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Symposium on Philosophy
 



Bernard Stiegler
Individuation, hypomnemata and grammatisation

As an introduction I would like to say firstly that for me philosophy is a type of struggle producing frictions, struggle for the becoming, struggle against regression that we are always at sides as psychic individuals or as collective individuals, that is societies. And I would like to say that philosophical concepts are weapons for leading this kind of fight. In that extent philosophical concepts are historical productions of the becoming. And this becoming is not determined by the becoming of techniques. The question of this determination is the object of what I call a general organology. Secondly I will say that techniques are always a kind of weapon. Thirdly philosophy at its beginning has denied and repressed techniques or rather has put technique on the side of enemy by identification between it and sophistic. At last today techniques has become technology that is industrial technology that is also a new relationship between techniques, science, individuals and societies. Before techniques and science were structurally opposed and thus organized psychic and collective individuation. This is from this considering that I will now develop my thesis about the possibilities for invention of philosophical concepts today. Now for few years into the 21st century which will be the century of nanotechnologies and which will see unheard-of relations between techniques, science and desire. The crucial question of what links and distinguishes power, knowledge and the will that is to say the question of what can at time set the infinitives in French which are pouvoir, savoir and vouloir into oppositions, composing them at the same time by posing them together. This question which more profoundly and par excellence is the problem of thought, this question is a problem for us so much so as to appear to have become unthinkable, the test and ordeal of powerlessness itself. The great transformation of these terms inasmuch as they are constituted only through the relation they form begins with the advent of machines as a stage in the process of grammatisation. I call grammatisation the process whereby the flux and flow networking our existences become discreet elements: writing is thus, as the breaking into discreet elements of the flux of speech a stage in grammatisation. Now, the process of grammatisation, which is the dawn of the industrial revolution, certainly surpasses the sphere of language, one wants to say that the same thing happens to the sphere of logos, and invades the sphere of the body, first and foremost the gestures of workers which are discredited in view of their automatic reproduction while at the same time the machines and apparatuses of reproducibilities of the visible and the audible appear on the scene. This grammatisation of gesture which is the key to what Marx describes as the process of proletarianization that is to say is the loss of knowledge and of know-how, and which continues with cognitive technologies as the grammatisation of all kinds of knowledge in general, including linguistic knowledge now transformed into technologies and industries of language. But also the knowledge inherent in what can remain in French as savoir vivre, that is to say behavior in general. From user profiling to the grammatisation of affects as cognition of emotions, leading to what is known today as cognitive capitalism, which is also cultural capitalism, which I analyze elsewhere as hyper industrial cognitive capitalism, where new forms of transductive relations between process of psychic, social, technical and scientific individuation are seen to appear. In this evolution capitalism characterized firstly as power gained over bodies and to this extent as disciplinary society has focused, rapidly becomes a dispositif in the control of consciousness and ultimately of the unconscious of individuals that is to say of that which assures the composition of consciousness and the body. Capitalism thus mutates from disciplinary societies to control societies as Deleuze says. Be that as it may the unconscious is uncontrollable. Thus I was able to proclaim recently that the new formula which connects and disconnects power, knowledge and will while grammatising them at the same time is what leads to uncontrollable societies by producing essentially powerlessness of the rational. Thinking of nano mutations to come, as designate a process leading to the convergence of technologies of matter, of information and of living entities and as potential of grammatisation is what brings to the fore techniques and technology as firstly structural factors of pre historical, proto historical and historical mutations in general inasmuch as they form systems which are also processes of technical individuation interacting with the processes of psychic and collective idividuation and periodically upsetting them. And secondly as the basis of largely outstanding problems posed by what we call without actually knowing very well what is meant by the term the nanotechnologies and this not very well is one of the questions overdetermining them precisely all under the quantic principle of undetermination. The thought of such a becoming and of what seems unthinkable therein both as the powerlessness and the problem of thought requires a reading of Simondon, the French philosopher, not only because the Simondonian critique of hylomorphism and substantialism provides the indispensable categories for the characterization of nano-physical-chemical problems but also because only Simondon can spark a thinking of the psychic, collective, technical and scientific process of individuation as forming a transductive relation wherein the affect that is desire as psychic individuation socializing itself always already into will transforms itself into knowledge, that is into power, that is into both science and techniques. The relation power-knowledge-will thus appears as having to be thought as a relation between psychic, collective, technical and scientific processes. Although it is henceforth common knowledge that Simondon, a top-notch French philosopher, but little known and rarely studied in France let alone elsewhere, deeply and directly influenced Gilles Deleuze and through him Michel Foukault. The incredible questions brought by the nanotechnologies and the problem they pull back into the arena as the relation between power, knowledge and will, as we shall see below, between desire and techniques could spur a new reading of the questions handled by these thinkers from a Simondians vantage and in the shadow of his limitations. That should be also a new deal with what one called the French theory. Power is at once knowledge that is to say acquired and accumulated experience and potential in the Aristotelian sense, a dynamis, which also can be the material cause, and in accordance with the idea that techniques, as cause efficient empowers mankind that is to say bestows with knowledge and consequently power to transform nature, in the east Aristotelian sense all of these is overdetermined by the cause finale which is the origin of mobility, the object of desire par excellence organizing energia and entelechia, that is to say passage from the dynamis to the entelechia.
