I am Full Professor at the Philosophy Department of University Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis. I am also co-editor of the journal SubStance.
Quite generally, my work concerns the relationships between Imagination and Reason. I take Imagination in a sense akin to Bachelard’s, as a core of images present both in dreams and in fiction. I argue that this kind of Imagination necessarily interplays with all our rational processes, in science, technology and philosophy. This has lead me to try and put at work a philosophical style of writting which deliberately relies on fiction in order to ground a speculative perspective and enable a critical outlook at the contemporary world.
I first attempted to analyze the way in which imagination (dreams, fictions) penetrates scientific and technological domains : logic (in the work of Kurt Gödel), the cybernetics of Norbert Wiener, or the prospect of brain reading in neuroscience. In this perspective, I have investigated scientists’ archives. In the scientist’s papers, one can uncover the fictions, personal dreams, superstititon sometimes, which underlie definite scientific results.
Conversely, imagination transforms in its relationship to science and technology. Bizarre beings are born in this interplay, not only robots. Contemporary machines transform our fictions, in their very form, in their medium : how for instance in electronic art, and digital literature, new sorts of fiction can be put at play in a dispositif that no longer follows the linearity of a narrative. What kind of fiction (no longer exactly stories) can be staged in this way ? How are we to analyze this e-magination ?
Finally, this intertwining of imagination and reason raises a problem for the writing itself of philosophy. Part of my early work concerned the question of reason, and justification, in French philosophy (from Cavaillès and Bachelard up to contemporary authors). I now offer to consider fiction as a systematic method of philosophical investigation, in order to give to philosophy both a speculative impact and critical scope in contemporary contexts. In more personal works, I use fictions in order to investigate domains that the philosophical tradition has ignored, or repressed : wasted time, phobias, sea-sides. Domains from which philosophers seem to shy away, preferring to discuss work rather than laziness, or the noble Angst rather than the absurd phobia, or preferring to the uncertain shores of the sea-side the firm ground on which the tree of science may be rooted.
I am currently working on several projects. I am in the process of writing a book entitled “Syndromes technologiques”, where I attempt to investigate through fiction how contemporary technology transforms first person experience both in its content and its status. I also collaborate with Stéphane Degoutin and Gwenola Wagon on a film project called Welcome to Erewhon, a contemporary adaptation of Samuel Butler’s novel using foundfootage. With Paul Harris, from LMU, we are launching at SubStance a new series of born digital works: see here.
Some of my academic publications may be found here.