Plastir Number 22 – 03/2011


Herbert Alexander SIMON is one of these encyclopedic researchers and pioneers of the United States of America which clarified the information sciences in the broad sense term: cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence (IA), sociology, organizations, citizenship. Born in the Wisconsin in 1916, PhD in Political Sciences of the University of Chicago, Nobel Prize of economy in 1978, he was initially impassioned by the significance of rationality in science, creating the theory of limited or bounded rationality being opposed to the substantive rationality of the Neo-classics. Like Claude Parthenay (2005) shows it perfectly, Simon integrated very early the information theory into psychology under the influence of Wallas, Ely, Angell and George and in particular applied it to intentionality, showing the limits of the individual, procedural rationality or the rationality dependent on the process of decision-action as well as the paramount role of the man-machine interaction. The computer, will he say thus in the Fifties, “allows to systematize the human thought and thus comes from there to say what is the human thought”. Teaching in political sciences in the Illinois Institutes of Technology then in the Graduate School of Industrial Administration in the Carnegie Institute of Technology of Pittsburgh where he will develop the bonds between economy and behavioural science, he will receive the Turing price in 1975 with A. Newell for his work of pioneer in IA. Indeed, as soon as in the Fifties, he will state with Hawkins a theorem solving the problems involved in the matrices of input-output and will perceive the considerable stakes of the data processing that he will call the artificial intelligence. Expert in economy near the presidents of the USA, L. Johnson and R. Nixon during the Sixties ten and member of the Academy of Science of the US, he will not cease showing an active citizenship and an open-minded ability in the cross fields of the human behaviours and information sciences. Prolix author translated in the majority of the languages of the world (fond deposited in the Memorial H. Simon of the University Carnegie-Melon in Pittsburgh. Pensylvania, USA), he remains nevertheless insufficiently known in France where economists like Parthenay and systemicians like J-L Le Moigne work for the diffusion of his work. This is why we decide to diffuse in PLASTIR on a particular choice dealing with the science and art articulation, subject carrying, if it is, the values of PSA. In fact, the title of the paper speaks about itself. It treats of the unity of arts and sciences and opens with the thought of the discovery. H. Simon draws up us in the introduction and all along the text his approach of the two cultures. The modernity of the tone – the paper is published in the sixties ten ten – and his will to fill the pit which separates the scientists from the artists place us from the start under the epistemic angle of attack of Simon. Far from limiting himself to polemics like what is done still nowadays, he considers, under cover of the paradigm of data processing, the process of the thought as a whole in which our two hemispheres – the intuitive one and the analytical one – are expanded, an inseparable whole that it is vain to want to divide, just like the inter- or Transdisciplinary access that he very early dedicates to the all the subjects that he approaches. And there, Simon is also a precursor, because he will understand very soon that nobody can seize a phenomenon as complex as economy or information under a monolithic point of view. As a proof, this relation of man with the mathematical symbols, with computers, psychology, anthropo-sociology, philosophy and the IA of course. Consequently, Simon will study the systems of symbols under the biophysical angle: how the brain and the machine treat information? What will bring a science which treats man-machine relations, cognitive psychology, semantics? And like always, he will go very far in the formal and logico-deductive aspects of these postulates, introducing concept-key like the re-cognition, while leading to the comprehension of the formalisms – in particular mathematical in term of language applied – data-processing – and spoken – allusion to Chomsky -. One determines here all the extent of the prospect for Simon who does not theorize in the vacuum but concretizes his discoveries or advanced works. Thus, he in this context will say “ [….] to understand a fairy tale, it can be necessary to understand what is a « story ». This information, it also can be stored in the form of a structure of list which describes a prototype history. […] Comprehension of a problem of physics implies creation in memory of a new structure of symbols which describes the typical location which this problem concerns. The components of this diagram of the problem are occurrences of the prototype diagrams corresponding to the types of the concepts which are used in the problems of physics, like the lever for example. In the same way, comprehension of a history implies creation in memory of a new structure of symbols, of an arborescent form, which will replace the linear chain of the symbols constituting this history by another form revealing the « grammar of the story« . ” All the phenomenal interaction shows through there, just as the will of the author to release a setting in equation having a sufficient efficiency to translate a fairy tale. “In both cases, the key resides in the capacity to extract the semantic significance enchased in the language”. The conclusion of Simon is limpid and prevails in the working creativity, as much in the gesture of the sculptor, the grammar of a musical composition that in the Archimedes’s discovery. And Simon to conclude with a common language, a mathematical characteristic, an education necessary to any total apprehension of knowledge, process of thought in its entirety.


