ArticlePDF Available

'We Have to Become the Quasi-cause of Nothing - of Nihil: An Interview with Bernard Stiegler

Authors:

Abstract

This interview with the philosopher Bernard Stiegler was conducted in Paris on 28 January 2015, and first appeared in Dutch translation in the journal De uil van Minerva. The conversation begins by discussing the fundamental place occupied by the concept of ‘technics’ in Stiegler’s work, and how the ‘constitutivity’ of technics does and does not relate to Kant and Husserl. Stiegler is then asked about his relationship with Deleuze, and he responds by focusing on the concept of quasi-causality, but also by arguing that there is a certain trajectory in Deleuze’s thought, situating his own philosophy in relation to its various moments. Stiegler is then asked to respond to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks carried out three weeks prior to the interview. After making a couple of precautionary remarks, Stiegler relates such occurrences to the problem of what he calls ‘spiritual poverty’, to the intensification of ‘negative sublimation’ that can occur when there is a disconnection between the generations, and more generally to the growth of nihilism. All of these phenomena relate to the exploitation of technology by a virulent capitalism that irrationally believes that only the market is rational. After consideration of the complex historical relationship between Islam and modernization, and of both of these to Nietzsche’s ‘death of God’, and after recalling the destructive role played by the West in the rise of fundamentalism and jihadism, Stiegler concludes by reflecting on the fact that, ultimately, ‘intellectuals’ have failed to use technologies in ways that produce alternatives to consumerism.
Theory, Culture & Society
0(0) 1–20
!The Author(s) 2016
Reprints and permissions:
sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0263276416651932
tcs.sagepub.com
Interview
‘We Have to Become
the Quasi-cause of
Nothing – of Nihil’:
An Interview with
Bernard Stiegler
Judith Wambacq
Ghent University
Daniel Ross
Yachay Tech
Bart Buseyne
National Library of Belgium
Abstract
This interview with the philosopher Bernard Stiegler was conducted in Paris on
28 January 2015, and first appeared in Dutch translation in the journal De uil van
Minerva. The conversation begins by discussing the fundamental place occupied by
the concept of ‘technics’ in Stiegler’s work, and how the ‘constitutivity’ of technics
does and does not relate to Kant and Husserl. Stiegler is then asked about his
relationship with Deleuze, and he responds by focusing on the concept of quasi-
causality, but also by arguing that there is a certain trajectory in Deleuze’s thought,
situating his own philosophy in relation to its various moments. Stiegler is then asked
to respond to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks carried out three weeks prior to
the interview. After making a couple of precautionary remarks, Stiegler relates such
occurrences to the problem of what he calls ‘spiritual poverty’, to the intensification
of ‘negative sublimation’ that can occur when there is a disconnection between the
generations, and more generally to the growth of nihilism. All of these phenomena
relate to the exploitation of technology by a virulent capitalism that irrationally
believes that only the market is rational. After consideration of the complex histor-
ical relationship between Islam and modernization, and of both of these to
Nietzsche’s ‘death of God’, and after recalling the destructive role played by the
West in the rise of fundamentalism and jihadism, Stiegler concludes by reflecting
on the fact that, ultimately, ‘intellectuals’ have failed to use technologies in ways
that produce alternatives to consumerism.
Corresponding author: Daniel Ross. Email: djrossmail@gmail.com
Extra material: http://theoryculturesociety.org/
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Keywords
Deleuze, Islam, philosophy, technics, terrorism
The French philosopher Bernard Stiegler published the first volume of
his series, Technics and Time, in 1994. The preface opens with two claims:
that ‘technics’ is the horizon of all future to come, and that it is what
philosophy has repressed throughout its history. The centrality of this
term to Stiegler’s thought is thus established from the outset, in a way
that resonates (in departing from it) with Heidegger’s claim that what
philosophy has never thought is being itself. From this centrality of tech-
nics, however, it would be imprudent to conclude that Stiegler’s work
belongs to the category ‘philosophy of technology’, still less that he
is some kind of technological ‘determinist’. For Stiegler, ‘hominization’
can never be separated from ‘technicization’, the who and the what
co-emerging in a relation of undecidable priority from what he refers
to as an ‘originary default’ (1998: 121–2).
If this last concept has about it something of a Derridian ring, then
this is no accident: Stiegler’s work enacts a kind of genealogy of diffe
´r-
ance even if it is simultaneously a profound critique (Ross, 2013). This
connection between the two philosophies is only strengthened when, a
dozen years later, Stiegler places Derrida’s reading of the Phaedrus at the
centre of all his subsequent diagnoses and analyses of the evolving rela-
tionship between technology and capitalism. As Derrida emphasized, for
Socrates the pharmakon referred to the technics of writing as bearing the
dual characteristics of being an aid and a threat to memory. For the last
decade, Stiegler has pursued a ‘pharmacological’ approach that extends
the reading of the pharmakon to every artefact. The fundamental philo-
sophico-political concept utilized in that approach has been ‘proletarian-
ization’: whether it is the inscription of speech in writing, the inscription
of the gestures of the hand in the machines of the industrial revolution, or
the inscription of the sensible in the audiovisual technologies of con-
sumerist capitalism, all of these represent pharmacological stages that
each time inaugurate a new tendency towards the loss of knowledge.
In the latter case, it is the industrial exploitation of this tendency that
forms the heart of consumer capitalism.
What this also shows, however, is that Stiegler is very concerned with
processes of becoming, which draws his thinking away from Derrida and
back towards Heidegger and Simondon, but also towards Deleuze.
Stiegler, we might say, gives a Deleuzian inflection to the Derridian dis-
tinction between devenir and avenir, but this also implies a confrontation
with Deleuze’s philosophy and with his politics: one of the great virtues
of this interview is the opportunity it provides for Stiegler to clarify
the manner in which he interprets this question via the concept of
2Theory, Culture & Society 0(0)
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
‘quasi-causality’, which for Stiegler is always the quasi-causality of the
pharmakon itself.
Another consequence of the quasi-Deleuzian tendency of Stiegler’s
recent thought is the confrontation with the question of nihilism, and
of its relationship with capitalism. This concern is not new in Stiegler’s
thought (see Stiegler, 2011a), but Stiegler argues, in his reading of what
Berns and Rouvroy (2013) have called (drawing on Foucault and
Deleuze) ‘algorithmic governmentality’, that digitalization and high per-
formance computing have accelerated the growth of this desert (Stiegler,
2016). Beyond Berns and Rouvroy, Stiegler emphasizes that what is at
stake with this great computational acceleration is not just control, or
surveillance, or rationalization: it is how these lead to the growth of
unreason and stupidity (and in terms of the latter, too, Stiegler argues
for Deleuze against Derrida – see Stiegler, 2015). Stiegler’s technological
analyses are therefore always also ‘symptomatological’ analyses (in the
sense developed in Vignola, forthcoming): hence this unreason is a ques-
tion not just of stupidity but of madness, which is also to say, of terror,
and on all sides. In this interview, Stiegler begins to draw these threads
together, in what perhaps amounts to the emergence of a new tendency in
his thinking, in which what will be at stake, even if it is not here named, is
disruption as such. The question of the future, today, is the question of
the quasi-causal production of alternatives to this profoundly nihilistic
situation.
