Jean Baudrillard & Simulations
March 31, 2009 1:29 PM   Subscribe

Jean Baudrillard's stance on artificiality/simulation i.e.: "The Perfect Crime" & "The Vital Illusion" - where can I find some critiques of this?

I'm supposed to write a term paper on JB,, and forgive me for my naivety but his thoughts strike me as being contrived anti-technological rhetoric.

I'm pretty sure I understand what is being said, but I strongly dislike it at the same time, and I think this comes down to some of his core ideas: particularly, I don't think there is anything unique to our biology or to our thoughts that "perfect simulations" would fail to simulate. It seems to me that when he talks about our "detour" from natural processes to artificial ones as being "collective suicide", he is at worst making a grand naturalistic fallacy, and at best that he is hinging on some kind of implicit divine essence that doesn't exist -- but maybe that is the point??

I was wondering if there were any pertinent authors or articles that have gone at this topic from the other side of the fence: hopefully authors who somehow with the above-mentioned texts or JB's writing?
posted by tybeet to Science & Nature (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
It's important to understand Baudrillard in the context of how other intellectuals were writing about technology and mass media at that time. Like a lot of those kinds of readings, they are more useful as a way of understanding how things were thought about rather than how you yourself should be thinking about them. There's a book chapter out there that really does a good job at explaining where the usefulness of Baudrillard ends in the intellectual discussion on artificiality and simulation, but I can't exactly remember what it is. It might be Colin Lankshear's & Peter McLaren's chapter in this book. I can look when I'm in the office tommorrow.
posted by mrmojoflying at 1:44 PM on March 31, 2009


In a broad sense, what Baudrillard is saying is important, and calling it contrived anti-technological rhetoric is somewhat missing his more major point of symbolic ontology replacing the 'real' via simulacra and simulation. Keep in mind that if he is guilty of anything, it is probably not the naturalistic fallacy. G.E. Moore introduced the term in the context of Anglo-American analytic philosophy with the Classic Open Question Argument, incidentally spawning the century of metaethics that we've unfortunately had to endure. I am not versed well enough in Baudrillard to know if he defined good with closed parameters (like Bentham or Mill) but it is probably not the terminology to use in your paper unless your specifically discussing his conception of the good. Maybe try starting here.
posted by ageispolis at 2:07 PM on March 31, 2009


i do not claim to be an expert on baudrillard, but i do like the entry in the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. they have an excellent bibliography to furnish some other sources if it doesn't quite fit your needs.
posted by ashabanapal at 2:49 PM on March 31, 2009


I don't think Baudrillard's ideas on artificiality and simulation were specifically about technology, but, as ageispolis said, they were more about symbolic ontology and social dynamics.

Unless you're referring to particular references in his works that mention technology, maybe?
posted by destro at 2:51 PM on March 31, 2009


Thanks for the comments so far.

It's important to understand Baudrillard in the context of how other intellectuals were writing about technology and mass media at that time.

This is one thing I find I have a hard time flexing my mind to do: is to see things in terms of historical currents that sweep in different directions, Baudrillard being one such current against a torrent of others. I think this is partially because my training is not in philosophy or history, but I think I see your point.

...is probably not the terminology to use in your paper unless your specifically discussing his conception of the good

I probably won't even proceed on the grounds that he is committing any kind of fallacy because I realize the shoes I'd have to put on to do so would be rather large, and this isn't the kind of term paper where I'll be going in that direction. I guess I was more trying to get across, in my mention of the naturalistic fallacy my own personal gut reaction to his work, and to see if any of his contemporaries had launched from a similar position.

Unless you're referring to particular references in his works that mention technology, maybe?

Admittedly I'm not given much Baudrillard to work with. One piece I am to read, and where he gets rather specific about technology, is in a chapter titled "The Final Solution", from "The Vital Illusion" - speaking about the erasure of death and sex through cloning and artificial means of production, and the erasure of identity through a kind of social cloning with media and education.
posted by tybeet at 3:28 PM on March 31, 2009


Perhaps this will help: Postmodernism Generator. Reload the page a few times for new content.

OK... it won't help you at all, and I jest, sort of, and I'm no philosopher. Back in grad school I had to read a bunch on this stuff... and it always struck me as it strikes you... contrived anti-technological rhetoric.

Here's Richard Dawkins on Postmodernism.

The only reason I post these, is because when I was in grad school reading this stuff, I thought I was just not getting it... not clever enough. I too thought it was contrived rhetoric, and something akin to literary emperor's clothing. My fellow grads felt the same, but no one would actually question the emperor.

I doubt this will give you any perspective, other than letting you know your contrived rhetoric opinion is shared.
posted by ecorrocio at 3:50 PM on March 31, 2009


You may want to look up what Mark Poster and Douglas Kellner have had to say about Baudrillard in various places--they'll supply you with the historical context. Poster's intro to his edition of Baudrillard's Selected Writings would be a good place to start.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:09 PM on March 31, 2009


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