Bernard Stiegler: Decadence of Industrial Democracies: Disbelief and Discredit, Vol. 1 (2004/2011)

9 November 2012, dusan

Bernard Stiegler is one of the most original philosophers writing today about new technologies and their implications for social, political and personal life. Drawing on sources ranging from Plato and Marx to Freud, Heidegger and Derrida, he develops a highly original account of technology as grammatology, as a technics of writing that constitutes our experience of time, memory and desire, even of life itself. Society and our place within it are shaped by technical reproduction which can both expand and restrict the horizons and possibilities of human agency and experience.

In the three volumes of Disbelief and Discredit Stiegler argues that this process of technical reproduction has become dangerously divorced from its role in the constitution of human experience. Radically challenging the optimistic view of new technologies as facilitators of learning and progress, he argues new marketing techniques short-circuit thought and disenfranchise consumers, programming them to seek short-term gratification. These practices of ‘libidinal economics’ have profound consequences for nature of human desire and they underpin the social and psychological malaise of contemporary industrial society.

In this opening volume Stiegler argues that the industrial model implemented since the beginning of the twentieth century has become obsolete, leading capitalist democracies to an impasse. A sign of this impasse and of the decadence to which it leads is the banalization of consumers who become ensnared in a perpetual cycle of consumption. This is the new proletarianization of the technologically infused, hyper-industrial capitalism of today. It produces a society cut off from its past and its future, stultifying human development and turning democracy into a farce in which disbelief and discredit inevitably arise.

First published in French as Mécréance et Discrédit: Tome 1, La décadence des démocraties industrielles, Editions Galilée, 2004
Translated by Daniel Ross and Suzanne Arnold
Publisher Polity, 2011
ISBN 0745648096, 9780745648095
200 pages

review (Tom Bunyard, Radical Philosophy)

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Alain Badiou: Deleuze: The Clamor of Being (1997–)

18 December 2010, dusan

“A major new voice from France offers a provocative reevaluation of Deleuze’s philosophy.

The works of Gilles Deleuze–on cinema, literature, painting, and philosophy–have made him one of the most widely read thinkers of his generation. This compact critical volume is not only a powerful reappraisal of Deleuze’s thought, but also the first major work by Alain Badiou available in English. Badiou compellingly redefines “Deleuzian,” throwing down the gauntlet in the battle over the very meaning of Deleuze’s legacy.

For those who view Deleuze as the apostle of desire, flux, and multiplicity, Badiou’s book is a deliberate provocation. Through a deep philosophical engagement with his writings, Badiou contends that Deleuze is not the Dionysian thinker of becoming he took himself to be; on the contrary, he is an ascetic philosopher of Being and Oneness. Deleuze’s self-declared anti-Platonism fails–and that, in Badiou’s view, may ultimately be to his credit. “Perhaps it is not Platonism that has to be overturned,” Badiou writes, “but the anti-Platonism taken as evident throughout this entire century.”

This volume draws on a five-year correspondence undertaken by Badiou and Deleuze near the end of Deleuze’s life, when the two put aside long-standing political and philosophical differences to exchange ideas about similar problems in their work. Badiou’s incomparably attentive readings of key Deleuzian concepts radically revise reigning interpretations, offering new insights to even the veteran Deleuze reader and serving as an entrée to the controversial notion of a “restoration” of Plato advocated by Badiou—in his own right one of the most original figures in postwar French philosophy.

The result is a critical tour de force that repositions Deleuze, one of the most important thinkers of our time, and introduces Badiou to English-speaking readers.”

First published as Deleuze: la clameur de l’être, Hachette, Paris, 1997.

Publisher University of Minnesota Press, 2000
Theory Out of Bounds series, 16
ISBN 0816631409, 9780816631407
143 pages

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