David Aubin: A Cultural History of Catastrophes and Chaos: Around the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, France 1958-1980 (1998)
Filed under thesis | Tags: · biology, catastrophe theory, chaos theory, history of mathematics, history of science, linguistics, mathematics, oulipo, physics, science, semiotics, structuralism, turbulence
“This is the story of a group of scientists who, in the local context of the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques (IHÉS), France, contributed to the elaboration of catastrophe theory and deterministic chaos theory. Starting with a study of the role of Bourbaki’s mathematics on the French intellectual scene (and especially with respect to structuralism), this dissertation examines the resources from topology, embryology, and linguistics used by René Thom to construct catastrophe theory.
It describes the foundation of the IHÉS by Léon Motchane in 1958 and the ideology of fundamental research that shaped it. It reviews the history of structural stability for differential equations, focusing on the work of Aleksandr Andronov and Solomon Lefschetz, among others, and the synthesis achieved in the 1960s by Stephen Smale at the University of California, Berkeley. These mathematical developments were used by Thom to develop new modeling practices. The IHÉS, which welcomed topologists such as E. Christopher Zeeman and Ralph Abraham, played a role in developing modeling practices based on recent advances in topology. A physics professor at the IHÉS, David Ruelle, together with Dutch mathematician Floris Takens, adapted the modeling practices of these ‘applied topologists’ and proposed a mechanism for the onset of turbulence, thereby introducing the concept of strange attractors. Looking at the history of fluid mechanics, I argue that Ruelle’s work displaced earlier emphases on fundamental laws, like the Navier-Stokes equations, and focused on the modes of representation rather than representations themselves. A certain Bourbakization of physics and the advent of the computer shaped this evolution.
Finally, focusing on convention, and taking the Rayleigh-Bénard system as a boundary system, various communities’ responses to the Ruelle-Takens model are examined, in particular hydrodynamic stability theorists, phase transition physicists and Pierre-Gilles de Gennes’s group, and chemical physicists orbiting Ilya Prigogine. Prior interest in developing interdisciplinary approaches for the study of turbulence helped the adaptation of a dynamical systems approach for the study of natural phenomena, greatly inspired by the work of Smale, Thom, and Ruelle.” (Abstract)
Ph. D. thesis
Filed under book | Tags: · affect, alphabet, body, computing, gesture, god, language, mathematics, networks, posthuman, representation, self, semiotics, speech, subjectivity, technology
Becoming Beside Ourselves continues the investigation that the renowned cultural theorist and mathematician Brian Rotman began in his previous books Signifying Nothing and Ad Infinitum…The Ghost in Turing’s Machine: exploring certain signs and the conceptual innovations and subjectivities that they facilitate or foreclose. In Becoming Beside Ourselves, Rotman turns his attention to alphabetic writing or the inscription of spoken language. Contending that all media configure what they mediate, he maintains that alphabetic writing has long served as the West’s dominant cognitive technology. Its logic and limitations have shaped thought and affect from its inception until the present. Now its grip on Western consciousness is giving way to virtual technologies and networked media, which are reconfiguring human subjectivity just as alphabetic texts have done for millennia.
Alphabetic texts do not convey the bodily gestures of human speech: the hesitations, silences, and changes of pitch that infuse spoken language with affect. Rotman suggests that by removing the body from communication, alphabetic texts enable belief in singular, disembodied, authoritative forms of being such as God and the psyche. He argues that while disembodied agencies are credible and real to “lettered selves,” they are increasingly incompatible with selves and subjectivities formed in relation to new virtual technologies and networked media. Digital motion-capture technologies are restoring gesture and even touch to a prominent role in communication. Parallel computing is challenging the linear thought patterns and ideas of singularity facilitated by alphabetic language. Barriers between self and other are breaking down as the networked self is traversed by other selves to become multiple and distributed, formed through many actions and perceptions at once. The digital self is going plural, becoming beside itself.
