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Action, perception and organisation.

Abstract : The paper demonstrates the central role of the action, from the "invention of the dynamics" in 1689-90 to understand the status of organic bodies and their relationship to substantiality. From this point of view, the action can be understood as a perception, that is to say, an expression of order, understood as an organization, ie the expression of a relationship between these bodies, to a higher level of complexity or subtlety. It is not only to express the world order, but also the transformations at work in the body in the form of folds and unfolded organs. Thus the complexity of the transformations correlates with "percevability", that is to say the ability of perception. Given this much, it is possible to think of action as organization on the condition that one accords an apprehension of organization as the expression of the agency of organs amongst themselves, at a superior level of complexity as well as of subtlety. It is a matter not only of expressing the order of the world, but also of the transformations at work in the body in the form of the enfoldings and the unfoldings of the organs. Thus the complexity of the transformations is correlated to perceptibility, that is to say to the capacity for perception. In the manner of an investigation at the phenomenal level that, while expressing the derivative forces, invokes their relation to the primitive forces and so leads us back to the substantial level, in this way collapsing two levels of intelligibility as well as the path permitting us to move from the one to the other, we hypothesize that an incursion into what Leibniz describes as a physics of practice or applied physics, which comprehends both chemistry and anatomy, could lead us to the specific form of substantiality implicated in the corporeal substance. Indeed, it seems to us that what it is that constitutes the specificity of each domain of knowledge is not so much the object that it has in view, as it is the explanatory modality that it adopts. It is in this respect that we seek to discover in what manner the intelligibility of organic bodies is apprehended by Leibniz. My hypothesis is thus that action - in its ambivalence, and, following upon the lesson of the dynamics, in its identification with perception - may be used as an index of the intelligibility of the organization that is at work in machines of nature, precisely to the extent that it proposes a connection between the corporeal dimension of an organic body and its substantial dimension.
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Contributor : Florence Thill <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, December 13, 2011 - 4:58:12 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, November 3, 2020 - 9:54:02 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00651504, version 1



Anne-Lise Rey. Action, perception and organisation.. Ohad Nachtomy and Justin Smith (eds.). Corporeal Substances and Machines of Nature in Leibniz., Springer, pp.157-173., 2011, coll. Synthese New Historical Library. ⟨halshs-00651504⟩



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