Mariana THIERIOT LOISEL & Marc-Williams DEBONO are respectively philosopher and neurobiologist (the readers are requested to refer to the preceding publications of PLASTIR for the biographies of the authors). They sign here a joint article on the topic of the non-intentional conscience, humbly raising the torch lit by H. Simon on the plan of the central role of the intention or of the unicity of the common languages to adopt to approach the process of the thought. In fact, the tone is given in the first lines: one cannot think today without assuming “at the same time the universality of the ethical problems posed in the various disciplines of the knowledge and the singularity of each answer”. In other words, without integrating the complex relations between cognition and conscience, intention and conscience, information and conscience. And the authors to quote another thinker of the universal, Francisco Varela, who deciphered the bonds between IA, cognition and intention by proposing several concept-key like the auto-organization and the enaction, resulting in clearing the metacognitive field, the why and the how of the non-intentional attitudes that MTL approaches under the angle of the perlaboration and MWD on that of neuroplasticity and the autonomy of mind. What does it leave from there? Clearly, a common background: the human meta-knowledge and a complementary approach of the “perverse” advance borrowed by the consciousness to lead us to act. The process of perlaboration aims at rewriting the knowledge of modernity according to Lyotard who takes as a starting point the Freudian approach: capacity of reception, open-minded, even empathy supporting “the truth of the other”, the free will, the truth of the act in fine, “the pass it” (Durcharbeitung) through, in other words, the translation. Thus the lapses, refusals and other treasons of our unconscious, our ancestral memories which drown the intentionality of consciousness, enable us to exceed resistances: “to be ready to receive what the thought is not prepared to think, here of what the thought consists” [….] “to think it is all to question, including the thought, the question and the process”. The perlaboration, says MTL by quoting Freud, is to fill the gaps of the dynamic memory of way and to face resistances due to repressions “what causes a transformation of the processes of thoughts which before unconscious become conscious”. Perlabore the meaning collectively further pushes the process still, until on the Husserlian grounds insofar as it becomes necessary to exceed the dialectics between intentional and non-intentional consciousness. From where the peremptory necessity for the people to decipher this non latent intentionality, this culpability which broods at the dawn of serious conflicts, which could be exteriorized, planetary and fratricidal in the revolution, or interiorized in the individual suicide. On the other end, the brain-world which describes MWD is only the internal reflection of these boiling, the thought body of the thought which takes part in its flesh and its being in the perlaboration. How to doubt its efficiency, whereas it confers on the spirit a certain autonomy which does not deliver it from its biological roots, which on the contrary anchor it in the noblest of these tasks: to transcribe the inexpressible one, the intention written and registered in the individual, which does him genetically man and humanly “epigenetic”, which means in our context actor of his own unfolding or becoming. However, it is the neuroplasticity which translates with the highest degree this inference: the brain rebuilds the world in which it was built, keeps from this the immutable traces and creates new ones unceasingly, confers on who carries it sensitivity and perpetual re-cognition within the meaning of Simon. The memorizing of the layers continues. The identification is born. Any shelf is possible. Especially when the representation impressed of the ceaseless affects which cross our future to act hoists the red flag: that of autism or schizophrenia. Plasticity is with double edge. With us of knowing to guide it. We must differentiate phantasm and reality, to sail at sight between what is intention and not intention, between what is us and what is our image. “Knowledge is acquired in the duality between the risk to abort and the tendency to transcend. However, this extraordinary propensity to phantasm, to mythologize is the characteristic of man. Engraved by the language and the metaphor, it introduces the key-point of cleavage between reality and imaginary ”, dixit MWD. Extremely fortunately, we have many parapets in the direction where plasticity admits amazing degrees of inferences, which plunge in the heart of humanity and cosmos. “Here a second degree of plasticity, where the epic joke between consciousness and unconsciousness; here this amazing virtuality, mysterious, which gives the unknown. Thus, the brain does not reproduce the world: it is the world, in the meaning where it emerged by benefiting from the chance (like the other large evolutionary features), but that it is forged in the furrow dug of a world of which all indicates to us that it is itself the fruit of a  » chance », all indicates anything to us… or perhaps an ontic gleam? This gleam, it is the unity of the generative principles leading to man” And this systemic metaplasticity joined the psychic plasticities of the individual, his propensity to perlabore, to divide this virgin universe – because always renewed – of the essential act, to delimit the border between disproportion and madness, the intentional and non-intentional consciousness.


