within the limits of human reason, without reference to the divinity, even to envelop or guarantee its reasoning.
But the ideal of reflexivity and universality remained. This is the purpose of Kantian transcendental philosophy. Here, human intelligence, armed with its reason alone, now faces only the phenomenal world. Human intelligence and the phenomenal world presuppose each other. Intelligence is programmed to know sensory phenomena that are necessarily immersed in space and time. As for phenomena, their main dimensions space, time, causality, etc.
These are forms of the transcendental subject and not intrinsic characteristics of reality. Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, the English and French Enlightenment, and Kant accomplished a great deal in two centuries, and paved the way for the modern philosophy of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A new form of reflexive knowledge grew, spread, and fragmented into the human sciences, which mushroomed with the end of the monopoly of theosophy. As this dispersion occurred, great philosophers attempted to grasp reflexive knowledge in its unity.
The reflexive knowledge of the scientific era neither suppressed nor abolished reflexive knowledge of the theosophical type, but it opened up a new domain of legitimacy of knowledge, freed of the ideal of divine knowledge. This de jure separation did not prevent de facto unions, since there was no lack of religious scholars or scholarly believers.
Modern scientists could be believers or non-believers. Their position in relation to the divinity was only a matter of motivation. Believers loved science because it revealed the glory of the divinity, and non-believers loved it because it explained the world without God. But neither of them used as arguments what now belonged only to their private convictions. In the human sciences, there were systematic explorations of the determinations of human existence. And since we are thinking beings, the determinations of our existence are also those of our thought.
How do the technical, historical, economic, social and political conditions in which we live form, deform and set limits on our knowledge? What are the structures of our biology, our language, our symbolic systems, our communicative interactions, our psychology and our processes of subjectivation? Modern thought, with its scientific and critical ideal, constantly searches for the conditions and limits imposed on it, particularly those that are as yet unknown to it, that remain in the shadows of its consciousness. I will now broadly outline the figure of the transcendental subject of the scientific era, a figure that re-examines and at the same time transforms the three complementary aspects of the agent intellect.
An evolving transcendental subject emerges from this reflexive cycle in which the living intelligence contemplates its own image in the form of a scientifically intelligible intelligence. Scientific investigation here is the internal mirror of the transcendental subjectivity, the mediation through which the living intelligence observes itself. It is obviously impossible to confuse the living intelligence and its scientifically intelligible image, any more than one can confuse the map and the territory, or the experience and its description. Nor can one confuse the mirror scientific investigation with the being reflected in it the living intelligence , nor with the image that appears in the mirror the intelligible intelligence.
These three aspects together form a dynamic unit that would collapse if one of them were eliminated. While the living intelligence would continue to exist without a mirror or scientific image, it would be very much diminished. It would have lost its capacity to reflect from a universal perspective. The creative paradox of the intellectual reflexivity of the scientific age may be formulated as follows. It is clear, first of all, that the living intelligence is truly transformed by scientific investigation, since the living intelligence that knows its image through a certain scientific investigation is not the same does not have the same experience as the one that does not know it, or that knows another image, the result of another scientific investigation.
But it is just as clear, by definition, that the living intelligence reflects itself in the intelligible image presented to it through scientific knowledge. In other words, the living intelligence is equally dependent on the scientific and critical investigation that produces the intelligible image in which it is reflected. When we observe our physical appearance in a mirror, the image in the mirror in no way changes our physical appearance, only the mental representation we have of it.
However, the living intelligence cannot discover its intelligible image without including the reflexive process itself in its experience, and without at the same time being changed. In short, a critical science that explores the limits and determinations of the knowing subject does not only reflect knowledge—it increases it. Thus the modern transcendental subject is—by its very nature—evolutionary, participating in a dynamic of growth.
In line with this evolutionary view of the scientific age, which contrasts with the fixity of the previous age, the collectivity that possesses reflexive knowledge is no longer a theosophical hierarchy oriented toward the agent intellect but a republic of letters oriented toward the augmentation of human knowledge, a scientific community that is expanding demographically and is organized into academies, learned societies and universities. While the agent intellect looked out over a cosmos emanating from eternity, in analog resonance with the human microcosm, the transcendental subject explores a universe infinitely open to scientific investigation, technical mastery and political liberation.
Reflexive knowledge has, in fact, always been informed by some technology, since it cannot be exercised without symbolic tools and thus the media that support those tools. But the next age of reflexive knowledge can properly be called technological because the technical augmentation of cognition is explicitly at the centre of its project. Technology now enters the loop of reflexive consciousness as the agent of the acceleration of its own augmentation.
This last point was no doubt glimpsed by a few pre—twentieth century philosophers, such as Condorcet in the eighteenth century, in his posthumous book of , Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Mind. But the truly technological dimension of reflexive knowledge really began to be thought about fully only in the twentieth century, with Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Norbert Wiener and Marshall McLuhan, to whom we should also add the modest genius Douglas Engelbart. The regulating ideal of the reflexive knowledge of the theosophical age was the agent intellect, and that of the scientific-critical age was the transcendental subject.
