VUB Chair in Surveillance Studies Seminar XVII with Chantelle Gray (North West University Potchefstroom) - Algorithmic Finitude and the Violence of Closed-Loop Epistemologies: Re-situating Surveillance and Surveyance
In The Order of Things (2006), Foucault argues that knowledge, in the 18th and 19th centuries, is trapped in both the transcendental and empirical aspects of Man, meaning it follows a circular logic according to which the knowing subject both emerges and pre-exists. The paradox, of course, is that the subject and empirical object – Man – pre-exists the transcendental framework, but without the transcendental framework, the empirical object is incomprehensible. The result is that Man is both the condition of possibility of knowledge as well as the necessitated object of knowledge within the epistemic field that emerges from this possibility – and this is what Foucault means by the ‘analytic of finitude’.
In this paper I will argue that the analytic of finitude is no longer linked to the figure of Man in our contemporary algorithmic ecologies, but to digitality – to such an extent that we can conceive of a digital finitude. This, I will argue, is a better framework from which to theorise surveillance and surveyance because the violence thereof as it relates to digitality and thought is not sufficiently captured by existing frameworks of the panopticon and biopolitics (Foucault), control – which technically refers to modulation (Deleuze), or hyper-control (Stiegler), even though these do provide a basis from which to start.
Chantelle Gray is a contemporary Continental philosopher whose interests span critical algorithm studies, queer and critical feminist theories, experimental music studies, anarchism and Continental philosophy, especially the work of Deleuze and Guattari. The interdisciplinary nature of her work allows her to ask critical questions about how to take care of humans, technologies and ecologies in the digital age. She is the Chair of the Institute for Contemporary Ethics (http://contemporaryethics.org/), the co-convener of the South African Deleuze & Guattari Studies Conference (www.deleuzeguattari.co.za), and an editorial board member of Somatechnics. Her books include Deleuze and Anarchism, co-edited with Aragorn Eloff (2019, Edinburgh University Press) and Anarchism after Deleuze and Guattari (2022, Bloomsbury). She currently works in the School of Philosophy at the North-West University in South Africa.
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