Mechanology: Machine Typologies and the Birth of Philosophy of Technology in France (1932-1958)


My article on mechanology was just published in the latest issue of Systema. It’s a short article and focuses on a movement in the history of philosophy that was in many ways a failed project and a missed opportunity to create a new field for the philosophical study and science of machines. I address the work of Jacques Lafitte, Raymond Ruyer, and Gilbert Simondon.

Here’s the abstract:

“A number of French philosophies of technology appeared in the middle of the twentieth century—specifically between the years 1932-1958. They began with the hope of establishing a new field in France that was to be called mechanology (the study and science of machines). The first person to start this project was Jacques Lafitte (1884-1966). Lafitte published Réflexions sur la science des machines in 1932, Raymond Ruyer (1902-1987) published La cybernétique et l’origine de l’information in 1954, and Gilbert Simondon published Du mode d’existence des objets technique in 1958. In this article, I provide a brief survey of the mechanological theories presented in these works by focusing on their machine typologies (Lafitte’s levels of function, Ruyer‘s levels of information, and Simondon‘s levels of organization). The overall point is to show that French mechanology deserves further study.”


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