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Hi, I'm Maël Montévil.

I am a theoretical biologist working at the crossroads of experimental biology, mathematics, and philosophy. I also work on the Anthropocene, among many other interests.

I am a researcher (Chargé de recherche) in CNRS, working in Centre Cavaillès République des Savoirs USR 3608, École Normale Supérieure.

Key concepts: historicity, organization as closure of constraints, anti-entropy, symmetry changes, biological measurement, disruption


Latest Publications

  1. Bifurcate: There Is No Alternative

    Bifurcate: There Is No Alternative


    The collective work that produced this book is based on the claim that today's destructive development model is reaching its ultimate limits, and that its toxicity is generated above all by the fact that the current industrial economy is based on an obsolete physical model.

    Abstract

    Bifurcating means: reconstituting a political economy that reconnects local knowledge and practices with macroeconomic circulation and rethinks territoriality at its different scales of locality; developing an economy of contribution on the basis of a contributory income no longer tied to employment and once again valuing work as a knowledge activity; overhauling law, and government and corporate accounting, via economic and social experiments, including in laboratory territories, and in relation to cooperative, local market economies formed into networks and linked to international trade; revaluing research from a long-term perspective, independent of the short-term interests of political and economic powers; reorienting digital technology in the service of territories and territorial cooperation.
    The collective work that produced this book is based on the claim that today’s destructive development model is reaching its ultimate limits, and that its toxicity, which is increasingly massive, manifest and multidimensional (medical, environmental, mental, epistemological, economic – accumulating pockets of insolvency, which become veritable oceans), is generated above all by the fact that the current industrial economy is based in every sector on an obsolete physical model – a mechanism that ignores the constraints of locality in biology and the entropic tendency in reticulated computational information. In these gravely perilous times, we must bifurcate: there is no alternative.

  2. Prendre Soin de l’informatique et Des Générations

    Prendre Soin de l’informatique et Des Générations


    Comment concevoir et réaliser des plateformes numériques au service des relations sociales et intergénérationnelles, aujourd’hui menacées par les applications addictives et l’économie des données ?

    Abstract

    Lorsque les technologies numériques sont mises au service de l’économie des données, leur design et leur fonctionnement exploitent les attentions, afin d’orienter, voire de contrôler, les comportements des utilisateurs. Réduits à un ensemble de processus cognitifs et de réactions réflexes, ils se voient dépossédés de leurs savoirs, alors même que, dans nos sociétés en situation de crise sanitaire, sociale, politique et écologique, le partage et la transmission des savoir-faire, des savoir-vivre et des savoir-penser sont plus que jamais nécessaires.
    Comment concevoir et réaliser des plateformes numériques au service des relations sociales et intergénérationnelles, aujourd’hui menacées par les applications addictives et l’économie des données ? Comment intégrer dans les dispositifs computationnels des fonctions délibératives et interprétatives ? Comment transformer les technologies numériques en supports de mémoire et de savoirs ? Comment mettre les algorithmes au service de l’intelligence collective ? En un mot, comment prendre soin de l’informatique pour les générations actuelles et à venir ? Ce livre interroge la manière dont les supports techniques configurent nos capacités psychiques et nos relations collectives, et propose des solutions pour concevoir de nouveaux dispositifs et de nouvelles pratiques, afin de mettre les technologies numériques au service de la production et de la transmission de savoirs, ainsi que des liens entre les générations.

  3. Il faut qu’il y ait en informatique théorique un symbole tel qu’il empêche de calculer

    Il faut qu’il y ait en informatique théorique un symbole tel qu’il empêche de calculer

    Prendre Soin de l’informatique et Des Générations


    Pour progresser sur la question du rapport entre l’informatique et le calculable, je propose de réinterpréter l’objet de l’informatique théorique.

    Abstract

    Pour progresser sur la question du rapport entre l’informatique et le calculable, je propose de réinterpréter l’objet de l’informatique théorique puis de faire un détour par la biologie théorique où la question d’un symbole qui empêche de calculer se pose. Enfin, je reviens vers l’informatique en transférant de manière critique certains concepts issus de mes travaux en biologie théorique.

    Citation
    Montévil, Maël. 2021. “Il Faut Qu’il y Ait En Informatique Théorique Un Symbole Tel Qu’il Empêche de Calculer.” In Prendre Soin de l’informatique et Des Générations, edited by Anne Alombert, Victor Chaix, Maël Montévil, and Vincent Puig. Fip. https://www.fypeditions.com/prendre-soin-de-linformatique-et-des-generations-hommage-a-bernard-stiegler/
    Manuscript Citation Publisher Full text

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Popular Publications

  1. Biological organisation as closure of constraints

    Biological organisation as closure of constraints

    Journal of Theoretical Biology


    We characterize biological organization as a closure of constraints, where constraints are defined at a given time scale and are interdependent.

    Abstract

    We propose a conceptual and formal characterisation of biological organisation as a closure of constraints. We first establish a distinction between two causal regimes at work in biological systems: processes, which refer to the whole set of changes occurring in non-equilibrium open thermodynamic conditions; and constraints, those entities which, while acting upon the processes, exhibit some form of conservation (symmetry) at the relevant time scales. We then argue that, in biological systems, constraints realise closure, i.e. mutual dependence such that they both depend on and contribute to maintaining each other. With this characterisation in hand, we discuss how organisational closure can provide an operational tool for marking the boundaries between interacting biological systems. We conclude by focusing on the original conception of the relationship between stability and variation which emerges from this framework.

