Three Concepts for Crossing the Nature-Artifice Divide: Technology, Milieu, and Machine

Marco Altamirano


The distinction between nature and artifice has been definitive for Western conceptions of the role of humans within their natural environment. But in order to distinguish between nature and artifice, the human must be separated from nature. This separation, in turn, facilitates a classification of knowledge in general, typically cast in terms of a hierarchy of sciences that ascends from the natural sciences to the social (or human) sciences. However, this hierarchy considers nature as a substantial foundation upon which artifice operates and to which it responds. Here I examine three inter-related concepts that, by focusing on events rather than substances, operate beyond the nature–artifice distinction and thereby resist the hierarchical classification of the sciences: Foucault’s concept of technology, the concept of milieu as it crosses over historically from physics to biology and anthropology, and Deleuze and Guattari’s reconfiguration of the concept of milieu in terms of their concept of machine.


Nature; Artifice; Technology; Milieu; Machine

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Copyright (c) 2014 Marco Altamirano

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