Ontogenetic Process, Emergence, Individuation
Over the past decade conversations across humanities and sciences are emerging around some provocative re-thinking of change, process, evolution, the ever unfolding dynamic of complex bio-socio-cultural-geophysical systems. Acknowledging that wet, unruly, feeling stuff exceeds the scope of Turing-equivalent algorithms, beyond affirming Galileo’s Eppur si muove! we ask, Come si muove? How?
The Ontogenesis research stream is animated by the growing consensus in the sciences and the humanities that the living world in all its modes—biological, semiotic, economic, affective, social, etc.—escapes finite schema of description. Based on a deep and sustained engagement with biological, physical, and computational sciences, operating in conjunction with anthropological, philosophical, and artistic modes of inquiry, the researchers believe that it is time to reach beyond the reigning techniques of computation and complexity to accommodate the open-ended, living processes of the world.
Rather than build a new cage to trap these multiple and entangled species of process and emergence, we’re feeling our way toward an unnamed scienza nuova that traverses a wide range of practices sharing certain features: non-reductiveness, extra-algorithmic experience, non-random yet non-deterministic variation, and processuality.
Some of us are also interested in socio-technical engagement outside academic institutions: how we frame and solve problems in areas as diverse as economics, law, medicine, religion and spirituality, urban development, biotechnology, surveillance and security.
- What are the motors of dynamic, change, growth, order out of disorder, ontogenesis? There have been many accounts since Heraclitus – principles of least action, Simondon’s individuation, Whitehead’s concrescence, Alexander’s symmetry / life – preserving process, Bataille’s excess in generalized economy.
- Specifically, how can we understand biological development and in particular biological rhythm in ways that do not reduce to physics time? We look at for example, recent work by Giuseppe Longo and Maël Montévil: Perspectives on Organisms. Biological time, Symmetries and Singularities (2014), and by Stu Kauffman: Humanity in a Creative Universe (2016).
- More generally, in what sense can the potential and the actual have the same ontological status? Here we can benefit from rich perspectives such as Deleuze’s concept of the virtual, Mike Epperson and Elias Zafiris’s Foundations of Relational Realism: A Topological Approach to Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Nature, Sha Xin Wei’s Poiesis and Enchantment in Topological Matter.
Ontogenetics Process Group (OPG) and Affiliates
Michael Epperson | California State University Sacramento
Gaymon Bennett | Arizona State University
Erin Espelie | University of Colorado Boulder
Stuart Kauffman | Santa Fe
Giuseppe Longo | Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris
Adam Nocek | Arizona State University
Sha Xin Wei | Arizona State University
Phillip Thurtle | University of Washington
Helga Wild | Providence
Cary Wolfe | Rice University
Lecture Series by Giuseppe Longo
Eds. Cary Wolfe and Adam Nocek, Special Volume on Ontogenesis Beyond Complexity, Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 28.3, June 2020.