This interview with Bernard Stiegler was conducted by Judith
Wambacq and Bart Buseyne on 28 January 2015, at the Institut de
Recherche et d’Innovation in Paris. The text first appeared in Dutch
translation in the philosophy journal De uil van Minerva. Tijdschrift
voor geschiedenis en wijsbegeerte van de cultuur 28 (4) (2015). The inter-
viewers would like to thank Sofie Messeman for her technical assistance
and editorial advice.
General Organology
UM: Bernard Stiegler, you are the author of some 30 books, including
the three volumes of Technics and Time (1998, 2009b, 2011b). This series
is often considered your magnum opus. It is not surprising, then, that
many people see you as a ‘philosopher of technics’ rather than of politics
or science. Nevertheless, this description is a bit misleading. The question
of technics, as you pose it, is not just a regional issue. Might we say about
technics what Jean Laplanche said about sexuality in the psychoanalytic
field: if not everything, technics is nevertheless present throughout the
human field; it is coextensive with existence?
1
BS: I completely agree with this way of presenting things. And it is all the
more interesting to me because the question of the status of sexuality in
Wambacq et al. 3
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
psychoanalysis is a subject of great importance to me, and one that
I think must, precisely, be articulated with technics.
For 15 years now, I have developed a proposition, both theoretical
and practical, in terms of what I call a ‘general organology’. Many people
understand general organology as the submission of everything to tech-
nics, which would thus be the object of this general organology.
Currently I am trying to show that organology does not refer only to
technics, but also and equally to organs and organizations. The noetic
organs, those of the ‘noetic soul’, are not simply technical, and neither
are organizations. But every noetic organ and every noetic organization is
also technical – and organological in this sense, which means: not only
organic, not only organizational.
Organology is a theory and a practice of the organization that encom-
passes all kinds of non-technical realities. This theory, although ‘general’,
does not claim to absorb all theories. But all theories are concerned by it,
and I have the weakness to believe that it concerns them all – because it is
a discourse on the conditions of possibility and on the limits of theories,
which is also to say, on the necessity of practice.
Rather than as a theory, and even though it is also ‘theoretical’,
I present it as an approach – not even a method – as a way not only of
posing questions, but of letting oneself be put into question (by technics,
organs and organizations, combined and forming transductive relations)
in order to confront what Deleuze called problems. This approach con-
sists in saying: as soon as we investigate a dimension of humanity –
economic, hermeneutic, aesthetic, psychoanalytic and so on – we
always discover technics somewhere. Technics contaminates the other
dimensions of general organology.
If, for example, we wish to study the brain, the eye or the human
finger, we can never do so without taking account of what accompanies
this brain, this eye or this finger. The finger holds objects that are tech-
nical, and that it may itself have fabricated. The way it holds these
objects is inscribed in a social organization that is neither technical nor
biological, and that conditions it. Technics is therefore everywhere, yet
nothing is ever reducible to technics. This is why I locate myself very well
within the proposition by Laplanche (with which I am also in profound
agreement with respect to psychoanalysis) and in the analogy that you
draw.
The Constitutivity of Technics
UM: Technics is not simply any device or system we encounter in the
world. Before being an object present to consciousness, technics consti-
tutes this consciousness as such. How do you understand this word,
‘constitution’? Is it a reference to Kant, who made a distinction between
the constitutive and the regulative?
2
4Theory, Culture & Society 0(0)
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
BS: The question of the relationship between the regulative and the con-
stitutive is obviously immense – and forms the issue of the Kantian heri-
tage and the ‘system of idealism’ between Schelling and Fichte. What I
call consistences, which do not exist, as they overflow existence and in so
doing project it beyond subsistence, are a way of reprising the concept of
the regulative idea in Kant that I have placed at the heart of what I call
the idiotext, and that I articulate with the phenomenological question of
protention and with the Freudian question of desire. The regulative idea
opens for philosophy a completely new and promising possibility. But to
fully assume this, we must transform the status of the constitutive in
Kant. I have tried to show in the third volume of Technics and Time
(2011b) that the schematism in the first version of the Critique of Pure
Reason is made possible by a fourth synthesis, a techno-logical synthesis,
which is obviously totally incompatible with Kant.
The regulative idea (like the schematism) is conditioned by this fourth
synthesis. This statement needs to be developed at a length beyond what
I can do here: I would like to think about it further. I do not want to
make premature statements.
Technical constitutivity is not transcendental because that which is con-
stituted can in fact become constituting – as well as destituting: this pharma-
cology is a philosophy of becoming and of its ‘diffe
´rance’ such that, within
this becoming, it opens a future (that is, a law or right), so that this con-
stitutivity or condition of possibility is also a destitutive condition of impos-
sibility (where the law can always regress into a new state of fact).
That which constitutes – technics – destitutes. Technics is at once and in
the same gesture that which constitutes possibility and that which bars
possibility. As such, it is what imposes upon us politics, ethics, aesthetics,
religion – in short, everything that forms care, Sorge,therapeia. If, therefore,
there is indeed constitutivity, it is not a transcendental constitutivity: it is
also destitutive. It is an a-transcendental constitutivity. Technics still has the
function that the transcendental had in Kant and Husserl – constitutivity –
but it is no longer transcendental: it is originally empirical (and accidental).
Nor is this ‘a-transcendental empiricism’, so to speak, Deleuzian. Deleuze
and Guattari were never able to think the question of the artefact. In
this respect, an entire segment of their thought remains on the side of
Platonism.
The Quasi-Causality of Deleuze
UM: But with this idea of a paradoxical condition that is immanent and
not transcendent, are you not very close to Deleuze?
BS: You are right – I am even becoming closer to Deleuze. And yet, I find
a fundamental blockage in Deleuze, less in Guattari – but in him I find
other problems. Guattari is perhaps more open, however, to this
Wambacq et al. 5
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
introduction of the organological into life. Deleuze is Bergsonian, and his
Bergsonism is on this plane intractable.
What matters most to me in Deleuze is his idea of quasi-causality
(1990; Stiegler, 2013a). It is a position with respect to life that consists
in positing that what wounds me, what weakens me – if it does not kill
me – is also my chance. My chance lies only there; it is not providence –
transcendental or transcendent – that will save us. There is no salvation,
and it is not a question of being saved, but of being worthy. This is what
is magnificent in Deleuze.
In fact, it is always a question of being worthy of technics – that is,
of the accidental – including when it leaves me destitute. To be worthy
of the strength that it gives me is pretty easy. But to be worthy of what
it takes away from me is a true test. How this diminishing of myself
can be transformed into an increase of me, this time no longer as
myself but as me-the-other. This Deleuze is the Deleuze who interests
me.
UM: So dignity has nothing to do with passivity, acceptance or resigna-
tion, but is on the contrary about action?
BS: Indeed, this is why it is not at all a Gelassenheit: this has to do with
individuation and transformation, with what after Simondon I call
‘invention’. Deleuze opens up a ‘pharmacological’ perspective in
Difference and Repetition, where he refers to repetition as ‘what we
die from’ and as what ‘saves and heals’ – repetition as pharmakon.