Joseph E. BRENNER is doctor in organic chemistry of the University of Wisconsin, logician and epistemologist. Member of several societies such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science or the New York Academy of Sciences in the USA and the CIRET in Europe, he is interested in the information theory, the formal and abstract logical systems, complexity and philosophy. Author of many papers, he in particular published “Logic in reality” (Springer Verlag, NY, 2008), a major work analyzing the logical systems inscribed in reality in which he deciphers the systemology of Stephan Lupasco. These systems, and the dialectical approach which he developed around them, were the subject of a preceding publication in PLASTIR n°14 to which the reader will be able to refer. In this new paper, J. Brenner, who contributed to the book impassioning of Prof Heller-Roazen (University of Princeton) heading “Echolalias: on the forgetting of language” translated by Justine Pram and published at Le Seuil Ed. (Paris, 2007), is interested in semantics of the lapse of memory and plasticity of the language. Heller-Roazen indeed gives a new meaning to echolalia: it does not act as a morbid repetition, but like a translation owing to the fact that each language is the echo of another, an echo of the childish prattle of which the obliteration or the lapse of memory generated the spoken langage. In addition to this allusion to the work of Jakobson on the prelinguistic stage, he quotes many examples: mythical, literary, mystical or poetic of these Echolalias, these forgotten dialects, these crowned texts while calling in Freud, Dante or Poe without omitting the tower of Babel… Joseph Brenner thus proposes to us to approach Heller-Roazen under the angle of the plasticians and summarizes his approach as follows:“The analyses made by Daniel Heller-Roazen of evolutionary linguistic processes in his poetic book, Echolalias, offer the opportunity for an unusually concentrated demonstration of both the logic of Lupasco and the Debono concept of plasticity. The sub-title of Echolalias is: On the forgetting of language, a demonstration that there is a form of forgetting that is at the heart of change in language, its constituents and its poetry. Consisting largely of brief comments on the Chapters of Echolalias, this article first relates Heller-Roazen’s discussion of forgetting to the logic and epistemology of Stephane Lupasco, summarized also in my recent book, Logic in Reality. I show that, in Echolalias, the critical dialectics of “the same and not the same” are given vivid exemplification. The article includes a brief discussion of the implied distinctions in Echolalias between speaking and writing, and their relation to forgetting, by reference to the Of Grammatology of Jacques Derrida. Heller-Roazen draws on an enormous range of original sources in Greek, Hebrew and Arabic, as well as the psychology of Freud and recent scholarship in philology and linguistics. The present article draws primarily on Echolalias, but relates it to current issues in the logic and philosophy of language, mind and art, as well as to work in cognitive science and epistemology, in particular studies by Marc-Williams Debono of the plasticity of language. In a jointly-authored Section on this subject, we show that Heller-Roazen’s basic approach is relevant to processes taking place today in cyberspace and elsewhere. Emergent forms of plasticity in memory and art offset the catastrophic forgetting of how to speak and write that one observes, contributing to a potential “ternary ethics” of the emerging information-based society of which they are a part.”


