AUDIO: Philosophers’ Anthropologies: Stiegler after Heidegger and Derrida
Duration: 1 hour 31 mins 16 secs
March 15, 2012 – Cambridge University
In this lecture Dr. Michael Lewis talks about Stiegler’s relationship to Heidegger and Derrida in relation to ‘philosophical anthropology’.
Michael Lewis is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of the West of England, Bristol, United Kingdom. Among his recent publications are: Phenomenology: An Introduction (2010), Derrida and Lacan: Another Writing (2008), Heidegger Beyond Deconstruction: On Nature (2007), and Heidegger and the Place of Ethics: Being-with in the Crossing of Heidegger’s Thought (2005).
Bernard Stiegler is a French philosopher at Goldsmiths, University of London and at the Université de Technologie de Compiègne. In addition, he is Director of the Institut de recherche et d’innovation (IRI), founder in 2005 of the political and cultural group, Ars Industrialis, and founder in 2010 of the philosophy school, Ecole de Philosophie d’Epineuil-le-Fleuriel. His best known work is Technics and Time.
I really enjoyed this lecture although it seemed a bit of a patchwork of comments about each thinker. I enjoyed the Q&A afterward as well because the audience pushed Lewis on the issue of human exception from “animals”. I think there is room for a view that acknowledges the unique properties of humans while maintaining our sense of being deeply natural and decidedly animal.
indeed, this was pretty much my reaction to the DUST interview of Shaviro and a tension that I have raised with comrades like andreling, arknowledge-ecologies and jtstruggleforever over flat-ontologies/democracies/cosmopolitics, exactly how do these differences that make differences play out in various settings/assemblages seem to be central to the experimental/experiential tasks at hand.
I tend to think we should actually slow it down and try to work through some of these ideas we are posting by linking them with case studies and getting into some real detail. Do you know of any case studies we can start with?
On the issue of flat ontologies I think it is important to note that ‘flatness’ there signifies that there is no ontological difference between beings, because Being is the same for all of entities (‘all things are equally real’). There is no disputing that there are ontic differences between entities at multiple scales. But let us not confuse the two. At least this is the argument.
Terence Blake suggests, “the separation between scientific (ontic) categories and transcendental (ontological) principles is a necessary demarcation, needed to counter scientism, which conflates them into a simple identity.”
I, however, am increasing skeptical about this type of language. For me ontology is at best an abstraction concerned with mapping the Real. The ontological is what we generalize about with regard to the ontic. Heidegger helped us pay attention to the clearing accompanying our being-ness, or more specifically our being-with, by making a distinction between ontological and the ontic, but that only takes us so far (as a reminder to pay attention). The ontic is what is. And as such every difference makes a difference.
This is also why ‘materialism’ is such a hard language game to pull off: there is no such thing as ‘matter’ beyond what actually exists is particular. Tim Morton reminds us of this. But using materialist language I think helps us stay attuned to the tangibility and elemental composition of things in a way that more abstract metaphysical discourses like OOO seem to ignore or at least deemphasize (the conflation Blake notes above may just worksthe other as way as well). I identify as a materialist because I always what to keep a close ontographic eye on how specific matter-energy flows generate particular assemblages. The incorporation of materialist language makes it hard to forget the history of elements and how they ‘work’, and so keep us scientifically honest.
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