On Neon and Creal, an interview


Listen to the show here

“On today’s show, guest host Chali Pittman examines the magical world of neon signs, with three guests.

Luis de Miranda is a philosopher and author of Being and Neonness, a new cultural history of neon that will be published by MIT Press next month. He’s an international philosopher whose thinking centers around the creation of reality under a model he calls crealism.

Tom Zickuhr is a commercial neon signmaker in Madison. The neon signs crafted in his east side shop light up businesses all across the city. His work is also shown at the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He’s a lecturer at UW-Madison, where he teaches students how to bend neon. Every spring his students have an exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art, and this year’s exhibition is coming up in early May.

Meryl Pataky is an Oakland-based sculptor and fine artist, and curator of She Bends—a national of exhibition of work by women neon benders. The Milwaukee iteration of She Bends is on view at Milwaukee’s Var West gallery until Saturday, March 23rd.”



On Histosophy (New Paper, Open Access)

Luis de Miranda  Emile Chabal, Global Intellectual History


In this essay, we sketch out a method, histosophy, which makes possible the study of intellectual history and conceptual genealogy both in depth and over long periods of time. Histosophy uses digital tools to survey ‘large issues within small compasses.’ A genealogy of signifiers, it considers metonymic parts of a problem in order to contribute precisely and coherently to a larger perspective. We outline the theoretical contours of our approach. We exemplify how it works in practice by looking at the signifier ‘esprit de corps’, the study of which is presented in detail in the histosophical book The Genealogy of Esprit de Corps (Edinburgh University Press, 2019). The phrase ‘esprit de corps’ has been widely used since the eighteenth century in different discourses (political, military, sociological, etc.), but it is sufficiently limited that its genealogy can be traced across centuries and nations with precision, coherence, clarity, and with the help of automated search engines. By contrast, related but bigger concepts like freedom, individualism or solidarity are part of dozens of disparate and fuzzy discourses, so often uttered that the analysis of modern uses is problematic. The histosophical methodology is applicable in six discrete stages, here outlined.

Download the open-access paper here:



Lacan and the Truth of Capitalism

lack philosophy


International Society of Psychoanalysis & Philosophy Conference

Stockholm May 2-4 2019

Luis de Miranda, Ph.D., Örebro University

Anna Cabak Rédei, Ph.D., Lund University


Lacan and The Truth of Capitalism


Analyses of social phenomena such as capitalism are often connected to Marx directly, but in order to question the “truth of capitalism”, we will benefit from reading Lacan’s elaboration on the discourse of the capitalist, and his echoing of Marx and Heidegger in the concepts of plus-de-jouir, jouissance, object a and the Thing.

In Peut-on jouir du capitalisme? Lacan avec Heidegger et Marx (Max Milo, 2008), an essay that Anna Redei will have translated into Swedish for the occasion of this conference, Luis de Miranda, who also practices a form of psychoanalytical philosophy as therapy for individuals in Stockholm, proposed a close reading of Lacan’s Seminar XVII (1969-1970), entitled The Other Side of Psychoanalysis (L’Envers de la psychanalyse), in order to unveil what is at stake behind the capitalist appearance of fun and what role a desire for an absolute plays in our current dominant economical system. In this talk, we will take advantage of the translation process, and the comparison between French and Swedish society familiar to both speakers, to reconsider the actuality of Lacan’s analyses in the context of the now digital state of capitalism, dominated by the paradigm of “predictive analytics” and the desire to anticipate the future considered as a more and more accessible object of desire. Effects of truth about the future abound in optimistic or catastrophic propaganda. Is the future the new object a of digital capitalism? How can we articulate an approach to the truth of capitalism when capitalism seems to constantly mutate? Or is the desire for mutation part of its truth?

In which signifiers does the truth of capitalism reveal itself? We will examine the discourse of capitalism in particular through analysing its semiotic manifestation in advertisement, with a few symptomatic examples.