3
Subsequently, with Guattari, he will engage with all kinds of things
that are no longer strictly Deleuzian and that go very far. And I believe
that, by 1990, he realizes that he has gone a little too far: I believe that
in the interview with Toni Negri on control societies, he becomes
critical of what he and Guattari had opened up in Anti-Oedipus,A
Thousand Plateaus and many other texts (Deleuze, 1995). I think
he begins to take a little step back. He has aged, and he perhaps
finds a little limited this kind of yes to the capitalist ‘desiring machine’,
which had become more and more an attitude and less and less a
thought.
I believe that he felt coming like none before him the first effects of
ultra-liberalism. Deleuze is a political thinker. For the first time, he
began to assert the negative, in a way. Starting from 1990, at the
moment when he takes up the theme of the dividual that I believe
comes from Guattari, he finds it hard to say yes and it is as if he feels
coming what will be shown by Thomas Berns and Antoinette Rouvroy,
namely, that the concepts of Deleuze and Guattari function perfectly
well in and as what they call ‘algorithmic governmentality’ (Berns and
Rouvroy, 2013), but that in so doing, they function in a way that is
contrary to what Deleuze and Guattari expected (I myself comment in
6Theory, Culture & Society 0(0)
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
detail on Berns and Rouvroy’s commentary in Automatic Society
[2016]).
This moment is, however, also the beginning of a wrong turn in
Deleuze. He is no longer Deleuzian enough for my taste when
he begins to talk about resistance. Now, it is precisely when he begins
to say, ‘there, there is the negative’, that we should not resist, but invent.
To be worthy is not to be passive or resistant (that is, ‘reactive’ in the
sense so often convoked by Deleuze), but to be inventive: it is to propose
a new agencement, as Deleuze and Guattari say, which must be organo-
logical, that is, enabled by technical invention itself, and as the reality of
repetition, from which we die and which saves.
What interests me is a kind of triangle between transcendental phil-
osophy (Kant, Husserl, Heidegger’s existential analytic), the Derridian
approach and Deleuzian quasi-causality. I try to create a thought for the
21st century with these three dimensions – plus psychoanalysis.
Spiritual Poverty
UM: We would like to ask you some questions about recent events,
including the terrorist attacks in Paris on 7 January 2015, and more
generally on the acts of violence committed by Muslim fundamentalism
around the world. Do you think that the attacks justified by reference to
Islam can be understood as a critique vis-a
`-vis the ‘lifestyle’ propagated
by neoliberal capitalism? Fundamentalists critique, for example, the
materialism of western culture, the absence of spiritual and family
values, and so on. Can this criticism be understood as a critique of the
lack of responsibility and care in the West?
BS: Before I give you my reply, I would like to make two remarks. Firstly,
until now I have refused to be interviewed on this subject. Within the Ars
Industrialis
4
group, several people wanted, in the hours after the attacks,
to open discussions. I opposed this. It was the first time I took such an
authoritarian decision as president of Ars Industrialis. I argued in essence
that even though I wanted messages to be circulated in order to make our
positions known to each other, and of course that we express our-
selves publicly as individuals, as a group I did not want us to take a
position.
What occurred is of extraordinary gravity and it is absolutely funda-
mental to take the time to reflect. The media-terrorist system is created to
produce emotion that prevents thinking (which is similar to what some
call ‘functional stupidity’ [Alvesson and Spicer, 2012]). Responding to
you will be the first time I have spoken on this subject – with, I hope,
much precaution, and in my own name. And I may say little apart from
a few generalities that will rather be reminders.
Second remark: I do not believe that the attacks in Paris were com-
mitted by Muslim fundamentalists. When we refer to jihadists, the vast
Wambacq et al. 7
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
majority if not all of the cases are very recent converts who, moreover, are
not always North African or African. Twenty-five per cent of jihadists in
France are French of European origin. Some are not even from ghettoized
banlieues, but from so-called ‘la France de
´serte
´e’, the devastated small
towns where there is nothing to do, including Normandy and the coast
of Brittany, such as the former seaman who is more than 50 and whose
trial has just begun. These jihadists are not in general Muslims: they claim
a phantasmatic adherence to Islam, but they have had no religious edu-
cation. It is a kind of claiming of spiritual identity, sudden, exalted and
extreme, that in general changes very quickly into ultra-violent processes
that have nothing religious about them. This is not to say that there are no
Muslims among these jihadists, but they are the exceptions. Nor is it to say
that there are no groups in Muslim countries manipulating them.
Having made these two remarks, I am not saying there is no issue with
Islam. But this is another question, even if we perhaps cannot completely
separate these two issues. The issue with Islam is also an issue with fun-
damentalism in general, that is, with Jewish Israeli fundamentalism and
with American evangelical fundamentalism, which may also be an
Occidentalist fundamentalism (Catholic fundamentalism, in France,
seems less vital, and Pope Francis seems to open a new epoch). The
singularity of the conditions in which the question of fundamentalism
arises, today, in all its many and varied forms (including secular funda-
mentalism), lies in what I have called ‘spiritual poverty’ (Stiegler, 2013b).
Since Aimer, s’aimer, nous aimer (‘To Love, to Love Me, to Love Us:
From September 11 to April 21’, in Stiegler, 2009a), I have tried to analyse
the various forms of noetic poverty – symbolic, affective, intellectual, spir-
itual, sexual, in brief: the misery and poverty that is based on the loss of the
feeling of existing. When I published this book on Richard Durn, who was
not a terrorist but a mass murderer, and who several weeks before the
massacre professed his need to kill, I finished this analysis by saying: there
are millions of Durns, and in the right conditions they will undertake the
passage to the act. The behaviour of Durn, of those who committed the
attacks in Madrid, of Anders Breivik in Norway, is above all criminal
behaviour conducted by people who have become mad from the feeling
of not existing. [And since this interview, at this moment when I am re-
reading and correcting the text, we have seen the pilot who drove an air-
liner into a mountain for no other reason than to take hundreds of lives in
what is described as his suicide – but can such a description be sufficient?]
Negative Sublimation
BS: Furthermore, this problem arises in a highly specific way in youth.
Yesterday morning, there was a program on France Culture radio fea-
turing a sociologist who had just published a book on the state of French
youth. He spoke about a rate of suicide never reached before, and of a
terrible widespread despair. A youth without a professional future, even
8Theory, Culture & Society 0(0)
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
when it is over-qualified. No process of identification, not to its parents,
not to any heroes, not to anything whatsoever. What can this end up
producing, especially at the end of adolescence? It can produce what
I call ‘negative sublimation’ (Stiegler, 2013b: 48). Negative sublimation
always appears in adolescence, where there is always a negative moment,
a moment of transgression, whether directed towards oneself (self-harm),
or against conventions (growing long hair and so on), or at relatives
(slamming the door, running away). To become adult is firstly to break
away from norms – all this is banal. Anti-conformism is the very soft
version of something that can nevertheless go further, and sometimes
very far, for example, up to killing one’s father.
In normal adolescent development, this anti-conformism leads to the
adolescent, faced with adults, presenting himself as being ethically more
correct. He becomes the righter of wrongs. He turns to his father and
asks him: ‘What did you yourself do during the war? Were you in the
resistance? No, you were a collaborator. You were just like everyone else.
