Bernard Stiegler and the Demon of Technique

Bernard Stiegler has passed on a few days ago. He was, undoubtedly, one of the few leading philosophers who did not fight against technique. Indeed, he suggested to consider technique, an inner aspect of human experience, as a part of the episteme. He lived an intense and adventurous life. Initially, his life was composed of robberies and prison that had brought him closer to a common feeling, which had been refused by philosophers and intellectuals. Generally, philosophers (including Marx, Nietzsche, Heidegger), together with most intellectuals, eluded to technology being among man’s worst evils, often hoping for a return to nature, its principles and its dynamics.

But why the widespread reluctance towards technological innovations? I think it is because of three reasons: 1) the natural conservative tendency of human beings, who feel scared of their own existence. They usually take much time before accepting any kinds of innovation; 2) the powerful who fear of losing their power, especially over the periods which are signed by a democratic political ideas; 3) culture’s lack of availability to questioning itself, being done that the socio-economic-cultural revolutions are the result of technology’s advancement.

The first two of those reasons mentioned above (which deal with sociological and political affairs) are less difficult. Actually, today’s socio-political dynamics tend to quickly keep away any obstacles related to innovative techniques. The hardest resistance refers to cultural terrain affecting even politics itself, which, consequently does not invest in innovation. Furthermore, this cultural resistance is often tied to the fear for the unknown, the imponderable as well as for the unpredictable. In addition, intellectuals tend to cultivate certainty often by relying on ancient philosophers and historians who normally have been against technological superstructure, and had considered it far beyond from human nature. Independently on this, we should underline that technology is perhaps the best product of human intelligence.  It is even able to make mankind growth better towards a real progress, which includes our species’ cosmic projections.

Nevertheless, cultural resistance keeps itself strong. Stiegler himself, at a certain point, did distinguish between a positive and a negative technique. He ended with criticizing the web economy, and also considering that the current technology wouldn’t be able to modify the irreversible entropy to which human civilization would be destined for. And this, unlikely the energetic balance that would characterize the natural organization of living beings. Stiegler, even though he had assumed Heidegger’s sentence “technology is the new reality of being”, didn’t succeed in changing his profound nature as an intellectual.