Anthrobotics Explained to My Daughter

Screenshot 2019-02-22 at 09.01.17.png

Luis de MirandaPhD (University of Edinburgh), is a philosopher and historian of ideas who has carried out research into anthrobotics, digital cultures and how technology is enmeshed with our everyday life. He is the author of several fiction as well as non-fiction books, for example L’Art d’être libres au temps des automates (‘The Art of Freedom in the Time of Automata’). He works on anticipation and AI-humanities at Örebro University, Sweden.


CREA Public Talk – “Anticipatory Artificial Intelligence” | Michael Rovatsos

Anticipatory AI, a talk by Dr Michael Rovatsos, Director of the Bayes Center at the University of Edinburgh

23 May 2019, 13h – Bio – Forum – Örebro University – CREA Seminar, funded by RJ

CREA is a part of Örebro University’s larger effort to promote multidisciplinary research in AI


“As AI strives to replicate human intelligence in artefacts that utilise digital computing machinery, it involves multiple, interdependent processes of predictive modelling, some of which occur on the side of the designer at design time (when the system is built), while others take place within the artefact itself at runtime (when the system operates in its environment). In this talk, I will discuss the anticipatory aspects of different AI techniques and their consequences on our abilities to anticipate the impact of these systems.”


Read the article here

Effectual Anticipation: Analytical, Dialectical and Crealectical Moments

What is the future when anticipated? Massumi (2007) calls it an “indeterminate potentiality”. We might add, in line with the spirit of process philosophies (Bergson, 1911; Whitehead, 1929) that the Real that is not yet real is a Creal, a creative process of potential actualizations (de Miranda, 2017). Usually, when accounts of the future are seen as performative, they are understood as enacting a particular future while also marginalizing alternative futures in order to realize the projected future (Michael, 2017). What are the different modes that this enacting can take? The research strategy I initiated at the University of Örebro in 2018 (CREA, Cross-disciplinary Research in Effectual Anticipation) anticipates an understanding of performative anticipation that distinguishes between analytical, dialectical and crealectical aspects or moments.

I thus propose a distinction between three modes of anticipation: a) a “reactive” anticipation (Rosen, 1985), based on analytic understanding, today dominantly reinforced with the use of automated predictive systems; b) a dialectical form of anticipation (Clément, 1994) often, based on process as antagonism of dualities (Hegel, 1807); c) an what I have taken to calling a crealectic form of anticipation, which integrates but supersedes the analytic and dialectic modes into a frame in which the creative impulse — the Creal — is not only a human feature but also a holistic one, a primum mobile, an cosmological ground.

Even those who attempt to hold a purely deterministic view of the future might admit that the future is not fully realized yet. The virtual reality of the future seems to imply a before and an after, even if it were a program that merely unfolds over time, such as in the universal simulation hypothesis (Bostrom 2003). What the analytical perspective fails to see, as pointed by Rosen, is that anticipatory behavior or anticipatory awareness becomes an ingredient among others in the agential factors that shape the future. The performative — hereafter effectual — stance claims that anticipation of members, designers and users of a given system cannot be ignored in the analysis and conception of our environments.

Effectual designates the action of the anticipator on the protocol she conceives or follows. In his essay on probabilities, Laplace (1902 [1812]) famously described the project of what would be later called the “reactive paradigm” of science (Rosen 1985): “We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.” However, even if such an analytic understanding were possible, the metacognition that produced it, because it is itself active and embodied, cannot be left out of the loop: it is a projection of anticipations into the future with a more or less tangible influence on its unfolding. A purely mechanistic or functionalist model is not satisfactory if it attempts to predict the future as a deterministic consequence of a quantitative past. Probabilistic approaches remain narrow if they do not take into account the feed-forward effects of anticipation on a given system, whether it is a human or non-human form of anticipation. Noosystems (Barrett, 2001), id est ecosystems or technosystems in which cognition and metacognition have an internal influence, constantly interact. Born of a dialogue between the humanities and the computer science department, CREA is particularly interested in studying effectual anticipation in anthrobotic assemblages (de Miranda et al., 2016).