You were just a sheep.’
There is always a moment when the adolescent begins to become this
righter of wrongs, and thus to become adult, because he is in the course
of figuring out what could be the position of an adult as the one who
prescribes or will prescribe – for example, to his own children. If this
righting of wrongs is not done through processes of positive identifica-
tion to a figure alternative to the parents, this can only create
complications.
Today, there is no figure with whom adolescence can positively identify.
Who could identify with Franc¸ ois Hollande? There remain the Syrians,
who are massacred by Assad and who are not sufficiently helped – and
who the media sometimes present as resistors to the Assad regime, and as
its victims, sometimes as Islamic State, as the devil, something systemat-
ically cultivated by this ‘state’: it is indeed quite diabolical. By doing this,
you create an incomprehensible scene of negative identification, if I can
put it like this, for a generation which has no experience, no religious
education, no political education, if any education at all.
Disintegration
UM: Why do you say it has no education? Didn’t it go to school?
BS: Three weeks before the attacks in Paris, I gave a lecture entitled ‘La
de
´sinte
´gration’, in the theatre of the famous northern quartier of
Marseilles (Stiegler, 2014).
5
These are the poorest neighbourhoods in
France: very high unemployment, violence, drugs and so on. My lecture
was addressed to the population, including National Front voters, because
I am convinced that, firstly, it serves no purpose to insult those who vote
for the National Front, and furthermore, it is not the right thing to do
Wambacq et al. 9
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
politically. We need to offer political proposals instead of insults. I had
decided not to speak about the National Front, nor about the violence in
this quartier, but to take things from a more distanced perspective. So I
spoke, among other things – but especially – about education.
Today, education is not working. Education, in the sense of public
instruction, was conceived by Jules Ferry to satisfy two things.
Firstly, broadly speaking, it was a matter of fulfilling the program of
Condorcet, that is, of establishing citizenship on the basis of a relative
rationality of the behaviour of the citizen, and of acquiring this rational-
ity through a frequentation of rational culture (mathematics, the sciences,
as well as history, geography and literature subjected to critique, and so
on).
Secondly, it was a matter of generating the feeling of belonging to the
nation. You know the famous statement by Jules Ferry: ‘one is not born
French, one becomes French’. This means that we can accommodate
anyone in France, which guarantees that one who is not born French
can become so. How does one become French? One does so, among other
things, at school. School is a machine to produce individuation. But for
this to work, it is necessary to have identification. And not only that: for
there to be identification, there needs to be idealization and sublimation.
I myself am individuated as French even though I have German origins.
My name is Stiegler; my maternal grandfather was called Trautmann. So
I am not so French, but I identified myself with the Sans-culottes – that
my ancestors may well have fought. As a child, I identified with all the
characters of French history: Louis XIV, Robespierre, Napoleon. I am
not at all a nationalist, but I am proud to be French. I love this history.
I know it and I claim it. I say this because today this is no longer the case
at all. These processes of identification no longer function.
Transindividuation through Language
BS: One day, in a lecture, I referred to a Flemish mayor
6
who became
well-known because of his refusal to provide housing to people who
could not speak Dutch. All the French newspapers, especially on
the left, denounced this decision. As for myself, I tried to understand
his position – which I believe first of all reflects the fact that we live in a
society in which what I have called the process of the individuation of
reference has disappeared (Stiegler, 2008: 112).
In the Middle Ages, in France, there were all kinds of local social
groups constituted as such, in Brittany, Occitania, Provence, Savoie
and so on. They are, generally speaking, counties or duchies that are
more or less at war. There is no national unity. The process of collective
individuation occurs at different levels – between feudalisms and divine
law, the language of which is Latin and the body of which are the clerics.
10 Theory, Culture & Society 0(0)
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
A society is always constituted by collective individuation phenomena
that are stratified at different levels, and which need a plane of reference
allowing the handling of disputes – in the Middle Ages this was, in
France, divine justice, until the end of the Ancien Re
´gime. After the
French Revolution, it was political justice – the nation – that was
imposed, including through a language, French, which comes eventually
to destroy all other languages.
The Flemish mayor was reacting to the fact that the market has des-
troyed every process of the individuation of reference. The transindividua-
tion of reference is a plane of sublimation and idealization. It is not on the
sameplaneasthatwhich,ascommodity,isexhaustedinitsconsumption.
The life of Jesus, the exemplarity of heroes, the nation: these are objects of
sublimation and idealization that allow constructions – they are ‘necessary
fictions’ – that make possible the transmission of knowledge. They consti-
tute what Pierre Legendre calls ‘the dogmatics of knowledge’, the indis-
putable (1999, 2006). For example, we all speak French, we all believe in
God, we all fight for the freedom of French territory even if we speak
Breton, and so on. Today, this plane that no longer exists has been
replaced by the transindividuation of marketing (Stiegler, 2008: 107ff.) –
and the Flemish mayor would like to rediscover transindividuation
through language.
Nihilism
BS: Capitalism has systematically pursued the capturing and harnessing of
all the dynamics of individuation and transindividuation, and has thereby
destroyed the transindividuation of reference, engendering frustration and
the exhaustion of transindividuation. Brand identification, piercing, this or
that ‘practice’ prompted by the market sooner or later reveals its vacu-
ousness, and leads to de-identification and disappointment: to the experi-
ence of what Nietzsche called nihilism – where the person who experiences
it discovers himself or herself to be nihil. To be nothing is to lose the feeling
of existing. This is what happened to Richard Durn. It is also the case for
all kinds of other suicidal murderers [from 11 September 2001 to 24 March
2015, from Mohamed Atta to Andreas Lubitz, passing through Durn, the
Kouachi brothers and many others].
An adolescent of 13 to 14 years, in any high school in France, and not
only in the poorest neighbourhoods, less and less sees his or her teacher
as a figure of ideality. Take the example of a biology teacher (in France, a
teacher of the life and earth sciences). Current knowledge in biology
raises huge questions. But nothing that is taught in today’s programs
enables teachers to address these questions: current knowledge in biology
puts in question everything that is taught in these programs. The teachers
who teach biology in high school have received a classical education
in molecular biology, which, in addition to being in debate today, led
to biotechnologies for which there is no satisfactory theory and which
Wambacq et al. 11
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
in some way empty of its meaning the statement that Franc¸ ois Jacob, in
The Logic of Life, placed at the heart of neo-Darwinism, namely, that
‘the [genetic] program cannot receive lessons from experience’ (1973: 3,
translation modified).
Today, technology directs all scientific activity, qua what is referred to
as ‘technoscience’ – where science has become a machine for producing
innovation, that is, efficiency, and not truth. I say, indeed, ‘producing
truth’, since I believe that this is the role of reason – as one produces
evidence in a trial and where truth has a performative dimension.
Science in the service of innovation no longer produces theorems but
efficiencies, or rather, efficient causes that ‘work’, that is, that function –
as a function of a whole from which the question has been eliminated: this
science is purely analytical; it flees the synthetic questions that constitute
the ideas of reason and what Whitehead (1929) called the function of
reason. But we do not know how and how long these efficient causalities
can ‘work’. For example, we do not know how to explain in a satisfactory
theoretical way what a genetically modified organism is within the whole
of life. There is no agreement about this within the scientific community.