The fact that power and knowledge despite everything since the Platonic watershed tending to set them up as an opposition are able to unit in what Dominique Janicaud called the power potential of the rational designating thereby the age in which techniques becomes industrial technology in a reconciliation with science, this is what concretizes the coalescence of knowledge and power which since Plato, philosophers have always opposed as technical emperia and theoretical episteme. This new assemblage, the power potential of the rational, is what Habermas called technoscience defining it as the power of calculation constituting itself as rationality in relation to an end transforms no longer only nature but culture as well that is to say society in a systematic and planified way, in this sense by then rational, as ideology.
Now, in our age, the society engendered by this power potential of the rational namely cultural and hyperindustrial and now financierised capitalism is what has engendered a profound powerlessness of the rational, a deep irrationality.
Thus a new century begins, an inception that can be rather precisely dated 09.11.2001. If power is first of all techniques, it is techniques also and originally as knowledge. That is why Heidegger, referring to Homer, insists on the fact that knowledge is first and foremost know-how, and that the episteme designated back then technical knowledge, knowledge as knowing the strings or being knowledgeable, back then that is to say prior to what will nevertheless historically accomplish the separation between knowledge in the sense of episteme and techniques and as the effect of the advent of that hypomnesic technique which is writing and which is precisely a technique of power just as much as of knowledge. I upheld this position, when writing turns logos into power, into logography as Plato says. Philosophy constitutes itself in opposing itself as knowledge to the sophistic power of logos having become tekhne in the service of the control of opinion, of willing, by pythanon of rhetoric, as rhetoric as we can learn from Gorgias. Now Derrida the reader of Pheudras, shows that knowledge is itself and always already differances (with a), that is to say an economy of the trace, that is to say a technology of the supplement and to that extent a hypomnesis. The role of hypomnesis and the hypomnemata in the constitution of forms of knowledge as well as power is what Simondons philosophy allows to think and what that philosophy fails to think through. By forming a general theory of what he calls the processes of individuation, Simondon attempts to elude what he identifies as the two characteristic pillars of all metaphysics issuing from Plato and Aristotle substantionalism and hylomorphism. The hylomorphic schema and substantionlism presuppose the existence of a principle of individuation prior to individuation itself. These two poles assume an already constituent individual to account for individuation. Now, the point is to maintain oneself in neither unity nor duality but in the process to know the individual through individuation rather than individuation on the basis of the individual. The individual reflects the process which encompasses and surpasses the former, cutting across its space and tensing it. The individual is not the origin of the process but a moment as phase in an individual-milieu couple which itself presupposes a pre-individual reality whose potentials are not exhausted in one stroke by individuation. In short this complex relation is a tension. Individuation is a play of a difference of forces, the individual is what maintains itself in the tension of the inaccomplishment in command of all individuation and as regards the case of the psycho-social individual by the deferral of its end, of its death (Heidegger) and of its pleasure (Freud) which is the effectivity of primordial differance (Derrida). This is a play of a differance (with a) in potential between the phases of becoming through the individual and commanding it to individuate itself that is to say ordering it to produce a differance (with a) retaining it in the process of its individuation, considered as the only ontogenetic one as it is the operation of a complete being in a system containing something of the incompatability with respect to itself. There is then at the heart of the individual an irreducible inadequation which produces the process of individuation. The play of pre-individual forces in the individual which becomes concretized as tendencies. It is then necessary to consider the becoming as the dimension of a being in a de-phased state. Temporality is this de-phased state. Qua spacing that is to say the syncristallisation of structures. This is very well is a phaseless being but as pre individual it remains inaccessible. It is only the potential of which individuation is an act always already de-phasing itself into potential differing itself and thereby differentiating itself, individuating itself. The pre-individual is for the individual always already there. This already as the potential of an inadequation instantiated