In humans, as noted by primatologist Robert Sapolsky (2011), the psychological difference between before and after is so important that entire groups, for example religious ones, are capable of sacrificing their life and secular well-being in anticipation of a worthwhile future. This might seem an aberration from an analytic point of view. The paradoxical capacity to pursue a knowledge about something we ignore but we feel is there to be actualized is crealectical because, rather than only looking at real data, it dives into the Creal, what Einstein after van’t Hoff (1878) called scientific imagination. The necessity of considering effectual anticipation in the conception and study of noosystems goes against the way theorization tends to exclude the subject — the observer, the practitioner, the designer — in the description of the system. The intentional and cognitive focus, the affective ideation of what is to come, cannot be left out of the noosystem. Effectual anticipation means that we need to see anticipation as an active element in the conception of our models. I wish to contribute to the field of anticipation studies by better describing this crealectical mode of thought.


Barrett, G. W. (2001), “Closing the Ecological Cycle: The Emergence of Integrative Science”, Ecosystem Health, 7 (2).

Bergson, H. (1911). Creative Evolution, tr. Arthur Mitchell. New York: Henry Holt and Company.

Bostrom, N. ‘Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?’, Philosophical Quaterly, 53 (211), pp. 243-255.

Clément, C. (1994). Syncope: The Philosophy of Rapture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Hoff, J. H. van’t, Imagination in Science, trans  Springer, G. F.. Springer-Verlag New York Inc., 1967.

Laplace, P. S. (1902 [1814]), A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities, trans. Truscott, F. W. & Emory, F.L. (New York, NY: Wiley and Sons).

Massumi, B. (2007). “Potential politics and the primacy of preemption”, Theory and Event, 10(2).

Michael, M. (2017), “Enacting Big Futures, Little Futures: Toward an ecology of futures”,

The Sociological Review, Volume: 65 issue: 3, pp. 509-524.

Miranda, L. de, Ramamoorthy, R, Rovatsos, M. (2016), ‘We, Anthrobot: Learning From Human Forms of Interaction and Esprit de Corps to Develop More Plural Social Robotics. In J Seibt, M Nørskov, S.S. Andersen (eds.), What Social Robots Can and Should Do, Vol. 290, Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications.

de Miranda, L. (2017), “On the Concept of Creal: The Politico-Ethical Horizon of a Creative Absolute”, In The Dark Precursor: Deleuze and Artistic Research. Leuven University Press. pp. 510-516

Parent, J-P.,Takasu K., Brodeur, J., Boivin G. (2017) ‘Time perception-based decision making in a parasitoid wasp’, Behavioral Ecology, 28 (3), 1, pp 640-677.

Rosen, R. (1985). Anticipatory Systems. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Whitehead, A. N. (1929)Process and Reality. New York: The Free Press.

Sapolski, R. (2011). ‘Are Humans Just Another Primate’, California Academy of Sciences, library.fora.tv.

Seibt, S. Nørskov, M., Andersen, S. S. (eds.), What Social Robots Can and Should Do, Vol. 290, Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications.

CREA public Talk | Flourishing for the Future: Anticipation as Meta-Capability | Chris Groves – 25 April 2019

CREA Seminar

25 April 2019 – 13h | Bio – Forum Huset – Örebro Universitet



“Anticipation is not only an individual, cognitive achievement. It is a collective or ‘assembled’ one (comprised of social practices, institutions, technologies, ecosystems, etc.). Actively responding to potential futures and acting to realise preferred ones represent capabilities inhering in such systems, and ethical choices. What are the ethics of anticipatory systems? To answer, I will use the capabilities approach of Sen, Nussbaum and Alkire as a jumping-off point. The jump then is that anticipation needs to be treated as a kind of meta-capability, essential to any notion of a flourishing life, in a way that leads to a politics (not only an ethics) of anticipation, in which people exercise this meta-capability in concert with others.”


