|Birth||1 April 1952, Villebon-sur-Yvette, France|
Bernard Stiegler ([stiɡlɛʁ]; born 1 April 1952) is a French philosopher. He is head of the Institut de recherche et d'innovation (IRI), which he founded in 2006 at the Centre Georges-Pompidou. He is also the founder in 2005 of the political and cultural group, Ars Industrialis, and the founder in 2010 of the philosophy school, pharmakon.fr, held at Épineuil-le-Fleuriel. His best known work is Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus. He has been called “the most important French theorist to come after Derrida, and one of the most important thinkers anywhere about the effects of digital technology”.
Influences and themes
Stiegler's work is influenced by, among others, Sigmund Freud, André Leroi-Gourhan, Gilbert Simondon, Friedrich Nietzsche, Paul Valéry, Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Karl Marx, Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida.
Key themes are technology, time, individuation, consumerism, consumer capitalism, technological convergence, digitization, Americanization, education and the future of politics and human society.
Between 1978 and 1983 Stiegler was incarcerated for armed robbery, first at the Prison Saint-Michel in Toulouse, and then at the Centre de détention in Muret. It was during this period that he became interested in philosophy, studying it by correspondence with Gérard Granel at the Université de Toulouse-Le-Mirail. His transformation in prison is recounted in his book, Passer à l'acte (2003; the English translation of this work is included in the 2009 volume, Acting Out).
In 1987–88, with Catherine Counot, Stiegler commissioned an exhibition at the Centre Georges-Pompidou, entitled Mémoires du futur: bibliothèques et technologies. Stiegler defended his thesis at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in 1992. He has been a Director at the Collège international de philosophie, and a Professor at the Université de Technologie at Compiègne, as well as a visiting professor at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has held the positions of Director General at the Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA), and Director General at the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM).
On 1 January 2006 he commenced as Director of the Department of Cultural Development at the Centre Georges-Pompidou. He is currently Director of the Institut de recherche et d'innovation (IRI), which was created at his initiative in April 2006. The IRI is affiliated with the Department of Cultural Development.
In 2010, Stiegler opened his own philosophy school in the French town of Épineuil-le-Fleuriel.
Stiegler has been prolifically publishing books, articles and interviews since 1994. His works include several ongoing series of books:
- La technique et le temps (3 vols.). The Technics and Time series outlines the heart of Stiegler's philosophical project, and in particular his theses that the role of technics has been repressed throughout the history of philosophy, and that technics, as organised inorganic matter, and as essentially a form of memory, is constitutive of human temporality. The series contains extensive readings of the works of André Leroi-Gourhan, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, and Immanuel Kant. It also contains his explication of the "cinematic constitution of consciousness," as well as his thesis that human beings are essentially "adoptive" and "prosthetic" creatures. Stiegler has at times mentioned further volumes of this series, but these have yet to appear. All three extant volumes have been published in English translation by Stanford University Press.
- De la misère symbolique (2 vols.). This series is concerned in particular with the ways in which cultural, symbolic and informational technologies have become a means of industrialising the formation of desire in the service of production, with destructive consequences for psychic and collective individuation. Stiegler outlines his concepts of "general organology" (a way of thinking the co-individuation of human organs, technical organs, and social organisations) and "genealogy of the sensible" (a way of thinking the historicity of human desire and aesthetics). It contains extensive readings of Sigmund Freud and Gilles Deleuze, as well as of the works of Alain Resnais, Bertrand Bonello, Andy Warhol, and Joseph Beuys. Both volumes have been published in English translation.
- Mécréance et Discrédit (3 vols.). The Disbelief and Discredit series is concerned with the way in which the industrial organisation of production and then consumption has had destructive consequences for the modes of life of human beings, in particular with the way in which the loss of savoir-faire and savoir-vivre (that is, the loss of the knowledge of how to do and how to live), has resulted in what Stiegler calls "generalised proletarianisation." In this series Stiegler makes clear his view that, in the light of the present state of the global technical system, it is not a matter of overcoming capitalism but rather of transforming its industrial basis to prevent the loss of spirit from which it increasingly suffers. In the second volume Stiegler introduces the concept of the "Antigone complex," to describe the psychosocial effects of the destruction of authority—that is, the destruction of the superego—on politics and youth. The series contains extensive readings of Paul Valéry, Max Weber, Aristotle, and Herbert Marcuse, as well as analyses of the crisis of May 1968 and the crime of Patricia and Emmanuel Cartier. The first volume was published in English translation by Polity Press in 2011, the second in 2012 and the third in 2014.
- Constituer l'Europe (2 vols.). In this series Stiegler is concerned with the effects of the destruction of psychic and collective individuation on Europe. He argues for the necessity of inaugurating a new individuation process at the continental level, itself embedded in an individuation process operating at a global level. At stake, he says, is the creation of a new European "motive" which will enable the reinvention of industrial civilisation.
On 18 June 2005 Stiegler founded a political and cultural group, Ars Industrialis, the manifesto of which calls for an "industrial politics of spirit." The manifesto was signed by Stiegler and the other co-founders of the group, George Collins, Marc Crépon, Catherine Perret and Caroline Stiegler. An updated manifesto was released in 2010.
On 18 September 2010 Stiegler opened his own philosophy school (called pharmakon.fr) in the small French town of Épineuil-le-Fleuriel, in the department of Cher. The school runs a course for lycée students in the region, a doctoral program conducted by videoconference, and a summer academy that involves both groups of students as well as interested inhabitants from the surrounding area. The context and themes of the school lie in Stiegler's argument that we are entering a period of post-consumerism and post-globalization. At a philosophical level, the school is engaged in research, critique and analysis in line with Stiegler's pharmacological approach.
Cinema and television
Stiegler features prominently in a number of works of film and television, and has appeared on French television numerous times. Among his most significant appearances are the following:
- The Ister (2004), directed by Daniel Ross and David Barison, a feature documentary about Heidegger in which Stiegler plays an important part.
- An Organization of Dreams (2009), directed by Ken McMullen, an experimental thriller inspired by Stiegler's work, and in which he appears.
- Le temps de cerveau disponible (2010), directed by Jean-Robert Viallet, a documentary about television in which Stiegler is the main participant.
- Après la gauche (2011), directed by Jeremy Forny, a documentary about the problems of the political Left, featuring Stiegler.
Stiegler's daughter Barbara (born 1971) is also a philosopher. She attended the École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay-St-Cloud, and in 2003 obtained her doctorate from the University of Paris IV: Paris-Sorbonne. Barbara Stiegler is the author of Nietzsche et la biologie (2001) and Nietzsche et la critique de la chair: Dionysos, Ariane, le Christ (2005). She is not to be confused with the German sociologist of the same name.
- Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (2016)