Teachers who have to discuss this with their students – who hear it dis-
cussed constantly in the media, including through the issue of surrogate
motherhood – are de-legitimated, and they do not feel legitimate because
they have not been trained in these issues that do not yet form a knowledge
– but rather a non-knowledge. They do not teach prevailing knowledge,
they therefore no longer embody any ideality, and hence there does not
occur any process of identification or of sublimation: what results is a rejec-
tion, the painful awareness of which is increasing, on the part of students,
and that, combined with the absence of an economic future and the pro-
spect (for some, inevitable) of unemployment, can lead only to despair.
If now these students are approached by Wahhabi Islamist militants,
financed by the King of Saudi Arabia, who has put a lot of money into
the French banlieues, teaching them an extremely radical and anti-mod-
ernist version of Islam – Wahhabism – they identify with this ideology,
and do so all the more easily that the Saudi royal family is courted by the
entire West, beginning with Franc¸ ois Hollande.
How can young people who lack figures with whom to identify not
lose their bearings in such a situation? Any populist – whether they are a
far-right populist or a jihadist – can channel negative sublimation in their
direction. A youthful psychic apparatus cannot become adult without
sublimation. If he does not find it in his father, or in his teacher, or in
his priest, or in his football coach, he will look for it where he can find it.
And lures can be found among all those who exploit the misery and
poverty of the world: the far right, jihadism, fundamentalisms, but also
marketing, drug traffickers and so on. Now, these lures are all the more
effective in that sublimation is always founded on the lure of a necessary
fiction.
12 Theory, Culture & Society 0(0)
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
The Question of Islam
BS: In Islam, the sublimation of sexuality is very different from sublim-
ation in Jewish and Christian monotheism. Jewish and Christian monothe-
isms have themselves been transformed by Islam. Islam accomplished the
modernization of monotheism well before the Jews and Christians. At that
time, Islam was not just a religion, it was an extremely important military,
economic and political power that structured almost all of southern
Europe. Despite its divisions, the Islamic empire was, along with China,
the most prosperous region in the world. And then there occurred a slow
decline of Ottoman power, due to a reversal of the situation that, starting
in the 15th century and passing through the Reformation and Counter-
Reformation, led to colonialism and capitalism, and to the West prevailing
over Islam. Through many major conflicts and transformations of
Christianity, modernization shifted to Judeo-Christianity (the worst of
these conflicts being anti-Semitism).
This modernization of Judeo-Christianity – operating through cap-
italism in the sense of Max Weber (1992) – will lead to secularization,
that will in turn result in the progressive de-sacralization of a number of
prohibitions, in particular those related to sexuality and diet (including
through the marriage of pastors in the Reformed Church). Islam did
not go through this experience. Since the 15th or 16th century, Islam
has erected borders to protect itself from the destruction of its civiliza-
tion by the modernity of the Judeo-Christians, whom we should never
forget were firstly conquerors, warriors and murderous, just as Islam
was at its origin. Judaism, on the contrary, did integrate into
Christian Europe, but at the cost of regular massacres, the last and
the worst of which was Auschwitz. Judaism has often been at the fore-
front of the secularization brought by capitalism – and a great many
leading scientists of Europe were Jews. Freud is in this an exemplary
figure. The most emancipated of the Europeans in the era of Freud is
Freud, and he is a Jew. He was not a believer, but he claimed the
Mosaic culture.
In all this there remains something unresolved, something even deeply
repressed, including in French philosophy, notably in what French phil-
osophy has to say (or fails to say) about the divine, the religious and the
sacred. The few texts that touch upon the question of religious belief in
the world, on the status of God in western history and on the so-called
‘return of the religious’ are often lamentable. Yet until recently God was
the question of philosophy. Until the second half of the 19th century, one
cannot be a philosopher if one does not respond to the question of God.
It is a necessary question even if one is an atheist. It is the question that
has constituted philosophy since Plato, as borne out by Aristotle. Now,
what does one have to say, today, on the question of God and of the
death of God, beyond what we know from Weber and Freud, and since
Wambacq et al. 13
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
our experience of the destruction of the transindividuation of refer-
ence by marketing, which neither Freud nor Weber were able to
understand?
The Apocalypse
BS:IfwehavetolivethroughwhatNietzschecalled‘thefullmentofnihil-
ism’ that is, so to speak, the concretization of the ‘death of God’, then we
must pose the question of God – which is obviously not the same as resur-
recting Him. Today, we live the ordeal of nihilism; today, nihilism presents
itself as such, that is, in the form of the experience that I am nothing.
For a long time it did not present itself as this nothing. It presented
itself as ‘anything goes’, ‘I can do it all’, ‘I can transgress’. When nihilism
presents itself as such, can I recognize it? What is it that I am living? What
is my experience? It is the experience of what Kierkegaard (1980) already
described as despair. When despair becomes the most common experi-
ence, the most widespread, it is no longer possible to ignore the specific
questions raised by the death of God, the questions, dare I say, worthy of
the death of God. We are in the course of living through what we could
call, in religious language, the ‘apocalypse’ of nihilism. It is here that we
must become worthy of the ordeal of nihilism. By suggesting that he
himself arrives too soon with this statement, Nietzsche in some way
says to us: ‘I await the moment when you will truly encounter nihilism.
Now I am speaking to you and you believe you understand me. But in
fact you do not understand me at all. You believe you understand, but
you do not understand because if you understood, you would be living
through your apocalypse.’ Now, we are in the course of living our apoca-
lypse. And it is now that the question arises of our capacity to become the
quasi-cause of nothing,ofnihil. We must ‘assume’ the pharmacological
extremification of this situation. And what interests me in this situation is
firstly its visibly and irreducibly organological tenor, where it clearly
becomes necessary to ask about the organological conditions that have
made all this possible, and about the irreducibly pharmacological char-
acter of these conditions – which is a new way of encountering finitude
and the infinite.
Ordeals of Nihilism
UM: And do you believe that everyone is included in this absolute nihil-
ism? The Chinese, too, for example? Is it throughout the whole world
that there is this experience of nihilism?
BS: This is a difficult and fundamental question. Yes, I think that
throughout the world there is this experience, but that it is experienced
in very different ways. So, also in China. The reason I say this is that the
14 Theory, Culture & Society 0(0)
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Chinese recognize themselves in my books – quite a few of which are
already translated into Chinese.
UM: It is not in terms of exoticism that they are interested?
BS: No, I don’t think so. In 2006, 15 per cent of Chinese people were
already thought to be depressed. Given the speed of the destabilization of
social bodies through the adoption of the western way of life, I believe
that this figure will increase significantly. This does not mean that the
same thing will be experienced everywhere in the same way.
In the shantytowns of Rabat, I saw in the late 1980s how people
watchFrenchprogramslikeChamps Elyse
´es, a popular and extremely
vulgar show that presented a completely false image of France.
Morocco’s poor thus lived nihilism via French television broadcasts.
