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Simulation is not the Opposite of the Real

Simulation is not the Opposite of the Real – Jean Baudrillard on Simulation and Illusion by Gerry Coulter, NOEMA.

The whole world is merely an illusion of the senses and the sensory trace of that disappearance (Baudrillard, 1997b:116)

I. Simulation as an Integral Part of Life: In his article for Noema (Volume 57, 2010) Pier Luigi Capucci draws attention to many of the complexities of simulation. He points to the very intimate nature of simulation for humans because even our oral and written languages are simulations with which we attempt to give the world meaning. Language, as Barthes acknowledged, is the very site of the institutionalization of subjectivity (1972:150). Capucci also points to simulation and representation (especially computer programs), holography, and virtuality while taking us into a discussion of “behaviour simulation”, the key role of “mirror neurons” (in interpersonal interactions), and the fact that simulation is at the centre of our lives today through techno-science as artificial life, robotics, and genetics all of which depend upon simulation models. In the end Capucci arrives at a series of hopeful questions and wonders if: “Recurring simulation in the anthrosphere could be intended as a confirmation that we – and all we build – are nature”. Capucci also acknowledges the role of Jean Baudrillard (and others) in theorizing simulation but an analysis of the philosophy of simulation is beyond the scope of his perceptive and thought provoking essay.

In this paper I delve specifically into Baudrillard’s thought on simulation as a way of contributing to Noema’s effort to encourage discussion of this vital subject today. Jean Baudrillard published 47 books between 1968 and his death in 2007. Simulation is discussed in 30 of them. What can we learn from his writings on this intriguing concept?


Oct 31, 19:04
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