Edgar MORIN is sociologist, philosopher, emeritus director of research at the CNRS, chair of the association for the complex thought, of the ISCC (Institute of sciences of the communication) and of the European agency for the Culture. He is also the author of the six volumes of “The Method ”. The Centre Edgar Morin (IACC-EHESS) counts and continues his work from the transdisciplinary point of view. Member of honour of PSA, he delivers to us in this issue of PLASTIR an intimate part of his work, of his history, of the genesis of the Method also, through his readings. From the novels of his adolescence – Romain Roland or Anatole France – to his discovery of the fundamental texts of Husserl and Heidegger while passing by Atlan, Bateson, Georges Bataille or Rimbaud, one discovers the weak cultural borrows of his childhood who will allow him to create on a virgin space a multiform work, vast and deep and the strong one borrows of “the maternal substance” which he missed so much and which he will seek his life lasting through the books, the empathy with the others, his attachment with his roots, with “his Mediterranean matrie” and with the religion. One understands better his will savage of integration, of sharing of knowledges expressing themselve as much on the political field as on the history, sociological or epistemological one. Thus he will say: “[…] I would be easily suited, like any individual nourished by several cultures, attached with each one but absolutising no one, with becoming citizen of the planet Ground. ”. This lived contradiction, he will feed it, at the age where one doubts all, where the readings mark for always, with the thought of Pascal, Heraclite, Dostoïevski, Marx and Hegel, but also of Rousseau and Montaigne. Dostoïevski more still than the others, where the suffering of the heroes of The possessed like Aliocha, Ivan, Muchkine or Stravoguine always haunt his mind, led him to the idea of compassion or of homos sapiens/demens in “The lost paradigm”. Deeply human, Edgar Morin does not cease approaching what I will name the philosophy of the reliances, a turned philosophy at the same time towards what opposes and what brings closer. That is the case of Celine and Proust, “From the truth of the contrary ideas” or the inextricable bonds and no bonds between the faith, the reason and the doubt incarnated by the thought of Pascal, its relativisation between the parts and the whole, the multiple dialogics which result from this, the assumption of the contradictions formulated by Hegel, their illusory going beyond or perhaps later carried out with the discovery of Heracliteans thinker like Lupasco. Thus it is also the case for the human uniduality, the anthropo-sociology and the praxis as Morin will develop after having read Marx. Here is profiled the writer-resistant influenced by Malraux and “the idea that each one carries in oneself, in his singularity even, the human condition” (Montaigne) driving by the transverse way with the concept of historisation which will lead Morin to begin the first part from The method in the Sixties ten ten. Of his communist past at the time of the Second World War, one will retain this declaration: “I would even say that my adhesion to the Stalinist Communism, against which all my former political culture (doubting between libertarian radicalisms or Trotskyites and the reformism of the frontism of Bergery) had almost immunized myself, was only possible under these particular conditions. But this undeniable intellectual regression for me was related to a decisive existential progression: it is what allowed me to be free, to risk my life, to face death, to leave the chrysalidary state of which I couldn’t undoubtedly, if there had not had the war, never be brought out.” Follows one period open on surrealism, the multidimensionality of the death, the poetic one also marked by the reading of Otto Rank, Breton and Battaille. The events of Algeria, the Hungarian revolution, the inversion of the fourth Republic, the revisionism mark then the course of the history and the readings of Edgar Morin who directs the journal Arguments relate to Adorno and the school of Frankfurt. One is then in the Sixties ten: a changement on the literary point of view for Morin, with the discovery of the artificial intelligence, the cybernetics of von Neumann, the car-organized systems of von Foerster, of cognitive sciences, where curiously he will join again with the metaphysics questions, the ethics, philosophy of his adolescence. Actually, that follows a logic which he always instilled: to nourish major currents of the literature without never letting itself overflow; to always keep the mind in awakening to seize the perpetual combat of the contrary ideas, their substantial antagonism, which leads him to live and write knowledge and the human identity in perpetual movement in a spirit of truth. “The Book always stimulated, lit, guided my food, and reciprocally my food, remained forever interrogative, never ceased in calling with the Book”, he will conclude here. One knows the continuation, a great work of writing and the major work of Morin, whose sixth volume on Ethics was published in 2004.

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