Technology exports processes, the main one of which is the liquidation
of processes of the transindividuation of reference, which is the major,
concrete reality of nihilism – in return provoking ‘reactivity’ in the
Nietzschean sense, ressentiment, regression. The process of annihilation
can be accomplished in anti-nihilistic ways, through reactions against
nihilism that are obviously, in fact, expressions of nihilism (for example,
fundamentalism). This is what Paolo Vignola analyses through his
symptomatology (2013, 2014). For myself, fundamentalism is a reaction
of nihilism to nihilism, an expression of nihilism, and not a ‘return of the
religious’.
Inversions of Causality
UM: So do you identify the cause with technology rather than with
consumerism, for example?
BS: No, I would not say that. When there are events as tragic and serious
as the attacks of 7 January, they produce, as a general rule, inversions of
causality where the effect becomes the cause and the cause becomes the
effect. I have tried to show this in Pharmacologie du Front national (2013a):
those who vote for the National Front in fact suffer negative causes, but
transform these causes into effects and these effects into causes – they make
immigrants the cause of their suffering even though immigrants also suffer,
and often more so, from the same causal factors. These inversions consti-
tute a fundamental feature of pharmacology: when the pharmakon reveals
its toxicity, we look for a pharmakos, a scapegoat, rather than change our
relation to the pharmakon, which can only be done collectively and which
those who exploit the toxic effects of the pharmakon systematically try to
prevent. In the case of jihadism, similar processes occur.
It is not technology that produces inversions of causality. It is the fact
that technology is exploited by a capitalism that has become extremely
virulent, violent and totally irresponsible, and that brings massive
destruction to social structures as well as mental structures and natural
Wambacq et al. 15
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
environments. The destruction of social structures is not a secondary
consequence: it is a goal. Capitalism wants to destroy family, health
and educational structures, and so on, in order to make them subject
exclusively to its model, which is the ‘rationality’ of the market – which is
in reality an irrational computational rationalization that eliminates
everything incalculable, that is, every singularity.
From the perspective of capitalism, only the market is rational, every-
thing else is irrational, thus the market has all the rights: it can destroy
everything, even the education of children. The market will educate chil-
dren better than can their parents, their teachers or their pastors.
It is obviously through technology that this occurs: this ultra-aggres-
sive consumerism is perpetually undertaking research in order to appro-
priate the latest innovations. The development of technology demands
that it be immediately placed into the service of these models of social-
ization, which are in fact models of de-socialization.
For me, ultimately, the causes of all these catastrophes (the events of
7 January, the far right in France becoming the majority, and so on) stem
firstly from the fact that there is no public power capable of proposing a
true socialization of these technological powers. We must place these
powers back into the service, not of disindividuation and the destruction
of individuals, but of reindividuation, re-idealization, the reconstitution
of a political space and a solvent economy.
One can always invoke historical, diplomatic, political and theological
causes in order to explain these catastrophes. It is important to remember
that not only the Koran but also the Bible contains many texts that are
essentially about conquest, and therefore warlike, texts that have been
the basis of the Crusades, the Inquisition and so on. But we should also
remember that we have also seen the de-colonization of the British
Empire, on the one hand, and on the other hand the neo-colonization
of the Middle East and the Near East by the United States. All the
terrible, interconnected catastrophes involving Iraq, Kuwait, Iran,
Israel, Lebanon, Syria and so on are tied to western interventionist poli-
cies, whether these policies are English, American, French or all of them
together, or those of the World Trade Organization, policies that have
brought destruction to these societies.
Take for example Iraq. The current crisis in Iraq was caused by Saudi
Arabia and the United States in an absolutely deliberate way. The
ambassador of the United States encouraged Saddam Hussein to
attack Kuwait. His party, the Baath, was allied with the Soviet Union,
India and the non-aligned countries. Even if there was not much to like
about the Baath party, it had built a modern country, with schools,
hospitals, a legal system, and it therefore contained sectarian Islam.
All this is now in ruins and inhabited by a collective madness that we
westerners have caused. In Afghanistan, the United States supported
Ahmad Shah Massoud against the Soviet Union, who was eventually
16 Theory, Culture & Society 0(0)
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
sacrificed to the Wahhabites. All this is absolutely corrupt. The West has
created this situation, and the despair that has been the result. It is a
question not of the ‘clash of civilizations’ referred to by Samuel
Huntington (1996) but of the criminal actions of the West in a civilization
called Islam and that has led to madness throughout the whole region
and not only in Islam: in Israel, too, some become mad – extremists, but
also in the army, as Israeli soldiers say themselves. Unfortunately, in all
this the West reaps what it has sown.
All these facts, however, cannot absolve us from the need to confront
the fact that we are not capable – we, the ‘intellectuals’, we, the people
who claim to think – of using contemporary technology to produce
models different from those developed by consumerism. And this is the
first problem. If we were able to do so, all those kids who become sui-
cidal, and who sometimes act out in Syria or elsewhere, would invest
instead in new causes and would project new idealities. We have no
causes to offer them. This is the problem, and it is our problem – it is
our responsibility.
Translated by Daniel Ross
Acknowledgment
This interview was originally published in Dutch in the journal De uil van Minerva. All
permissions requests, other than for the use of the English translation, should be directed
to the editorial office of De uil van Minerva (http://deuilvanminerva.be/).
Notes
1. ‘“Pansexuality” is not the assertion that sexuality is everything, or that every-
thing can be explained in terms of sexuality and only by it; but it is the
discovery that, in the exploration of the unconscious that is the specific
domain of psychoanalysis, there is no path that does not constantly cross
and intersect sexual representations. If it is not everything, sexuality is never-
theless present throughout the psychoanalytic field: it is coextensive with the
unconscious’ (Laplanche, 1997: 1).
2. As Ian James suggests (2013: 308).
3. Deleuze: ‘if we die of repetition we are also saved and healed by it’ (1994: 6),
and ‘if repetition makes us ill, it also heals us; if it enchains and destroys us, it
also frees us’ (p. 19).
4. Ars Industrialis is an international association of citizens working ‘for an
industrial politics of technologies of spirit’; it was created on 18 June 2005
at the initiative of George Collins, Marc Cre
´pon, Catherine Perret, and
Bernard and Caroline Stiegler. For information see: arsindustrialis.org/.
5. The event was organized by Plane
`te Emergences and Ars Industrialis in the
framework of the festival ‘Marseille retrouve le nord’.
6. Marc Van Asch, mayor of Vilvoorde from 2007 to 2012.
Wambacq et al. 17
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
References
Alvesson M and Spicer A (2012) A stupidity-based theory of management.
Journal of Management Studies 49(7): 1194–1220.
Berns T and Rouvroy A (2013) Gouvernementalite
´algorithmique et perspectives
d’e
´mancipation. Re
´seaux 1(177): 163–196.
Deleuze G (1990) The Logic of Sense. London: Athlone.
Deleuze G (1994) Difference and Repetition. New York: Columbia University
Press.
Deleuze G (1995) Control and becoming. In: Negotiations. New York: Columbia
University Press, pp. 169–76.
Huntington S (1996) The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World
Order. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Jacob F (1973) The Logic of Life: A History of Heredity. New York: Pantheon
Books.
