Exploring the work of Bernard Stiegler

2nd December 2013

News, Student news, Alumni news

Wadham’s Dr Christina Howells is co-editor of a new book comprising a collection of critical essays exploring the work of French philosopher Bernard Stiegler.

  • Christina Howells, Professor of French, Tutor in French, Tutor for Women, Wadham College

Stiegler is a thinker at the forefront of our contemporary concerns with consumerism, technology, inter-generational division, political apathy and economic crisis. His ambitious project is to go beyond these sources of social distress to uncover and examine precisely ‘what makes life worth living’.

Stiegler and Technics (Edinburgh UP, 2013),  edited by Christina Howells and Gerald Moore, who was a French lecturer at Wadham 2009-12, is the first collection of critical essays on Stiegler’s work.

According to Christina: “Gerald and I are interested in recent philosophical attempts to define 'the human' in the twenty first century, in the wake of the deconstruction or decentring of the subject and theories of the post-human. Stiegler takes a very long look at the issue, going back to anthropological research on primitive man on the one hand and to Greek myths of human origins on the other as well as forward to an exploration of contemporary technological advances. He is especially concerned to consider the way the human interacts with what is traditionally viewed as external to it (and which he calls' technics'). For Stiegler we do not pre-exist our relations with tools, with writing, with fire or with other people - we are precisely constituted by these very interactions, and one of the major questions he explores is the extent to which the explosion in technology of the past couple of decades has changed us as human beings, whether in terms of sociology, politics, ethics or indeed, more intimately, the neural pathways in our brains. These are very fundamental questions which Stiegler addresses head on and which our collection of essays aims to explore and explain.”

Made up of seventeen essays, the book covers all aspects of Bernard Stiegler's work, from poststructuralism, anthropology and psychoanalysis to his work on the politics of memory, ‘libidinal economy’, technoscience and aesthetics, keeping a focus on his key theory of technics throughout.

Stiegler brings together key concepts from Plato, Freud, Derrida and Simondon to argue that the human is ‘invented’ through technics rather than a product of purely biological evolution.

The book’s Interdisciplinary approach draws on philosophy and art, anthropology, economics, media studies, cultural studies, politics and sociology, united around Stiegler's key concept of ‘technics’. It is written in a style suitable for students and academics alike.