Enchantment, disenchantment, re-enchantment: toward a critical politics of re-individuation

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Autumn 2012
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Since the creation of Ars Industrialis in 2005, Bernard Stiegler has increasingly turned his focus toward the more directly political aspects of critical theory. While in his great, five-volume Technics and Time Stiegler concentrated on a radical reassessment of the role of technics in a post-phenomenological world, it has become impossible for him to avoid the contemporary implications of a history-less (and therefore uncritical) culture, the arrival of a hyper-technical age in which not only the very idea of history, but of the cultural values historicity provides, have been occluded. Stiegler’s publications since 2005 have been preoccupied with this occlusion; his two most dynamic recent publications, Réenchanter le monde (2006) and Prendre soin (1) de la jeunesse et les générations (2008) are aimed directly at it.1 In these two works Stiegler lays out a politics of critique, not merely returning to an Enlightenment idea of critical rationality but accepting the current technological world for what it is and re-introducing the possibility of an anamnesis, a non-forgetting of the vital importance of critical engagement to any sustainable cultural environment. In so doing, Stiegler examines what he calls the ‘telecracy,’ agri-business, and the ‘culture industry,’ as well as the political process itself, showing how a new sense of ‘grammatisation’ can be employed to pull culture back from the brink of disintegration. My contribution will consist of translations of two sections of Réenchanter le monde, ‘Grammatisation and Individuation Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow’ and ‘The Risk of Disindividuation as the Increase of Ignorance Rather Than Knowledge’, making extensive critical commentary on Stiegler’s project -‘re-enchanting’ the world requires new vigour, commitment, and critical literacy; I will compare the crisis of individuation Stiegler lays out as his ‘next step’ in the process of ‘re-enchantment’, in Taking Care (1) of Youth and the Generations (which I have translated for Stanford University Press). In Réenchanter le monde Stiegler uses Gilbert Simondon’s transduction and individuation, as well as his own Technics and Time, as critical frames; in Taking Care he shows how the urgent need for change is part of a larger discourse originating in the Kantian Enlightenment but being very much of our time. I will tie Stiegler’s approaches in these two works together to show how he and Ars Industrialis are forging a critical politics vital to the twenty-first century.

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NF 77 Bernard Stiegler: Technics, Politics, Individuation