James I (2013) Le temps de la technique. In: Dillet B and Jugnon A (eds)
Technologiques: La pharmacie de Bernard Stiegler. Nantes: Ce
´cile Defaut,
pp. 301–12.
Kierkegaard S (1980) The Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological
Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening. Princeton: Princeton University
Press.
Laplanche J (1997) Introduction. In: Freud S, La vie sexuelle. Paris: Presses
Universitaires de France, pp. 1–4.
Legendre P (1999) Sur la question dogmatique en Occident: aspects the
´oriques.
Paris: Fayard.
Legendre P (2006) Sur la question dogmatique en Occident. II, Nomenclator.
Paris: Fayard.
Ross D (2013) Pharmacology and critique after deconstruction. In: Moore G
and Howells C (eds) Stiegler and Technics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University
Press, pp. 243–58.
Stiegler B (1998) Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus. Stanford:
Stanford University Press.
Stiegler B (2008) La Te
´le
´cratie contre la de
´mocratie. Lettre ouverte aux repre
´sen-
tants politiques. Paris: Flammarion.
Stiegler B (2009a) Acting Out. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Stiegler B (2009b) Technics and Time, 2: Disorientation. Stanford: Stanford
University Press.
Stiegler B (2011a) The Decadence of Industrial Democracies: Disbelief and
Discredit, 1. Cambridge: Polity.
Stiegler B (2011b) Technics and Time, 3: Cinematic Time and the Question of
Malaise. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Stiegler B (2013a) Pharmacologie du Front national. Paris: Flammarion.
Stiegler B (2013b) Uncontrollable Societies of Disaffected Individuals: Disbelief
and Discredit, 2. Cambridge: Polity.
Stiegler B (2014) La de
´sinte
´gration. Lecture delivered at the The
´aˆ tre du Merlan,
Marseille. Available at: http://arsindustrialis.org/confe
´rences-de-bernard-
stiegler-a
`-aix-en-provence-et-marseille (consulted March 2016).
Stiegler B (2015) States of Shock: Stupidity and Knowledge in the 21st Century.
Cambridge: Polity.
18 Theory, Culture & Society 0(0)
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Stiegler B (2016) Automatic Society, Volume 1: The Future of Work. Cambridge:
Polity.
Vignola P (2013) Symptomatologies du de
´sir entre le XXe et XXIe sie
`cle. Lecture
delivered at the summer school of pharmakon.fr, E
´pineuil-le-Fleuriel. La
Deleuziana. Available at: http://www.ladeleuziana.org/symptomatologies-du-
desir-entre-xx-et-xxi-siecle-par-paolo-vignola/ (consulted March 2016).
Vignola P (2014) Per una sintomatologia sociale della creativita
`.La Deleuziana.
Available at: http://www.ladeleuziana.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/5-24-
PDF.pdf (accessed March 2016).
Vignola P (forthcoming) Symptoms and speed of nou&: Toward a critical inven-
tion of the future. London Journal of Critical Thought 1.
Weber M (1992) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. London and
New York: Routledge.
Whitehead A (1929) The Function of Reason. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Judith Wambacq is the author of Thinking Between Deleuze & Merleau-
Ponty (Ohio University Press, forthcoming in 2017). Together with Bart
Buseyne, she translated Bernard Stiegler’s Passer a
`l’acte into Dutch and
has published several articles on Stiegler’s philosophy. Dr. Wambacq is
affiliated with the philosophy department of Ghent University and with
Ghent’s School of Arts.
Daniel Ross obtained his doctorate in political science from Monash
University in 2002, with a thesis on Heidegger. In 2004 he co-directed
the award-winning three-hour documentary essay The Ister, and in the
same year published Violent Democracy (Cambridge University Press). In
2015–16 he was a Prometeo Researcher at Yachay Tech University. He
has published widely on the work of Bernard Stiegler, and has translated
dozens of his articles, chapters and lectures, as well as eight of Stiegler’s
books, most recently States of Shock (Polity, 2015) and, later this year,
Automatic Society, Volume 1: The Future of Work (Polity, 2016).
Bart Buseyne studied philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.
Together with Judith Wambacq he has translated works of the philoso-
pher Bernard Stiegler into Dutch. He is currently affiliated with the
National Library of Belgium in Brussels.
Bernard Stiegler is a French philosopher who has published over 30 books.
He obtained his doctorate from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences
Sociales, is president of the association Ars Industrialis and director of the
Institut de Recherche et d’Innovation, which he founded at the Centre
Georges Pompidou. He is visiting professor at the Humboldt University
of Berlin, distinguished professor at Nanjing University and associate pro-
fessor at the Universite
´de Technologie de Compie
`gne. He has taught at
Goldsmiths, University of London, Cambridge University, the Swiss
Wambacq et al. 19
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, the Leuphana University of
Lu
¨neburg, the Humboldt University of Berlin and Northwestern
University in Chicago. He created and runs pharmakon.fr, an online phil-
osophy school, and has been program director at the Colle
`ge international
de philosophie, director of the research unit ‘Connaissances, Organisations
et Syste
`mes Techniques’ at the Universite
´de Compie
`gne, deputy director
general of the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, director of IRCAM and
director of the Cultural Development Department at the Centre Pompidou.
20 Theory, Culture & Society 0(0)
by guest on July 27, 2016tcs.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... The Voice is an Imaginary Organ The proposition that the voice is an imaginary organ begins with reference to researchers at the University of Delaware, who are piloting a project of growing vocal folds for close molecular analysis (Kukich, 2016). In previous research, where vocal folds could be seen but not touched, this stage, where they can be grown, touched, and (possibly) implanted, is speaking to a new 'organological' stage in voice studies and voice knowledge: in Stiegler's terms, an organ, organization, technic, and organicism (Wambacq et al., 2016). ...
Article
Full-text available
This article is interested in ‘voice imaging’ as a technical field through which people experience new relations between organic and inorganic forms of life. Grounded in a study of voice imaging in historical and contemporary scientific research, the article applies and expands on Bernard Stiegler’s ‘General Organology’, with an eye to understanding the voice as a dynamic capacity for volition. By exploring the scientific research into voice imaging, the article argues that the voice, as a cultural image, is an imaginary organ that transgresses the boundaries of technological, biological, physical, psychological, social and cultural frameworks.
Article
Full-text available
Propósito/Contexto. Este artículo hace un recorrido por la filosofía de la técnica de Bernard Stiegler, con un enfoque en la dimensión moral de la perspectiva farmacológica. Su propósito está motivado por las cuestiones bioéticas que surgen de la perspectiva stiegleriana, en particular, por lo que concierne a los fenómenos de las adicciones a la tecnología digital y los efectos sociales y cognitivos que el contexto multimedia genera. Metodología/Enfoque. El enfoque metodológico que sustenta la elaboración de este artículo es la perspectiva farmacológica, elaborada por el propio Stiegler, por medio de la cual es posible replantear las bases de la ética y la moral en el contexto digital. Resultados/Hallazgos. El artículo hace una contribución teórica al debate sobre los efectos problemáticos y los beneficios de la adopción de la tecnología digital en todos los campos del saber y de las relaciones sociales, con un énfasis en los trastornos de la atención y los síntomas de malestar psicosocial. Discusión/Conclusiones/Contribuciones. Su contribución está en los elementos útiles que ofrece para un acercamiento metodológico entre la filosofía de la tecnología y la bioética (desde la farmacología y la organología). En este sentido, el trabajo de investigación y análisis del corpus stiegleriano se presenta como una aclaración de las apuestas bioéticas que conviven en la perspectiva farmacológica.
