From the Critique of the Network Symbolic Form to the Ideology of Innovation: An Appraisal of Pierre Musso’s Work on the Current World Situation of Technology

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


Francisco Rüdiger is concerned with the relationship between retiology and capitalism. Looking at several articles and works by Musso, he identifies an integrative and rational view of the idea of technological innovation, which he believes to be problematic and debatable. In Rüdiger’s view, Musso argues that through better linkages between technological innovation policies and knowledge of the social imaginary, it would be possible (and desirable) to reconstruct the discourse of the network minimizing its ideological nature, preserving technical rationality and fulfilling consumer desires. Thus Musso not only recognizes the social function of retiology, but also rescues the reticular idea itself and puts forward a rational reworking of the network so that it will contribute to technological innovation. Keeping faith with autonomous reason as the principle which helps us to explain the real world and eventually plan new guidelines for it, Musso acknowledges the mediation of the symbolic and the imaginative on this world. His approach to innovation is an effort to combine older modernist expectations of a rationalization of the culture with the arbitrary nature of social actors’ desires today.

According to Rüdiger, Musso’s reflections reveal a loss of critical perspective and are covered by a layer of strategic and instrumental interest. He does not address the issue of the will to power which is intrinsic in the capitalist market economy and directs innovation into the channels necessary for greater economic advantage, nor does he investigate the very concept of innovation, and its implementation as a corporate policy at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Rüdiger questions, to a degree, the possibility of shaping the imaginary in an instrumental way, because it is actually the will to power which explains the search for innovations and their eventual adoption. Musso’s abandonment of the critique of retiology shows how we are able to criticise Saint-Simonism without escaping the web of the will to power, which is evident in his aim of preparing the ground for the advent of industrial forms capable of shaping the social image of technology for profit-making purposes. Rüdiger sees Musso as a new philosopher of innovation who, having once criticized retiology, succumbs to a similar ideology, granting academic legitimacy to those who see technological innovation as the key to social change and a replacement for political action. The parallel with Saint-Simonism is clear. The image of innovation is for Musso what the network was for the Saint-Simonians.


Technological Innovation Innovation Process Entrepreneurial Intention Network Society Symbolic Operation 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pontifical Catholic of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Federal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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