Final Note: Examining the Network Concept

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


As engineers’ reticular techno-utopia tinkers with the images produced by Saint-Simonian concepts, the technology of the reticular mind is marking the final stage in the degradation of the network concept developed by Saint Simon. Such is the dual contemporary process of symbolic and theoretical deterioration of the network. The technology of the mind, understood as a canonical process of reasoning used in various disciplines, is an expression of the theoretical dispersion and commercialization of the concept that, with the obligation to think and be networked, has become a “precept”. This degraded concept is a catch-all. While it may indeed be useful in various disciplines, that fact of being applicable to everything makes it devoid of all substance. The common denominator is the reduction of the network to the hidden structure of a system, an architecture that can be formalized, made of interlinking relations or inter-connections. This structure is tending to be seen as the universal key to explain the functioning of a complex system of any kind (society, brain, body, planet, world, etc.). Conversely, it is enough to identify or imagine this type of network architecture in, or under, a complex system to infer this system’s mode of functioning or transformation. The network defines a hidden order that can be acted upon. This technology of the reticular mind is complementary to the techno-utopia of engineers presented in my introductory text. It reveals the difficulty of conceptualizing the network in any way other than as a metaphor or else reduced to an explanatory structure of a system. The extension of the notion is such that to track whatever remains, I propose that we characterize its constituent parts as fragments of a dilapidated concept.


Network Concept Explanatory Structure Hide Structure Canonical Process Introductory Text 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rennes 2 UniversityRennesFrance
  2. 2.Télécom Paris TechParisFrance

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