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An Epistemology of Noise


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Table of Contents

Foreword by Ray Brassier Acknowledgements Note on Text List of Abbreviations Introduction Part 1 Concepts: Information Entropy, Negentropy, Noise I How to Draw the Line between Information and Noise II Entropy as 'Freedom of Choice' III Information Entropy and Physical Entropy IV The Idea of 'Potential Information' V Physical Concepts of Information and Informational Concepts of Physics VI Information as Process Rather Than Content VII To Think about Information as a Process of Individuation VIII Redundancy and Necessity IX Logic and Freedom of Choice X Noise as Spurious Uncertainty XI Negentropy XII Complexity on the Basis of Noise XIII The Astigmatism of Intuition XIV The Path of Despair Part 2 Empirical Noise I On the Transduction of the Concept of Noise II Accidental Information, Predictable Noise III Ready-Made Information IV Cosmic Background Radiation V Noise in the Gap between Narratives VI Noise in Finance VII Statistics: The Discipline of the Prince VIII The Man without Qualities IX Noise Abatement: The Dawn of Noise X Noise Pollution XI Toxic, Viral, Parasitic Part 3 The 'Mental State of Noise' I The Crossroads: Mathematical, Technical, Empirical and Subjective Noise II Internal Chaos, Terror and Confusion III The Vicious Whir of Sensations IV Keat's Negative Capability V Closure to Noise and the Paradox of the Declining Life VI The Catastophic Reaction to Noise VII Anxiety VIII Order IX Control X The Helmsman Metaphor: Kybernetes XI The Helmsman in Plato's Alcibiades Dialogue Bibliography Index

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This book addresses the rising prominence of the notion of 'noise' and asks: on what grounds do we judge what counts as information and what can be discarded as 'noise'?

About the Author

Cecile Malaspina is a visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art, UK. She is the translator of G. Simondon's On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects, (forthcoming), and, together with Michael Zimmermann, of E. Morin's Methode II (forthcoming).


This is one of the freshest intellectual works I have read in recent years. If you did not previously recognize the philosophical significance of Claude Shannon, Warren Weaver, and Norbert Wiener, you will after reading this book. Shannon's paradoxical claim that information and noise are both forms of entropy is revived by Malaspina and developed with ideas drawn from Gilbert Simondon and Nicholas of Cusa. The result is a challenging and compelling experience for the reader, who will want to study this book multiple times. -- Graham Harman, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles, USA
The chapters that form this book are like cuts in a diamond, the precision of which is a thing of beauty. Bringing presuppositions to the fore, little is taken for granted when approaching noise and how to understand it. This is a philosophy of noise that is ultimately freeing and demands to be shared. -- Yve Lomax, Senior Research Tutor in Photography and Fine Art, Royal College of Art, UK
The received view that we now live in information societies obscures a more unsettling premise. For noise is not just intrinsic to information: as Cecile Malaspina contends, noise is rather the very basis of information. Information societies are then noise societies. This startling insight requires the resetting-or rather the upsetting- of basic categories across the board: for communication, sound, physics, biology, social organisation and, as Malaspina argues, of categorization itself. Noise is therefore primary and significant, yet its theorization is a demanding and necessarily transdisciplinary task. Epistemology of Noise attends to that task with rigour and precision. As such, Malaspina has written an establishing text for a new uncontainable field of noise studies. -- Suhail Malik, Reader in Critical Studies, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
This important study offers a rewarding exploration of its subject, not the least by revealing the deeper philosophical underpinnings of the mathematical and scientific theories of information and noise. The book rightly places them in complex relationships to each other, and against an uncritical opposition between them that has prevented us from understanding the nature of these relationships, and of noise and information themselves, for so long. -- Arkady Plotnitsky, Distinguished Professor of English and Director of Theory and Cultural Studies, Purdue University, USA

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