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Preindividuation, Individuation, and Bacteria: Revisiting Gilbert Simondon’s Philosophy through the Hologenome

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This essay implicitly broaches the question of how science and philosophy—microbiology and metaphysics—work together, reinforcing one another. Its explicit focus is the work of French philosopher Gilbert Simondon, his idea of individuation, and the growing information about bacteria, our multiple microbiomes, and their manifold genomes. The argument that twenty-first century understandings of the personal self must include the microbiome as well as the mind has implications for interspecies communication. The author explores the biological facts that corroborate Simondon’s materialist metaphysics of individuation, rethinking the evolutionary individual and the fundamental place given to competition within Darwinian evolution and placing what she terms a “biotechnical evolutionary individual” at the core of Simondon’s philosophy of individuation.
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Keywords: Bacteria; Simondon; evolution; individuation; microbiome; self

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Professor of Aesthetic Studies, University of Texas, Dallas

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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