The nature of the artificial: augmenting Negrottian artificiality with neo-Whiteheadian naturality

Ali, Syed Mustafa (2002). The nature of the artificial: augmenting Negrottian artificiality with neo-Whiteheadian naturality. In: Negrotti, Massimo ed. Nature, Culture & Technology: Methodological Aspects and Cultural Issues. Yearbook of the Artificial (1). Bern: Peter Lang, pp. 25–51.



In this paper, a theory of the artificial recently proposed by Negrotti (1999a, 1999b, 2001a, 2001b) is critically examined. First, a brief overview of this theory is presented. It is then argued that despite the merits of this scheme, principal of which are the self-evident simplicity of its conceptual foundations, its internal consistency (or theoretical coherence), and its possible overall correctness, it is, nonetheless, incomplete. This incompleteness is shown to arise as a direct consequence of the explicit affirmation of a number of problematic metaphysical assumptions about the nature (as essence or what-ness) of nature (as 'other' to the artificial). An attempt at resolving the problem of incompleteness by augmenting the Negrottian theory of artificiality with an alternative conception of nature (as 'other') grounded in Whiteheadian panexperientialism is made. It is shown that although panexperientialism provides an adequate framework for the conceptualisation of naturality, it does not provide a corresponding framework for artificiality, principally because it fails to adequately characterise the nature (as essence) of artifacts. In order to address this latter problem, it is argued that conventional Whiteheadian panexperientialism must be supplemented with a phenomenological account of artificing that describes the ontologically distinct manner in which artifacts come to be. An attempt at formulating such a 'neo-Whiteheadian' account grounded in the metaphysical thinking of Ladrière, Lee, and others is made. In closing, some implications of this alternative Whiteheadian conception of naturality and the attendant neo-Whiteheadian account of artifactuality for the project of "strong" artificiality (that is, the attempt to artifactually replicate natural phenomena) are briefly considered.

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