It also inherits its power to be reflected in finite intelligences. But, in contrast with the agent intellect, instead of descending from eternity, it emerges from the multitude of human actions immersed in space and time. Like the transcendental subject, algorithmic intelligence is rational, critical, scientific, purely human, evolutionary and always in a state of learning.
But the vocation of the transcendental subject was to reflexively contain the human universe. However, the human universe no longer has a recognizable face. The labyrinth of philosophies, methodologies, theories and data from the human sciences has become inextricably complicated. The transcendental subject has not only been dissolved in symbolic structures or anonymous complex systems, it is also fragmented in the broken mirror of the disciplines of the human sciences.
It is obvious that the technical medium of a new figure of reflexive knowledge will be the Internet, and more generally, computer science and ubiquitous communication. But how can symbol-manipulating automata be used on a large scale not only to reunify our reflexive knowledge but also to increase the clarity, precision and breadth of the teeming diversity enveloped by our knowledge?
The missing link is not only technical, but also scientific. We need a science that grasps the new possibilities offered by technology in order to give collective intelligence the means to reflect itself, thus inaugurating a new form of subjectivity. As the groundwork of this new science—which I call computational semantics—IEML makes use of the self-reflexive capacity of language without excluding any of its functions, whether they be narrative, logical, pragmatic or other.
Computational semantics produces a scientific image of collective intelligence: Scientific change will generate a phenomenological change,  since ubiquitous multimedia interaction with a holographic image of collective intelligence will reorganize the human sensorium. The last, but not the least, change: The community that possessed the previous figure of reflexive knowledge was a scientific community that was still distinct from society as a whole.
But in the new figure of knowledge, reflexive collective intelligence emerges from any human group. Like the previous figures—theosophical and scientific—of reflexive knowledge, algorithmic intelligence is organized in three interdependent aspects. In short, in the emergent unity of algorithmic intelligence, computational semantics calculates the cognitive simulation that augments and reflects the collective intelligence of the coming civilization.
At the time when the book was being written, the Web still existed only in the mind of Tim Berners-Lee. Computation, Cognition and Information Economy London: I responded at length in The Semantic Sphere to the prejudices of extremist post-modernism against scientific universality. But the only thing that Esperanto and IEML have in common is the fact that they are artificial languages.
They have neither the same form nor the same purpose, nor the same use, which invalidates criticisms of IEML based on the criticism of Esperanto. Le passage du Nord-Ouest Paris: Cosimo Classic, original in Arabic from the twelfth century. Yale University Press, original in Arabic from the twelfth century.
Davidson, Alfarabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, on Intellect. Oxford University Press, Gallimard, , 4 vol. Albert le Grand Paris: Je poursuis son travail. Je fais alors un pas de plus dans la recherche des conditions. Quant aux symboles, ils fournissent leur puissance aux processus intellectuels. De ce fait, les connexions linguistiques entre textes et hypertextes dynamiques se calculent automatiquement.
Les utilisateurs peuvent alors communiquer en IEML tout en utilisant la — ou les — langues naturelles de leur choix. New advances in digital media offer unprecedented memory capacities, an omnipresent channel of communication, and ever-growing computational power. We must ask ourselves how we can exploit this medium in order to augment our own social cognitive processes for human development. By fully recognizing the symbolic and social nature of human cognition, we could transform our current, opaque, global brain into a reflexive collective intelligence.
Written Interview in english: Video interview in english, sub-titled in portugese, about collective intelligence and the semantic sphere: Review in english, by Yair Neuman: Technology becoming an Hypercortex. Written interview in english and spanish. The Nature of Information. Toward a Mutation of Humanities and Social Sciences. Introduction to a Scientific Understanding of the Mind. Towards a Reflexive Intelligence. Observe the Collective Intelligence. Archives for posts with tag: This is just an example of the many ways collective intelligence will be represented, monitored and made reflexive in the semantic sensorium… To dig into the philosophical concept of algorithmic intelligence go there.
Categories English , paper. A complete modelling of language But how can a mirror of collective intelligence be constructed?
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The Semantic Sphere I have written two volumes on my project of developing the scientific framework for a reflexive collective intelligence, and I am currently writing the third. Philosophical genealogy of algorithmic intelligence The three ages of reflexive knowledge Since my project here involves a reflexive collective intelligence, I would like to place the theme of reflexive knowledge in its historical and philosophical context.
The scientific age and its transcendental subject With the European Renaissance, the use of the printing press, the construction of new observation instruments, and the development of mathematics and experimental science heralded a new era. The Aristotelian intellect becomes living intelligence.
This involves the effective cognitive activities of subjects, what is experienced spontaneously in time by living, mortal human beings. The intelligence becomes scientific investigation. I use this term to designate all undertakings by which the living intelligence becomes scientifically intelligible, including the technical and symbolic tools, the methods and the disciplines used in those undertakings. The intelligible becomes the intelligible intelligence, which is the image of the living intelligence that is produced through scientific and critical investigation. The technological age and its algorithmic intelligence Reflexive knowledge has, in fact, always been informed by some technology, since it cannot be exercised without symbolic tools and thus the media that support those tools.