Publication: Recursivity and Contingency by Yuk Hui

February 15, 2019

This book employs recursivity and contingency as two principle concepts to investigate into the relation between nature and technology, machine and organism, system and freedom. It reconstructs a trajectory of thought from an Organic condition of thinking elaborated by Kant, passing by the philosophy of nature (Schelling and Hegel), to the 20th century Organicism (Bertalanffy, Needham, Whitehead, Wiener among others) and Organology (Bergson, Canguilhem, Simodnon, Stiegler), and questions the new condition of philosophizing in the time of algorithmic contingency, ecological and algorithmic catastrophes, which Heidegger calls the end of philosophy.

The book centres on the following speculative question: if in the philosophical tradition, the concept of contingency is always related to the laws of nature, then in what way can we understand contingency in related to technical systems? The book situates the concept of recursivity as a break from the Cartesian mechanism and the drive of system construction; it elaborates on the necessity of contingency in such epistemological rupture where nature ends and system emerges. In this development, we see how German idealism is precursor to cybernetics, and the Anthropocene and Noosphere (Teilhard de Chardin) point toward the realization of a gigantic cybernetic system, which lead us back to the question of freedom. It questions the concept of absolute contingency (Meillassoux) and proposes a cosmotechnical pluralism. Engaging with modern and contemporary European philosophy as well as Chinese thought through the mediation of Needham, this book refers to cybernetics, mathematics, artificial intelligence and inhumanism.

“I hardly know how best to recommend this third major achievement in as many years by one of the most insightful younger philosophers. It reanimates an abandoned arc of reflection that includes cybernetics, organicism, and organology from both European and Chinese traditions to address aspirations for a pluralism of homes within the becoming of an artificial Earth.”

Carl Mitcham,

Colorado School of Mines

Readers can order the book from the publisher( ), and obtain a 30 percent discount by entering the code “RECC30,” the book in all formats is also available on Amazon:

Table of Content




Preface, by Howard Caygill


Introduction: A Psychedelic Becoming  §1. Adventure of Reason §2. Invisible Nature, Visible Mind  §3. Contingency and Finality §4. Beyond Mechanism and Vitalism  §5. The Great Completion §6. The Conflict of Organs §7. After Ecology, before Solar Catastrophe  §8. The Future Cosmologists


Chapter 1. Nature and Recursivity

§9. Kant and the Model of System §10. The Organic Condition of Philosophy §11. Recursivity in Fichte’s Ich §12. Circularity in Soul and Nature §13. Recursivity in Naturphilosophie §14. Organicist and Ecological Paradigm §15. General Organism, Gaia, or Artificial Earth


Chapter 2.  Logic and Contingency

§16. Recursivity in the Phenomenology of Spirit §17. Organicist and Reflective Logic §18. “Feebleness of the Notion in Nature” §19. Death of Nature as Affirmation of Logic §20. General Recursivity and Turing Machine §21. Wiener’s Leibnizianism §22. Cybernetics of Cybernetics §23. Information of Dialectics §24. Incomputability and Algorithmic Contingency


Chapter 3. Organized Inorganic

§25. From Organicism to Organology §26. Form and Fire, or Life §27. Descartes and the Mechanical Organs §28. Kant as Philosopher of Technology §29. Organology in Creative Evolution §30. Norms and Accidents §31. The Uncanny Fire


Chapter 4. Organizing Inorganic

§32. Universal Cybernetics, General Allagmatic §33. Recursivity in Psychic and Collective Individuation §34. An Organology of Contingency §35. Nature or Art §36. Tertiary Protention and Preemption §37. Inorganic Organicity or Ecology §38. The Principle of Ground


Chapter 5. The Inhuman That Remains

§39. Postmodernity and Recursivity §40. Technosphere or Christogenesis §41. Inhuman contra System §42. Contingency after System, or Technodiversity §43. Sensibility and Passibility §44. Organicism, Organology, and Cosmotechnics

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