Simondon, Psychic Individuation, and the Transindividual Unconscious

Dr Andrew Lapworth1

1University of New South Wales, Canberra, Canberra, Australia


Despite decades of critiques, the Freudian image of an interiorised, repressive, and individualized unconscious continues to exert a powerful stranglehold over contemporary geography. In this paper, I locate the productivity of an encounter with the philosophy of Gilbert Simondon in terms of its transformative implications for how we might think the unconscious today. Simondon’s characterisation of the affective-emotive dimension of the unconscious in his text Psychic and Collective Individuation is meant to be anti-Freudian and chiefly intended to counter not only the hylomorphic topography of the psyche, but, just as importantly, the substantialist metaphysics that has accompanied its conceptualisation in psychoanalytic theory. In his text, Simondon presents a thought of the ‘unconscious’ not as an already-individuated substance or entity but instead as a metastable process of individuation. This paper draws out two key implications for contemporary geographical understandings of the unconscious. First, I highlight how Simondon takes us beyond the psychoanalytical fixation on negativity and repression through his understanding of the transductive character of unconscious forces and their imbrication in the creation of new forms of life. Second, I explore how Simondon’s concept of the ‘transindividual’ opens up new possibilities for thinking the relation of unconscious thought and its outside.


Andrew Lapworth is a Lecturer in Cultural Geography at the University of New South Wales, Canberra.

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