An Early Post: Questions, Considerations, Etc.

Considering that I failed to post on last week’s assigned reading, and the numerous difficulties posed by Stiegler’s text, it seems entirely necessary that I post at least twice this week.  Hence, as a rather early prequal, I will attempt to work through the various issues that Stiegler’s text addresses in relationship to technocracy, technostructure, and technoscience.

For the purposes of this post, I break Stiegler’s argument, as I have interpreted it, into two digestible categories:

First, it seems that from very early on in the text, Stiegler is attempting to address the means by which the economic and social are tied to the technical system.  Although this seems quite a basic point, it begins to extend to the various ways in which the technostructure or the technocracy (presumably, the state system surrounding technical innovation), intervenes on the part of technical development.  This, though, becomes more complicated in consideration of the second point.

Second, and perhaps of more interest, is Stiegler’s recurring attempts to free the technical from the cultural, the ethnic, or the regional.  Here, it seems that Stiegler is both interested and invested in revising theories which attempt to substantiate a  supreme cultural or individual force.  These theories posit that a culture or individual are responsible for technical development or innovation.  The roots of this argument can be found in the preliminary discussion of the logic of invention.  Stiegler posits that when considering technical systems one should approach developments from the perspective of the “logic of invention” as opposed to the “logic of the inventor” (33).  For Stiegler, it is not as though the logic of the inventor is nonexistant.  Rather, he suggests that the forces that provide impetus are much too diffused for a particular locality or person to be considered.  This, of course, leads him to the premise of a universal technoscience; a technoscience which is inextricably bound to the social and economic. 

Though I think there is room for reading this part of the text otherwise, an issue I will discuss further, I find Stiegler’s argument to be quite a provocative revision of predominant mainstream attitudes concerning technical innovation.  It seems, as I reexamine parts of Stiegler’s text that there exists room for critique, contradiction, and, perhaps, misunderstanding.  First, it should be noted, that I do not think Stiegler is really trying to discredit the contributions of various individuals.  Instead, it seems that while he acknowledges certain individual advances, he is attempting to move beyond the limitations of individual or culture centered theory.  Here, Stiegler is addressing the means by which the economic or the social, an element that might generally be overlooked, advances or inhibits development:

Thus, the practice of preserving outlived techniques for economic reasons is commonplace–and only one example of the problem of adequacy between the evolutional tendencies of Technics and economic-political constraints (32)

Here, not only is Stiegler calling the economic, the political, and the social into consideration, he is positing a universal evolutional tendency; he is both suggesting that all are inextricably bound, and considering each movement as one greater relationship of evolution.  Furthermore, by positing that these are inextricably related, he is calling into question the issue of control.  Here, Stiegler posits a universal instead of a culturally or individually specific in order to question issues of technical control quite differently, for it can be seen that the issue of control differs from individual contexts to contexts of more complicated social, economic, and technical relationship. 

At a rhythm of constant innovation, unknown factors are no longer possible; the mvoement must be controlled at the risk of collapsing the global coherence whereby the systems operate complementarily: at stake is the organization of the future, that is, of time (42 – emphasis mine)

Though I believe I understand the global versus the individual, and the call for control, I am still curious as to the reasons that might necessitate the need for control.  First, who would be responsible?  If the system is as convoluted and complicated as Stiegler defines it, then would it not be almost impossible to exert any means of control on a basic individual or state level.  Though one state or technocracy might intervene, wouldn’t this be a rather insignificant measure in consideration of the global schema?  Second, why is control necessary?  Admittedly, I have much more reading and re-reading to to, but I am stil confused concerning the primary issue of time, and the necessity for control.  Though Stiegler’s argument seems to be predicated against spontaneity, as he asserts the influence of various mechanisms, I can not help feeling that an element of spontaneity, which seems a necessity of invention, might still resist control. 

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One Response to “An Early Post: Questions, Considerations, Etc.”

  1. Pruchnic Says:

    More on time (“to-come”) on Tuesday; but for now it might be best to think through Stiegler’s interest in the this valence of control in reference to Deleuze’s use of the same term (and, importantly, of “cybernetics” and “communication”) to make a distinction with Foucauldian “discipline” in the *Negotiations* essays published shortly before his death. The kind of “control” Stiegler talks about here is not the lockstep influence over the kinds of practices (and categories of individuals and systems) that might be made “possible” or “impossible” within a societal structure (as in discipline). Rather, “control” here names a purely instrumental or “conceptual” (rather than particular or practical) force that forms the conditions of possibility for systematic integration of moments of spontaneity or difference; i.e., the “control” of “technosociety” is not a series of structures that rigidly dictate what may take place, but rather a force field that actively and flexibly responds to these outbreaks in a way that continues the maintenance (and evolution) of the present system. Thus, in a sense then, the system “itself” is premised on spontaneity and invention as its driving force, rather than being “vulnerable” to such instances as acts or forces of resistance.

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