Raymond Ruyer & The Autosubjective Domain of Absolute Survey

Dr Thomas Keating1

1UNSW Canberra


In his book Neo-finalism, the French philosopher Raymond Ruyer (1952 [2016]) describes a crisis of contemporary thought – a moment brought about by a false analogy between the ‘thinking’ computer and the ‘thinking’ human brain, as well as the subordination of all behavioural processes to the finalist activity of the organismic subject. Today, against a backdrop of nootropic modifications to human life and industrial-scale integration of artificial intelligence, elements of this same crisis gain expression through the reductionism of the conscious humanist subject – a subject that would need ‘saving’ from the onslaught of this technological change. By way of response, in this paper I explore how Ruyer’s concept of “absolute survey” provides avenues for thinking about a specific kind of autosubjectivity – one that positions the human as an outcome of a range of different processes of transpatial ‘thought’ that need not be reduced to the unconscious frames of the humanist subject.


Thomas P Keating is a lecturer in human geography at UNSW Canberra. His research interests include the philosophy of technology, ‘new’ technological interfaces with the body, and non-representational geographies.


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

IAG Website

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