Dr. Christopher Groves

Research Fellow

Understanding Risk Research Group & FLEXIS Project

School of Social Sciences

Cardiff University

How Ubiquitous Are You?

What is the relationship between God and the computer? The second seems to have stolen the virtue of ubiquity from the first. The term comes from the Latin “everywhere” and means omnipresence. But today it is also a technical qualifier that refers to the fact that computers are more and more hidden, almost invisible, while all over the place in the multiple environments that make up our daily lives.

Divine omnipresence is the first scheme of all religions. The first human beings one day looked around and they saw stones, animals, trees, other men, women, children, stones again, the sun, the stars. The first question that is probably at the origin of intelligence is: what unites all these realities? What is common to all these phenomena? What is the same everywhere? Thus was born religion, then philosophy, then mathematics.

We enter a world where it seems that the common, the same, is the digital, computational language; zeros, ones, electrons and photons. It’s such a fascinating world that eminent researchers in cosmology, such as Leonard Susskind, have proposed that the universe is nothing but a hologram, a vast computer simulation. Everything would be information and bits. This vision unveils our current obsession with computers. The consequence here is the idea that a transcendence of the Same or the Other is an illusion. Everything is the same everywhere, say the apologists of informationism, and it is nothing spiritual. They choose to ignore the underlying contradiction of such reductionism: if we say that our values ​​and beliefs are illusions generated by information arrangements, we have not moved a step forward in explaining the phenomenon of cognition. Illusion and belief are not material data. The theory that the ubiquitous is merely digital or data-based contradicts itself because it cannot explain the mind, as a philosopher like David Chalmers among others has been repeating lately. One cannot deny the mind, call it cognition or spirit, even if it is only an illusion: illusion itself is a phenomenon that demonstrates the existence of mind, some form of subjectivity, the fooled observer, the deceived being. This is a logic that Descartes follows, roughly, to demonstrate his cogito: I have illusions that I question, so I think. I think, so my mind exists.

Spirit or mind is ubiquitous. Religion and philosophy agree on this. What mathematics and physics have added is that order is everywhere, regularities that can be quantified and predicted. Einstein thought that E = mc2 revealed that God “did not play dice” – no doubt God has a more interesting game at her disposal. The Creal – a word I prefer to God – is an oscillation between creation and order, between the multiple (the Other) and the One (the Same).

If it is true that the universe is a dance between the creative becoming that Descartes called “continuous creation” and the tendency to ordered unification that characterises the inertia of bodies when they are not jostled by this creation, then this dynamic tension is everywhere, in each of us too. This amounts to suggesting that the Same and the Other, the One and the Multiple are two sides of the same energy. Any tendency to favor one aspect of this polarity against the other introduces a deadly imbalance. Hyper-order is death by crystallisation – and that might be what awaits us if we let computers in charge of our destiny. Hyper-creation is death by constant reconfiguration, in the sense that Spinoza said that any determination is also a negation and vice versa, or in the sense that Schumpeter spoke of creative destruction. This leads to a wisdom that the Greeks, especially the Stoics, but also Aristotle, already advocated, and which was recently rehabilitated by philosopher Gilles Deleuze: the golden mean.

The middle ground or golden mean is this ubiquitous balance between creation and order, difference and repetition, which governs the stability of a living system. As equilibrium, it is almost nothing, it is an invisible, an infinitesimal point between two forces, a strange attractor, a “dark precursor”. When a system reaches this balance, a new reality can emerge: hence it is not necessarily the sum of the parts that generates the whole, but balance points of tense equilibrium (that elsewhere I have called, speculatively, crealia). Crealia would be those moments of vibratory equilibrium between creation and order that actualise a phenomenon. Theoretical physicists sometimes call them “strings”, which according to their vibration would generate a particular particle or sub-particle.

The man or woman of the golden mean will be ubiquitous; they will live in the universal balance between matter and spirit, where illusion and reality are one, and where everything communicates secretly within a body-mind relationship, an alchemical version of esprit de corps.