Archive for the 746 Category

Australopithecus Afarens-who?

Posted in 746, DR, stiegler on March 24, 2008 by untimelymediations

Well, for your reading pleasure (possibly plezure?), I post a second time this week.  Unfortunately, I haven’t quite finished the text.  Despite this impediment, I am quite satisfied with the progress that has been made thus far. 

First, it seems necessary to consider the rather insightful comment I received in relationship to my first post this week (Thanks Jeff for the clarification).  I guess, in many ways, I was a little misguided concerning Stiegler’s conception of control and the issue of control as it relates to technocracy and invention.  Perhaps, I still am.  Considering that I initially missed the mark, I post again, in part, to revise certain grievous errors.  If technocracy, or the power of the state in relationship to technical systems, is enforced or bolstered by means of invention, as is diametrically opposed to the model as I original understood it, this raises several concerns.  First, I still question whether technocracy is a force that one must work against.  If invention is to be applauded, as I suppose it is in certain contexts, does this not suggest that the technocracy, as it is fueled by invention or spontaneity, must also be supported?  Second, if the technocracy is problematic, what is the most effective means of combating such a system?  Is there a means of responding to this issue, if it is considered as such?  Though, I must mention in brief, that this becomes even more complicated in light of the third issue I address.  I guess, the problem that I run into is in many ways the same problem that one experiences concerning capitalism.  Quite simply, there seems to be very little means of deviating effectively.  Though, I must admit, this seems quite a different scenario, I still can not help considering it in regard to Jeff’s use of Foucault and Deleuze as an explanatory system.  Perhaps, as Jeff has suggested before, the best way of considering this entire scenario, is similar to the way that one might best consider Capitalism.  If it is ineffective to respond typically, then why not consider using such a system for its inherent benefits.  Again, as we discussed in relationship to the Sophists, we might draw on something similar to a certain selfishness to forward selfless agendas.  I’m not quite sure how this would pan out in relationship to invention and the technocracy.

Second, I turn to a latter portion of the text in order to propose some possible parallels to Leroi-Gourhan.  I think a point of similarity between the two, even though I haven’t yet read Gourhan, is the issue of exteriorization.  From what I understood of the discussion last week, Gourhan proposes that in many ways our evolution has halted, or has slowed down.  In effect, we have exteriorized our very human capacity for development or progress.  We exteriorize it in the form of the technical progress that we have made.  This holds especially true in relationship to human memory (and, as is perhaps suggested later, the memory of the animal as well).  In the section entitled “Skeleton, Equipment, and the Brain,” it seems that both Gourhan and Stiegler’s texts converge on this matter.  Stiegler is quick to reference a similar dependence on the exteriorized body; the technical extension of the body:

With the advent of exteriorization, the body of the living individual is no longer a body: it can only function with its tools.  An understanding of the archaic anthropological system will only become possible with the simultaneous examination of the skeleton, the central nervous system, and equipment (148)

Directly aftertwards, Stiegler suggests that this set of hypotheses retraces the possibility of passage between three stages of archaic humanity.  Both the argument and the framework of the argument are provocative revisions.  Stiegler effectively provides a revision of the very history of the body.  In his consideration of the anthropology of human development, Stiegler inserts the technical system.  He places the human on a type of continuum where the technical becomes extremely relevant, in effect, proposing a revision of human developmental understanding.  As is noted in the following, the technical is intimately connected to the very biology of the human, and thus, is necessary to a newly invisioned anthropology; a techno-logy

As Stiegler’s argument continues, it takes on new significance.  Although earlier I stated that Stiegler references a certain dependence on the exteriorized body, it seems that the term dependence needs to be considered more carefully.  What Stiegler is proposing is an infinite dependence on the technical, specifically “technical consciousness,” as a means of overcoming the very limitations of the biological.  Basically, Stiegler equates “technical consciousness” with anticipation.  It is anticipation which is the deciding factor in human evolution: “Anticipation means the realization of a possibility that is not determined by a biological program” (151).  Yet, despite the technical as a means of development, Stiegler still maintains that the technical must be considered under a zoological framework, for the technical is still determined by, “the neurophysiological chracteristics of the individual.”

Third, this brings us to Stiegler’s argument, as he references Leroi-Gourhan, against the common theoretical disposition to provide a means of differentiating between man and animal.  Perhaps, in a way, this brings us back to the numerous distinctions that we discussed previously this semester, such as the theory that our ability to decide whether we are man or animal is the very means of differentiating humans from animals.  In what appears to be another congruency between the two texts, Stiegler suggests that the dynamism of technical objects is collapsed onto the cortex.  Thus, the distinction between man and animal becomes a little more grey (grey matter that is).  Yet, at the same time, this seems kind of contradictory.  What does it mean to develop outside of the limitations of the biological, if these developments, in the form of the technical, are still intimately tied to certain biological capacities, such as consciousness as defined by the cortext?

All together, the techno-logical, as opposed to the anthropological, is concerned with what unites humans and the technical systems that they are surrounded with.  Though I don’t claim to have a very good understanding of Heidegger, the issue of the “supreme danger” of technology comes to mind.  For Heidegger, the danger that exists in relationship to the technical is not the technical itself, but the means by which the human interacts with the technical.  The greatest danger for Heidegger is that technology becoms determinant of truth, as opposed to humans becoming cognizant of concealed truth.  If I understand this correctly, it seems that Stiegler and Heidegger are divergent on this point.  For Stiegler it seems that the technical frees us from the bounds of the biological, whereas for Heidegger it seems that the technical imprisons the body as a resource; as a form of human stockpile (Matrix what?).

For now, though, I can’t wait until we have the technological capability of inseminating robots.  I can only imagine the sexual positions that will have to be added to the lexicon.  This would be an opportune time to reconsider Stiegler’s text.  Perhaps, though, something similar is already happening with artificial insemination.