Chapter
This chapter offers an individuated perspective on the voice and the body, exploring how the voice emerged in the condition of a scientific bifurcation. It is intended as an approachable introduction to the infrastructures of audibility and the imaginary organ. Moving away from the human voice as a discourse, the chapter explores the media materiality of the early voice sciences, with particular attention devoted to the invention of the laryngoscope in the nineteenth century as a form of embodied epistemic visualization of a body’s infrastructure of audibility.
Chapter
This chapter examines contemporary analyses of the end of labour. Using Marx’s theory of alienated labour, drawn from Hegel and reflected in Adam Smith, the chapter theorizes various levels of analysis for Fordism and post-Fordism before moving to review contemporary sociology of labour. It points that contemporary sociology of labour is dialectically intertwined with the so-called finance capitalism and globalization and shows that any discussion of the disappearance of labour as a factor of production needs to take into account the emerging global systems of finance. In this context, the chapter briefly explores the challenge of intelligent systems and intelligent manufacturing. Looking at works of André Gorz, the chapter shows that historicity of work is useful, but far from enough, for understanding the consequences of today’s disappearance of labour as a factor of production. It seeks answers in philosophy of Bernard Stiegler and points towards the importance of the ‘battle for intelligence’ inherent in the notion of critical thinking. Finally, the chapter places this battle in the context of the postdigital reason and concludes with the call for radical reimagination of education, work and the relationships between them, in and for the postdigital reality.
Article
We are living in and beyond two massive changes in the world, both of which must be addressed by education, the caretaker of memory. First is the geological era of the Anthropocene—a crisis of nature and mankind, a fundamental geo-trauma. While climate change is a reality which we are belatedly just beginning to understand as we increasingly experience its changing weather patterns, the Anthropocene remains unknown or invisible for many. As a concrete case in point, the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in the Tōhoku region of Japan remains an ongoing but largely invisible crisis. Indeed, there is a sense of collective disavowal regarding what we must do in its wake, for it is a crisis which effects not only the contemporary but future generations. The second is equally momentous. The advent of mass access to the Internet in the 1990s and its effects on learning, knowledge, societal relations and psychical life are also just beginning to be understood. For Bernard Stiegler the ecological crisis and the technological question go hand in hand. To explain this position we are naming Stiegler not only a utopian thinker in the classical sense but also a utopian thinker who offers practical ‘negentropic’ weapons to contest entropic becoming in the digital world. We are arguing Stiegler’s oeuvre and pharmacological method has much to give to the philosophy of education as it seeks to account for the crisis in education.
Article
This speculative paper enquires into the discourse of the ‘end of labour’ or ‘disappearance of labour’ as a result of the development of ‘intelligent capitalism’ clearly seen in ‘intelligent manufacturing’ systems that are now pursued and developed as Industry 4.0 strategy in East Asia, Germany and others parts of the world. When ‘intelligent capitalism’ becomes the norm rather the exception what happens to labour as a factor of production and what happens to economy and society based on capital and labour? The paper briefly reviews the sociology of labour from a Marxist view to examine conceptions of Fordist and post-Fordist capitalism, and explore the advert of ‘intelligent capitalism’ to pose the question concerning education. © 2018
Chapter
Full-text available
This article surveys developments in educational accountabilities over the last three decades. In this time, accountability in schools and schooling systems across Anglo- American nations has undergone considerable change, including a move away from bureaucratic approaches that endorsed teacher professionalism. Educational accountabilities have evolved with the restructuring of the state through new public management and the emergence of network governance. Accountability can be understood in two senses: (1) being held to account; and (2) giving an account. Within the post-bureaucratic state, the former sense has become dominant in the work of schools, principals, and teachers, and has affected curriculum, pedagogy, and student learning. For instance, schooling systems in Anglo-American nations have introduced standardized testing to hold schools and teachers to account. Comparative performance data are now made publicly available through websites and the creation of league tables of school performance. These processes are central to the creation of markets in schooling, where comparative test data are deemed necessary to enable parental choice of schools and, in turn, to raise standards. This top-down, performative mode of accountability also moves the field of judgment away from teachers and the profession. There are now emergent attempts to reconstitute more democratic and educative modes of accountability, which are multilateral and multidirectional in character, and which seek to limit the negative effects of top-down data-driven accountability. These approaches reassert trust in the teaching profession and reconstitute parents and communities as democratic participants in schooling. We argue that accountability is a pharmakon that requires balancing of mechanisms for holding educators to account and opportunities for educators to give accounts of their work. The article reviews relevant literature to provide a brief history of accountability in schooling, with particular emphasis on Anglo-American contexts. Drawing on the work of Ranson, we examine four types of existing educational accountabilities before concluding with a discussion of three alternative approaches.
Article
Full-text available
Faced with algorithmic governmentality Algorithmic governmentality is characterized primarily by the following dual movement: a) abandoning all forms of “scale”, “benchmark”, or hierarchy, in favour of an immanent normativity evolving in real time, from which a “dual statistics” of the world emerges and which seems to do away with the old hierarchies devised by normal or average people; and b) avoiding all confrontation with individuals, whose opportunities for subjectification have become increasingly scarce. This dual movement seems to be the fruit of contemporary statistics’ focus on relations. We seek to assess the extent to which these two aspects of the “algorithmic governmentality” thereby outlined, with its sole reliance on relations, could facilitate, first, processes of individuation through relations (Simondon) and, second, the emergence of new forms of life through the plane of immanence overtaking the plane of organization (Deleuze-Guattari). Through this comparison with the main contemporary philosophies of relations, it thus appears that thinking about the evolution and processes of individuation through relations necessarily pertains to the “disparate” – a heterogeneity of orders of magnitude, a multiplicity of regimes of existence – which algorithmic governmentality precisely incessantly suppresses by enclosing (digitized) reality on itself. Algorithmic governmentality tends rather to foreclose such emancipation perspectives by centring individuation processes on the subjective monad.
Article
This text is an excerpt from the introduction to Uncontrollable Societies of Disaffected Individuals: Disbelief and Discredit (Vol. 2) by Bernard Stiegler, translated into English by Daniel Ross © Polity Press, Cambridge 2012.
Book
A companion piece to The Concept of Anxiety, this work continues Søren Kierkegaard's radical and comprehensive analysis of human nature in a spectrum of possibilities of existence. Present here is a remarkable combination of the insight of the poet and the contemplation of the philosopher. In The Sickness unto Death, Kierkegaard moves beyond anxiety on the mental-emotional level to the spiritual level, where--in contact with the eternal--anxiety becomes despair. Both anxiety and despair reflect the misrelation that arises in the self when the elements of the synthesis--the infinite and the finite--do not come into proper relation to each other. Despair is a deeper expression for anxiety and is a mark of the eternal, which is intended to penetrate temporal existence.