    Keywords: Biological organisation, Closure, Constraints, Symmetries, Time scales

    Citation
    Montévil, Maël, and Matteo Mossio. 2015. “Biological Organisation as Closure of Constraints.” Journal of Theoretical Biology 372 (May): 179–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtbi.2015.02.029
    Manuscript Citation Publisher Full text
  2. No entailing laws, but enablement in the evolution of the biosphere

    No entailing laws, but enablement in the evolution of the biosphere

    Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference


    The evolution of life marks the end of a physics world view of law entailed dynamics. We discuss the notions of causation and of enablement.

    Abstract

    Biological evolution is a complex blend of ever changing structural stability, variability and emergence of new phe- notypes, niches, ecosystems. We wish to argue that the evo- lution of life marks the end of a physics world view of law entailed dynamics. Our considerations depend upon dis- cussing the variability of the very ”contexts of life”: the in- teractions between organisms, biological niches and ecosys- tems. These are ever changing, intrinsically indeterminate and even unprestatable: we do not know ahead of time the ”niches” which constitute the boundary conditions on selec- tion. More generally, by the mathematical unprestatability of the ”phase space” (space of possibilities), no laws of mo- tion can be formulated for evolution. We call this radical emergence, from life to life. The purpose of this paper is the integration of variation and diversity in a sound concep- tual frame and situate unpredictability at a novel theoretical level, that of the very phase space. Our argument will be carried on in close comparisons with physics and the mathematical constructions of phase spaces in that discipline. The role of (theoretical) symmetries as invariant preserving transformations will allow us to under- stand the nature of physical phase spaces and to stress the differences required for a sound biological theoretizing. In this frame, we discuss the novel notion of ”enablement”. Life lives in a web of enablement and radical emergence. This will restrict causal analyses to differential cases (a difference that causes a difference). Mutations or other causal differ- ences will allow us to stress that ”non conservation princi- ples” are at the core of evolution, in contrast to physical dynamics, largely based on conservation principles as sym- metries. Critical transitions, the main locus of symmetry changes in physics, will be discussed, and lead to ”extended criticality” as a conceptual frame for a better understanding of the living state of matter.

    Keywords: conservation properties, symmetries, biological causality

    Citation
    Longo, G., Maël Montévil, and S. Kauffman. 2012. “No Entailing Laws, but Enablement in the Evolution of the Biosphere.” In Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO’12. New York, NY, USA: GECCO’12; ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/2330784.2330946
    Manuscript Citation Publisher Full text
  3. Bifurcate: There Is No Alternative

    Bifurcate: There Is No Alternative


    The collective work that produced this book is based on the claim that today's destructive development model is reaching its ultimate limits, and that its toxicity is generated above all by the fact that the current industrial economy is based on an obsolete physical model.

    Abstract

    Bifurcating means: reconstituting a political economy that reconnects local knowledge and practices with macroeconomic circulation and rethinks territoriality at its different scales of locality; developing an economy of contribution on the basis of a contributory income no longer tied to employment and once again valuing work as a knowledge activity; overhauling law, and government and corporate accounting, via economic and social experiments, including in laboratory territories, and in relation to cooperative, local market economies formed into networks and linked to international trade; revaluing research from a long-term perspective, independent of the short-term interests of political and economic powers; reorienting digital technology in the service of territories and territorial cooperation.
    The collective work that produced this book is based on the claim that today’s destructive development model is reaching its ultimate limits, and that its toxicity, which is increasingly massive, manifest and multidimensional (medical, environmental, mental, epistemological, economic – accumulating pockets of insolvency, which become veritable oceans), is generated above all by the fact that the current industrial economy is based in every sector on an obsolete physical model – a mechanism that ignores the constraints of locality in biology and the entropic tendency in reticulated computational information. In these gravely perilous times, we must bifurcate: there is no alternative.

Read all publications


Forthcoming Talks

  1. Architectonique théorique en biologie et applications


    Si la physique, notamment la mécanique classique, a largement été mobilisée comme modèle de la compréhension théorique de la nature, la biologie a dans une certaine mesure, réussi à s'en détacher avec la théorie de l'évolution, une théorie où l'historicité est première. Néanmoins, cette innovation …

  2. Jean-Luc Nancy : Anastasis de la pensée

    • D Dwivedi
      D Dwivedi
      ,
      J Lèbre
      J Lèbre
      ,
      S Mohan
      S Mohan
      ,
      M Montévil
      M Montévil
      &
      F Warin
      F Warin
      .
    • fr
    • ÉNS et Centre Pompidou, Paris

    Nancy a toujours été proche des préoccupations majeures de la philosophie – temps, être, espace, négativité, forme, image. Se souvenir de lui, c’est recommencer d’une manière plurielle avec lui pour assurer sa levée plus que sa relève dans l’avenir de la pensée.

Latest videos

  1. Anastase de la philosophie, anastase des sciences


    Quel nouveau départ pour la philosophie ? S'il ne s'agit pas de s'affranchir des travaux antérieurs, ni de suivre la géopolitique restrictive du corpus heideggerien qui contrôle la politique post-décoloniale, comment constituer un nouveau corpus pour la philosophie ? Et quels sont les véritables enjeux…

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  1. screenshot of Philosophy World Democracy

    PWD avatar PWD

    Philosophy World Democracy


    Il ne s’agira pas d’une démocratie mondiale, car il faut que les peuples se composent et se disposent.Mais nous affirmerons une essence démocratique du monde : peuplé par tous les vivants et par tous les parlants, tout entier configuré par leurs existences et par leurs paroles.

  2. screenshot of Groupe cardano

    Cardano

    Groupe cardano


    Nous sommes un groupe de mathématiciens qui dénonçons une mathématisation du monde orientée vers le contrôle, le quantitatif et le réductionnisme plutôt que vers l’invention et la construction de compréhensions.

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