With a Foreword by Timothy Lenoir
Publisher Duke University Press, 2008
ISBN 0822342006, 9780822342007
Filed under book | Tags: · 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, anthropology, history, language, linguistics, literary theory, marxism, philosophy, psychoanalysis, semiotics, sociology, structuralism, unconscious
Claude Lévi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan, Louis Althusser, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault—the ideas of this group of French intellectuals who propounded structuralism and poststructuralism have had a profound impact on disciplines ranging from literary theory to sociology, from anthropology to philosophy, from history to psychoanalysis. In this long-awaited translation, History of Structuralism examines the thinkers who made up the movement, providing a fascinating elucidation of a central aspect of postwar intellectual history.
François Dosse tells the story of structuralism from its beginnings in postwar Paris, a city dominated by the towering figure of Jean-Paul Sartre. The work of Saussure became the point of departure for a group of younger scholars, and the outcome was not only the doom of Sartre as intellectual leader but the birth of a movement that would come to reconfigure French intellectual life and would eventually reverberate throughout the Western world.
Dosse provides a readable, intelligible overall account, one that shows the interrelationship among the central currents of structuralism and situates them in context. Dosse illuminates the way developments in what are usually distinct fields came to exert such influence on each other, showing how the early structuralists paved the way for later developments and for recent discourses such as postmodernism. The cast of characters related by Dosse includes those mentioned above as well as Roman Jakobson, Julia Kristeva, Pierre Bourdieu, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari, Tzvetan Todorov, and many others. Chapters are devoted to major figures, and Dosse has done extensive interviews with the major and minor figures of the movement, furnishing an intellectual history in which historical players look back at the period.
This first comprehensive history of the structuralist movement is an essential guide to a major moment in the development of twentieth-century thought, one that provides a cogent map to a dizzying array of personalities and their ideas. It will be compelling reading for those interested in philosophy, literary theory, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and psychoanalysis.
First published in French as Histoire du structuralisme, Éditions La Découverte, Paris, 1991, 1992
Translated by Stefan Barmann
Publisher Junius, Hamburg, 1996, 1997
ISBN 3885062666 & 3885062674
618 & 619 pages
Translated by Deborah Glassman
Publisher University of Minnesota Press, 1997
ISBN 0816622418, 9780816622412 & 0816623716, 9780816623716
488 & 534 pages
Geschichte des Strukturalismus. Bd 1: Das Feld des Zeichens, 1945-1966, Alt link.
Geschichte des Strukturalismus, Bd 2: Die Zeichen der Zeit, 1967-1991, Alt link.
History of Structuralism. Vol 1: The Rising Sign, 1945-1966, Alt link. (via falsedeity)
History of Structuralism. Vol 2: The Sign Sets, 1967-Present, Alt link.
Download all four volumes (ZIP)
Filed under book | Tags: · biography, language, literature, semiotics
Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes is the great literary theorist’s most original work—a brilliant and playful text, gracefully combining the personal and the theoretical to reveal Roland Barthes’s tastes, his childhood, his education, his passions and regrets.
Originally published as Roland Barthes par Roland Barthes, Editions du Seuil, 1975
Translated by Richard Howard
Publisher University of California Press, with Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1977
Download (images are of low quality)Comment (1)
Filed under book | Tags: · art, language, linguistics, meaning, semiotics, sound recording
As Lévi-Strauss writes: “These innovatory ideas, towards which I was no doubt drawn by my own thought but as yet with neither the boldness nor the conceptual tools necessary to organize them properly, were all the more convincing in that Jakobson’s exposition of them was performed with that incomparable art which made him the most dazzling teacher and lecturer that I had ever been lucky enough to hear.”
This book is marked by Jakobson’s elegance and demonstrative powers. Jakobson never pursues abstract and sometimes difficult course of his argument without illuminating it by examples from a great variety of languages and from the arts.
Originally published in France by Les Editions de Minuit, 1976
Translated by John Mepham
Preface by Claude-Lévi Strauss
Publisher The MIT Press, 1978