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If we want to prevent the 21st century from being as murderous (or more) as the previous century, we must start the race between lucidity and suicidal impulse – which implies understanding the practical and intellectual implications of the computerization process1.

Michel Volle – 2007 – Prédation et Prédateurs

Surprising statement! You don’t really expect to find the “computerization process” on the storey of existential subjects, a storey already occupied by “collapsologists” either in ecology, health, consumerism or politics …

But it should be specified that the “computerization process” must be understood, not as the extension of the field of computing or computer science, but rather as the expansion of the “Information Empire”, the so-called “Digital”. This Empire, as we are all aware now, is economic, cultural, political, scientific, artistic, linguistic, philosophical… It governs each of us, in any place, at any time. It saturates our environment. It is the problem as well as the solution. It is very young and already powerful. We call it sometimes “Mundus Numericus”.

Last year, 3 years after starting this blog, I discovered during my research this very singular book by Michel Volle, “Prédation et Prédateurs” (“Predation and Predators”). I had already convinced myself of the “existential power” of Mundus Numericus but I had not found, until this reading, any serious echo to this still imprecise conviction. Little surprising in fact… Philosophers, to speak only of them, have the unfortunate habit of returning science and technology to their “existentiell”, especially when they do not “feel” them (to my knowledge, perhaps only the French philosopher Georges Simondon had tried to overtake this limitation).

I have therefore chosen to highlight this very contemporary and appropriate statement from Michel Volle, still uncertain and fragile but nevertheless dynamic, rather than a timeless quote from a “great” philosopher, which would be a much better banner for a finish line than for our start line.

Thus, Puissance & Raison is a kind of exhibition, that of the catches from the suggested quest towards “lucidity“. Perhaps you will find here, dear reader, some echoes to your concerns, some useful ideas, some paths to follow, some surprises too… and merely some pleasure in reading.

This blog is meant to be:

  • Open; a public place, not a cenacle.
  • Encyclopedic; necessary method.
  • Unsure; the very principle of all exploration.
  • Political; whenever possible, that is, whenever we have “understood” and our thought can rest.
  • Critical; in the philosophical sense, of course.
  • Free; necessary presumption.

This blog is not meant to be:

  • A news feed; we are already saturated.
  • Politicized; understanding and “ready-made thinking” don’t mix.
  • Prophetic; there are only historians for good prophecies and media gurus for bad ones. I am neither.
  • Optimistic / pessimistic; consequence of the previous point.
  • Pro or Con technique; technique being foreign to morality, and even contingent.
  • On social networks; matter of method.

 

Arnaud Bénicourt
January 23, 2021


Published in 2018, this Manifesto exposes more exhaustively some of the issues of Puissance & Raison. It is still quite valid today.


Note for English-speaking readers

All articles were originally written in French and some of them translated and slightly edited for an English audience. I did my best effort, using automatic translation tools like DeepL, Google Translate, contextual dictionaries like Linguee, advices and my own moderate English skills to deliver understandable and faithful translations. I acknowledge the difficulty of the exercise, since in French I will borrow words and expressions from philosophy, mathematics, cognitive science, sociology, etc. without mastering the English version of the corresponding idioms like a professional. I sincerely apologize if you feel sometimes unsettled by the text. Do not hesitate to “complain”, especially if your intent is to bring positive advice, comments, questions, etc. for your satisfaction and that of other readers.


1. Si l’on veut éviter que le XXIème siècle ne soit aussi meurtrier (ou plus) que le siècle qui l’a précédé, il faut engager la course entre la lucidité et l’impulsion suicidaire – ce qui suppose de comprendre les implications pratiques et intellectuelles du processus d’informatisation.