by the individual, constitutes itself from out of an over saturation of being, being conserves itself through becoming. This conservation constitutes the physical, biological or psycho-social already. The transmission, that becoming is then the transductive operation that re-inscribes the conserved into the flux of individuation. Transductivity means the propagation of an operation between two terms constituted as terms by the operation itself. Transduction corresponds to that existence of relations coming into existence when a pre-individual being individuates itself. Thus the components of an internal combustion engine are the terms of a transductive operation of functional overdetermination that Simondon names concretization. In the case of psycho-social individuation the pre-individual individuates itself at once socially and psychically. Thus the psychological no more precedes the sociological that, the other way around, they are poles in a relation that constitutes them in the tension of a pre-individual already there they share. The pre-individual already is the bearer of tensions that transductively transform themselves into structures. This transformation is a quantic leap embedded in an indetermination that Simondon here intends in a Heideggerian sense. The relations of uncertainty call into crisis all separation into bipolarity. The separation is a result which diminishes the phenomenon in order to think individuation you must consider being not a substance or matter or form but as a tensed system oversaturated above all the level of unity consisting not only in itself and unable to be thought in terms of the principle of the excluded middle term the concrete being or complete being that is to say the pre-individual being is a being that is more than a unity. The individual is thus defined as a moment in a process, it appears as a metastable equilibrium. Metastability accounts for psycho-social individuation as the deferral of an individual identity never fully constituted. Now never completely constituted psycho-social individuation confronts the identity of technical objects, of all artifacts in general already constituted. But this advance of techniques, objective identities of a psycho-social identity, is not studied by Simondon whereas it is explicitly through his analysis of industrial technical objects as a new age of individuation that he is able to detail the political and historical scope of his philosophical project. The work of Simondon On the Mode of the Existence of Technical Objects indeed proposes the invention of a new relationship of culture to techniques in a context wherein mashinism that is to say the industrial process of concretization as a realization of technical becoming results for the proletarian in the losing of his individuation. In the 19th century the former technical individual, the tool bearer, was a worker. But then he becomes the servant, the worker becomes the servant as proletarian of the machine which is the new technical individual. This state of affairs is a particular case of what emerged then on more generally since then as the entropic dimension of mechanical technology. This brings on a conflict between culture which is an entropy reality of psychic and collective individuation and techniques which is however the condition of this individuation. Simondon affirms that he has a solution to this state of affairs, to this blockage in psychic and collective individuation, to this alienation, that of a theorization of technical becoming what he calls mechanology and whose final axiom is that If man or culture can be alienated by techniques this is caused not by the machine but by the misunderstanding of its nature and essence. Mechanology in the philosophy of Simondon has confidence in the knowledge, it has commissioned itself to constitute in a clearly political vantage even though elsewhere Simondon says that individuation can never be known and that is precisely because individuation can never be known that its knowledge can only be political. Mechanology is a theory of power even when it theorizes an individuation that cannot be totally known since individuation in general and as such can never be known. This power is thus also a default of power. But this default of power is then precisely what Simondon never theorizes. Now I believe that this profound and serious theoretical default is due to the fact that Simondon is unclear on the subject of the process of technical individuation. First he speaks nowhere about the process of technical individuation even if he refers everywhere throughout He has established in The Individual and Its Psycho-Biological Genesis that the individual is only a phase of being relative to the operation of individuation from out of which it comes into existence. There is no individual without a process of individuation. Secondly, while he does develop a theory of psychic individuation as always already also a collective individuation he never broaches the role of technical individuation when there is one. And more precisely in what binds the psychic and the collective.
