Introduction: Towards a Critical Philosophy of Networks – Reflections on the Perspective of Pierre Musso

Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 27)


One of the most original philosophers to have addressed the world of information and computing technology in his writings, the Frenchman Pierre Musso, took a degree in Philosophy at the École Nationale Supérieure des Postes et Télécommunications, before obtaining a doctorate in Political Science at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Musso is professor of Information and Communication Sciences at the University of Rennes 2 and at Télécom Paris Tech. The technical network is the key topic and concept in his critical approach to information and communication technologies. Musso has carried out in-depth research on the dissemination and prevalence of networked power, not only in its instrumental aspects, but also and above all in its cultural and political aspects, adopting an approach involving a multidisciplinary dialogue. Musso’s research looks to history, the philosophy of technology and the social sciences in his search for the origins of the idea of the network. He argues that the concept did not arise with the Internet, but has its roots in the ideas – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say in the plans – of Henri Saint-Simon and his disciples who became high priests of industrial development, Saint-Amand Bazard, Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin, and Michel Chevalier, among others. In addition to this introduction, this book brings together various researchers' contributions on Musso's theories, and the final chapter contains his brief comments on those contributions.


Universal Association Empirical Orientation Mobile Telecommunication Service Pirate Party French Thought 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter was supported by the Portuguese national funding agency for science, research and technology (FCT), as part of the UID/SIC/50013/2013 Project.


  1. Anders, G. 1984. Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen: Über die zerstörung des lebens in zeitalter der dritten industriellen revolution. Munich: Beck.Google Scholar
  2. Bar-Yam, Y. 1997. Dynamics of complex systems. Reading: Perseus Books.Google Scholar
  3. Berlin, I. 2002. Saint-Simon. In Isaiah Berlin. Freedom and its betrayal: Six enemies of human liberty, ed. H. Hardy, 105–130. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Breton, P. 1992. L’utopie de la communication. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  5. Carey, J.W. 1992 [1989]. Communication as culture: Essays on media and society. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Castells, M. 2000 [1996] The information age: Economy, society and culture, vol. I. The rise of the network society. Cambridge, MA and Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  7. Chanial, Ph. 2001. Les socialismes français. In Histoire Raisonnée de la Philosophie Morale et Politique, ed. A. Caillé, Ch. Lazzeri, and M. Senellart, 524–534. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  8. Elias, N. 1995. Technization and civilization. Theory, Culture & Society 12(3): 7–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Flichy, P. 2001. L’imaginaire d’internet. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  10. Garcia, J.L. 2014. Une critique de l’économie des communications à l'aune des medias numériques. In La contribution en ligne: Pratiques participatives à l’ère du capitalisme informationnel, ed. S. Proulx, J.L. Garcia, and L. Heaton, 49–61. Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec.Google Scholar
  11. ———. 2015. Theodicy. In Ethics, Science, Technology, and Engineering: A global resource, 2nd ed. J.B. Holbrook (Editor in Chief), and C. Mitcham (Associate Editor), vol 4: 357–360. Farmington Hills: Gale, Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  12. Grange, J., P. Musso, P. Régnier, and F. Yonnet (ed). 2012. Henri Saint-Simon: Oeuvres Complètes, vol 4. Paris: PUF.Google Scholar
  13. Innis, H.A. 1998 [1951]. The bias of communication. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  14. Koselleck, R. 1972. Einleitung. In Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Historisches Lexikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutschland. Bd. 1, ed. R. Koselleck, W. Conze, and O. Brunner, XIII–XXVII. Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.Google Scholar
  15. Manuel, F.E. 1962. The prophets of Paris. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Martins, H. 2005. The metaphysics of information: The power and the glory of machinehood. Res-Publica: Revista Lusófona de Ciência Política e Relações Internacionais 1: 165–192.Google Scholar
  17. Martins, H., and J.L. Garcia. 2013. Web. In Portugal social de A a Z: Temas em aberto, ed. J.L. Cardoso, P. Magalhães, and J.M. Pais, 285–293. Paço de Arcos: Impresa Publishing/Expresso.Google Scholar
  18. Mattelart, A. 1994. L’ invention de la communication. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  19. Mattelart, A., and A. Vitalis. 2014. Le profilage des populations. Paris: La Découverte.Google Scholar
  20. Metcalfe, B. 2013. Metcalfe’s Law after 40 years of ethernet. Computer 46(12, Dec): 26–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Musso, P. 1997. Télécommunications et philosophie des réseaux: La postérité paradoxale de Saint-Simon. Paris: PUF.Google Scholar
  22. ———. 1999. Saint-Simon et le Saint-Simonisme. Paris: PUF.Google Scholar
  23. ———. 2003. Critique des réseaux. Paris: PUF.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Proulx, S., F. Massit-Folléa, and B. Conein. 2005. Internet, une utopie limitée: nouvelles régulations, nouvelles solidarités. Québec: Presse de l’Université Laval.Google Scholar
  25. Rainie, L., and B. Wellman. 2014. Networked: The new social operating system. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  26. Sfez, L. 1995. La santé parfait: Critique d’une nouvelle utopie. Paris: Seuil.Google Scholar
  27. ———. 2002. Technique et idéologie: un enjeu de pouvoir. Paris: Seuil.Google Scholar
  28. Stiegler, B. 2006. La télécratie contre la démocratie: Lettre ouverte aux représentants politiques. Paris: Flammarion.Google Scholar
  29. Subtil, F. 2014. Du télégraphe à Internet: enjeux politique liés aux technologies de l’information. In La contribution en ligne: Pratiques participatives à l’ère du capitalisme informationnel, ed. S. Proulx, J.L. Garcia, and L. Heaton, 115–125. Québec: Presses de l’Université du Québec.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Ciências SociaisUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

Personalised recommendations