This essay discusses Paolo Virno's anchoring of the common in the linguistic faculties of Homo sapiens. It explores how Virno's figure of the anthropos intersects the hegemonic model of Man that largely underwrites the Anthropocene concept. In particular, it suggests that Virno engages species thinking without sufficiently addressing how it emerged in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries within global circuits of exploitation that shaped the categories of human and nonhuman in exclusionary ways. In order to further complicate Virno's anchoring of the common in properly human capacities, the essay discusses his use of Gilbert Simondon's philosophy of individuation. Building on Simondon's concept of preindividual, it reworks the common as a formation that requires the interplay of many kinds of beings, not all of which are human. At stake is not just the introduction of difference within human nature but a reflection on organizational forms capable of making present the geological and ecological forces that provide the conditions for the making of the common.
Skip Nav Destination
Miriam Tola; Species, Nature, and the Politics of the Common: From Virno to Simondon. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 April 2017; 116 (2): 237–255. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-3829379
Download citation file: