From prison to philosophy

Contemporary French philosopher Bernard Stiegler died on August 6, 2020 in the Épineuil-le-Fleuriel region of France, aged 68 (1952-2020). He was considered one of the clay of self-made and rebellious philosophers, as contrary to the model of an isolated thinker, he always needed a kind of “impriation” in danger of suffering, given his extreme temperament and emotion.

The birth of the struggling philosopher from the womb of suffering


His principle in life was that it was the true philosopher who “faces the reality he lives,” and since the reality of today is the tightening of the technological industrial dimension, as he used to say, he paid attention to the dire effects of the phenomenon of “industry and technology” on humanity in the contemporary period. This form of direct interest in society has marked his life since leaving classes in 1968.He then went to student protest barricades in the Latin Quarter of Guy-Lucak Street, May 1968. There he saw how policemen allowed for confrontations and violent repression of college students. This suspicion of a capitalist conspiracy led him to the Communist Party, which he later left, specifically in 1976, rejecting the Stalinist trend imposed by politician Georges Marchais.


Meanwhile, he was immersed in the “working class culture” to which his family belonged, where his father was an engineer on French television and his mother was a bank employee, and in his view it was part of the class struggle, where the proletariat was in confrontation with the bourgeoisie. Then, discover reading, music, and art history. “It was General de Gaulle’s television that introduced me to Aschylus and the Greek tragedy when I was 12,” and only then could one “be poor and educated” at the same time.


After the events of 1968, Brnard Stigler did many works: he was a simple worker, then an office worker, a shopping clerk at an architectural firm, and then an agricultural worker, and then ran a farm in Lot-et-Garonne for two years until the Great Drought occurred. In 1976 he put an end to this return to the peasantry of the land.


But his finances soon encountered problems, as overnight, he was no longer entitled to any overdraft from his bank because of Barre’s plan, and his banking agency refused to pay his own savings. At this point he used alcohol, and soon thought about robbing the bank. “I went to rob a bank to make up for my overdraft,” says Bernard Stigler. And it worked.” “Things went really well I tasted it and stole three other agencies” and always alone. He was more efficient at it, and he didn’t need anyone involved.


Brnard Stigler carried out the fourth deadly armed robbery; a police patrol arrested him in flagrante delicto. Sentenced to several bank robberies, he was sentenced to five years in prison in 1978. The prison experience was a new turning point in his life, without prison he would have been in a really bad position. His pretrial detention began and took three years, and then somewhat improved thanks to the intervention of his friend, the philosopher Girard Granel, who received exceptional permission from the investigating judge to send him books.


Since Bernanard Stigler did not give in to sharing his cell with another prisoner, he went on hunger strike for three weeks, until he received his demand to be alone in a private cell. The conditions for easing and isolation in the heightened security zone were fruitful, as he began to “dour books” and read them with great eagerness. He attended the University of Toulouse and passed the entrance exam due to lack of baccalaureate. By pursuing his philosophical studies, he tried the teaching profession, prompting him to help inmates preparing to pass the baccalaureate within the walls of the prison institution.



Jack Derrida’s meeting and the beginning of the philosophical path


Once released from prison, he went to Blanjak Airport, landed at Orly Airport, and headed straight to Ulm Street where she is to high school, and that symbolic place was his intellectual turning point. There he met the famous French philosopher Jacques Derrida, after writing to him on the advice of Gerard Granelle, and Derrida responded to him immediately a week later. That same year, in 1983, the le Collège international de philosophie was created by Jean-Pierre Chevènement under the direction of Jacques Derrida. Bernard Stigler started there, holding a bimonthly art seminar there in 1984.


He was noticed thanks to this platform, and from his employment as a researcher at the French Ministry of Research, before working at the exhibition “Mémoire du futur” in 1988, specifically at the Pompidou Center. It was the UTC University of Technology that awarded him the professorship, but he might get the impression of coming out of it. Afterwards, Bernard Stigler became a renowned thinker thanks to his critical perceptions of neoliberalism in the media and economics. He did not deny his past actions, either in his burglary of the bank, or at the National Library of Paris, where he has been digitizing writing since 1989.


He then served as Deputy Director General of the National Audiovisual Institute (INA) from 1996 to 1999, and was passionate about indexing the image with its content, before taking the direction of the Institute for Research and Audio-Musical Coordination (IRCAM) in 2002. He was appointed in 2006 to the Center Georges-Pompidou for the Development of Interactive Technologies and Contemporary Art.