I will now turn in this paper to the theoretical hesitation concerning the link in which technical individuation consists but also as to its delinking potential and thus to disindividuation as entropic potential. I will examine as constitutive of the kernel of the question of the relations holding between power, knowledge and techniques, the consequences of these ambiguities in regard to religion and psychoanalyses in Simondon inasmuch as they make a political mechanology impossible. Simondons discourses on religion profoundly recast the question by placing it in essential rapport with techniques and yet it is surprisingly disappointing. It ends up showing that techniques is a result of a decomposition of a pre-technical magical unity which means that technique is but a moment in psychic and collective individuation. And that it plays no part in the constitution of pre-individual milieus whereas Simondon underscores its role as stabilizer of the trans-individual that is to say of that whereby psychic individuals can individuate themselves socially. The technical object becomes the support and the symbol of this relation we wish to name trans-individual. And yet the transindividual is not technological. To the contrary Simondon defies it as nature. The being subject, entity subject can be conceived as a more or less perfectly coherent system of three successive phase of the entity: pre-individual, individual, trans-individual, partially but not completely corresponding to what the concept of nature individual and spirituality designate. Only the trans-individual is technological? However Simondon allows himself a margin of hesitation and the whole question takes shape here when he specifies that the pre-individual corresponds to nature practically but not completely. In other words this correspondence is uncertain. Now such uncertainty contaminates and fragilises Simondons discourse on magical society, religion, morality and the work of arts at the end of On the Modal Existence and in psychoanalyses in Psychic and Collective Individuation , his last work. The stakes lie in the question of desire. Simondon establishes Freud as the thinker of sexuality, not desire. Now desire is not sexuality, it is not completely sexuality, it is only partially sexuality. Desire is socialized sexuality, that is to say always already trans-individuative while trans-individuation is techno-logical. If desire was nothing but sexuality it would be only drive, sexuality is based in the drive, sexed animals also have a sexuality but it is desire constitutive of the process of psychic and collective individuation as such that binds the drives that is that denatures them and that means that the pre-individual of psychic and collective individuation is not simply or completely the unaccomplished vital realm for vitality, is in fact the deepest level of psychic pre-idnividuality as a drive-based ground. This is true only insofar as vitality so to speak inaccomplishes itself wholly otherwise and not completely that is not itself alone once it becomes technical and inasmuch as it projects itself as social. Technicity is the new word of inaccomplishment that inaccomplishment is intrinsically is all process of individuation precisely qua process. The pre-individual milieus of psychic individuation are originally technical, that is social. In other words there are no simply and completely successive phases of the entity. There is an eternal return of the trans-individual to the pre-individual stage where the trans-individual becomes once again drive-based material and not only instinctual material. Now this circuit is constituted by the technicity of individuation the technological modality of inaccomplishment which is called especially in the 20th century existence and this is what Heidegger glimpsed is what constitutes psycho-social individuation insofar as existence individuate an oversaturated pre individual potential no longer as the becoming and ontogenesis of living species but as a co-individuation of a psychic individual or of social group wherein it individuates itself by provoking a process internal resonance whereby the ensemble of technical elements individuates itself through technical individuals which thus form a technical system that must be analyzed as a process of technical individuation. This technical system individuates itself in turn only in intrinsic relation to psycho-social individuation of which it is the third strand. Individuation consists in resonance which is both internal to the group and internal to the psyche. But the both is possible only insofar as it allows a stabilization of a trans-individuation which presupposes a technicity itself, a support of the stabilization. Now the religious realm is a historical modality of the process of psychic and collective individuation, it is a stage and organizational mode in the history of the psyche and in the history of society which is also a modality of trans-individuation allowing that trans individuations form collective and social individuals just as much as the processes of psyche individuations which without them amount to nothing and which are only transduction. And it is as modality of trans-individuation in its profoundly technical aspect that religion constitutes an epoch of moral consciousness as a psyche which desiring sublimates and superegos.
