Technics & Time 4

This is the latest book by Bernard Stiegler, one of the (or the) most important philosopher of the 21st century so far. It has been posthumously released and is freely available as a pdf. In short, how are we conceive of the Anthropocene in the post-truth era?

If ever there is a time to pull our resources and meditate on our current human condition, it is now. But if ever there is a time that it has been most difficult to slow down, reflect, and meditate, it is also now. Although it is impossible to do justice to this in a few sentences – Bernard Stiegler has studied the relationship between humanity and technology, and has described human beings as technical beings. Often, it is said that the climate crisis is anthropogenic – caused or accelerated by humans. True, but only insofar we include our technology in ‘anthropo-‘ – unlike the cows we industrially ‘produce’, our farts do not significantly contribute to global warming. It is not our biological but technological presence. Next to our genetics (DNA) and epigenetics (nervous system, phenotype), our ‘epiphylogenetics’ (our prostheses, extensions) are part of our being.

Stiegler points out that this technological presence is not only affecting the climate, but also our thought – think about it, even writing is a technology (and the clothes we wear, the buildings we live in). And that currently, we are in a crisis that simultaneously engenders a steep incline in entropy (hence the Entropocene) and a steep decline in our ability to connect and reflect (which Dominic Pettman has brilliantly described in Peak Libido: “as the climate warms, our libido cools”).

And Stiegler started to conceive of the possibility of a reversal of the Entropocene, using Schrödinger’s (the one of the cat) idea of negentropy as negative entropy in the Anthropocene – hence his term the Neganthropocene. Against this backdrop, Stiegler, who by the way became a philosopher in prison after he had robbed a bank – has written Technics and Time 4, the goal of which he expresses as follows:

“This is what we will attempt to meditate upon here, in an emergency whose urgency means that it precisely excludes meditation – an aporetic meditation that must nevertheless be practical, and even experiential, constituted by an experience of quasi-causality, that is, of the event: an experience of our time as an absence of time, which is not only the absence of epoch as the loss of all collective secondary protentions, but the absolute state of emergency of a developing panic. We will attempt this impossible meditation on the impossible – which cannot be a simple meditation – by reconsidering the function of truth in care, and the function of care in a biosphere that has become an Entropocene.”