Because Simondon does not thematize technical individuation in the constitution of psychic and collective individuation, he cannot think religion from out of its technical constitution nor in particular in relation to monotheism it emerges as the religion of the book that is in an essential relationship to those hypomnemanta which are first of all techniques of calculation and on the subject of which Simondon remains silent. The relations between the psychic and the collective constantly transform themselves in the course of the processes of psychic, collective and technical individuations and this transformation that I analyze with the concept of a general organology takes place precisely under the conditions of the evolution of the technical system, the other social systems produced by collective individuation language, education, law, economy etc. And the psychic system produced the psychic apparatuses as Freud says produced by psychic individuation. This is why the thinking of what I call tertiary retentions requires an historical analysis of the process of individuation of the technical system and of the role of what I call epiphylogenitics and starting with the constitution of the city state, the polis, the analysis of hypomnenmata as writing of the self, that is to say as the political modality of psychic individuation always already passing through an exteriority that is through potential making public and as for the case of epistolary exchange in Senekas letters to Lucilius studied by Foukault and actual making public (see Foukault The Writing of the Self). Hypomnesis as writing of the self as well as the constitution of what I have called retentional apparatuses is what supports psychic and collective individuation, anamnesis as selection that is as forgetting in which it consists both as psychogenesis and as sociogenesis which individuates a pre-individual which is intrinsically hypomnesic. This is the question of the trace that Derrida attempt to think with Husserl and others. It becomes necessary at this point to restart the thought of psychic and collective individuation through the technical metastabilization of the trans-individual via the concepts of retentions and protensions in as much as they can become collective by tertiary retentions, I use the Husserls concepts. Individuation is both a temporal and a spatial process. As perception, that is, as temporality inasmuch as the latter perceives the spatial on which it distinguishes figure from ground psychic individuation is what amalgamates primary retentions in Husserls sense which it selects in phenomena on the basis of siftings (criteria of selection) constituted by its individual secondary retentions. These individual secondary retentions constitute horizons of expectations that are also protensions and since there are such retentions Simondon can write that: If there were no tension prior to a potential, perception could not reach the level of segregation of unities which is simultaneously the discovery of the polarity of these unities. This tension is the protension constituted by the encounter of the retention and the perceived which by tensing it transforms it into expectation and into attention. And this is why Simondon can posit that: The unities perceived when a reorientation of a perceptual field can take place with regard to the polarity proper to the object. This transformation, it is individuation itself, plays itself out both on the plane of secondary psychic retentions which produce primary retentions as primary selections and on the plane of collective secondary retentions supporting them with respect to which primary and secondary pretensions, are constituent the latter being collective of psychic themselves. But the mobilization of these secondary retentions which therefore constitute primary retentions as aggregates of remarkable points operates under the condition of tertiary retentions insofar as they are the unity of the psychic and the collective and through which the process of individuation encounters phenomenon whereby it individuates itself. Tertiary retentions are the milieu of psychic and collective individuation. Secondary, retentions constitute the pre-individual milieu of the individual. So mental matter having become memory or rather memory content is the milieu associated with the present I. Memory constitutes the state of the mind or soul of the individual, its current individuation, in the manner in which for Bergson this state, actually a process, snowballs. But the individual can only access the psychic secondary retentions through the occurrences of collective secondary retentions he has inherited and which constitute another pre-individual already there on social base, nothing is memorizable that does not first configure itself in the milieu and out of the pre-individual base constituted by the collective secondary retentions that permit psychic individuation insofar as it is always already collective. Collective secondary retentions as trans-individuative psychic secondary retentions means that tekhne is at the head of the individuation in its most original moments since the stabilization of collective secondary retentions requires tertiary retentions being themselves constitutively prosthetic and which cannot be collective otherwise then as stabilities they are organized inorganic matter whereby the milieu in which psychic and social individuals were themselves are nothing but metastable can stabilize itself since then the double pre-individual structure for the psychic individual (and it is really the end). First, the collective secondary retentions transmitted by inheritance which are not simply the individuals retention but which constitute a non-lived already there and secondly, secondary lived retentions, lived only by but which cannot constitute themselves otherwise then on the non-lived backdrop of collective secondary retentions and which constitute it on pre-individual base, on lived base, its memory milieu. This network of lived secondary retentions on a backdrop of non-lived secondary retentions and presupposing the existence of tertiary retentions constitutes the wrap and the woof of psychic and collective individuation. There is no other way of understanding how psychic individuation can be originally collective then by articulating these levels of the non-lived and lived pre-individuality. But this also implies that psychic individuation is originally technical more than psychic that is to say spiritual or in Greek noetic. Thank you.


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