This institute was specifically designed to be an observatory and laboratory for the development of new cultural and cognitive practices and techniques, in the context of the current digital revolution. Since then, Bernerhard Stigler has been keen to stand up to television culture, especially TF1, whose CEO Patrick Le Lai was notorious for “generating minds.” Stigler continued to develop his willingness to revolt against idiots whose political justification was lost to him; perhaps here was his surprise when the right-wing government appointed him to the post.


When he found any competition, he stopped striving and diligently, starting his day in his bathroom by throwing a digital voice recording himself in it, and then listening to him when he goes to UTC in his car to present his weekly “basic” philosophy seminar; while on Saturday and Sunday morning he turns his initial records and blogs into articles and books.


In the summer, he stays at his home on the island of Corsica to devote himself to writing; thus, four books were published in 2005, and in fact, since 2004 he has been writing passionately as well. His wife, Caroline Stigler, gave up her legal career to devote herself to copying his recordings, and then collaborating with him on his research. His thought focused on the implications of contemporary technological development on human culture, and on the challenges of current changes—social, political, economic, and psychological—induced by technological development, especially current digital technologies and their impact on human thought and culture.


With three philosopher friends: George Collins, Mark Crépon, and Catherine Perret (Georges Collins, Marc Crépon et Catherine Perret), Brenard Stigler created a website called Ars Industrialis, known as “for an international association pour une politique industrielle des technologies de l’esprit). He was appointed for three years as a member of the National Digital Council (CNN) in January 2013, then became a member of the Steering and Future Committee of the Vies Mobiles Forum, a think tank (SNCF).


Since April 2013, Bernaard Stigler has been a member of the Scientific Board of the B2V Memory Observatory, a laboratory involved in studying and enhancing knowledge about memory performance. It aims to deepen understanding of memory in all its forms. It specifically treats individual memory, digital memory, and group memory as well as company memory as an “intangible trin” that affects many human, environmental, and economic factors. From preserving memory, to increasing its capacity through the prevention of memory disorders, its multiple approach allows for increased research and discovery.


The project and the critical philosophical orientation of technology


Bernard Stigler’s intellectual orientation is based on critique of technology as a completeness of Western metaphysics.For this critical direction, this philosopher returns to analyzing how Greek philosophy arose through estrangement with technology as a practical practice. He evaluates his hypothesis in the study of this problem on the grounds that by banishing the so-called simple outward appearance of all that is technical, philosophy creates this inner part formed by thought, that is, this whole body of knowledge that defines it.


Based on this hypothesis, the latter understands how Greek philosophy was expressed by distinguishing itself from what Plato calls “Tikhni,” from which the Sophystians were inspired by their elusive methods. This outside was supposed not to contribute to the full knowledge of the inside, so it has no place except as an auxiliary element only. A philosopher may benefit from technology (writing, for example), but technology is not supposed to be involved in the formation of philosophical truth.


Thus, technology does not contain anything original or authentic, but it always remains derived from an asset; therefore, it is merely the assumption of origin (complete life and knowledge). Every “thought” in technology necessarily transcends the boundaries of philosophy; therefore, a technical “thinking” approach can only touch the edges of thought, and can only jeopardize philosophical schemes.


According to this philosophical perspective crystallizing by Brenard Stigler, technology must be understood as an anthropological component, and on this basis it is a “antote” (Pharmakon), which may work and may harm at the same time. Therefore, technity is originally involved in human formation (hominization). That is why man only possesses substance by accident.


Man is this organism that has only qualities, especially in the original addition of modern syntheticism, and here its essence is artifacts. Its nature is originally secondary and imperfect; which is why Bernard Stigler associates technical thought with the original flaw illustrated by the myth of Prometheus, that is, “the person who meditates after the truth.” If man’s essence (his destination and ends) is “artificial,” it is always the subject of debate, debate, and even war: where people can only argue about their qualities. The artistic nature of man contains the dangers of conflict always, whether friendly or aggressive; this danger does not end.


This is how contemporary technical tendency has fabricated the political nature of man: technology is the question of man’s essence ( ends, purpose, origin: philosophical questions), as well as the political question (how do we live together?). BERNARD STIGLER WAS ONE OF THE RARE FRENCH PHILOSOPHERS (ALTERN WITH BRUNO LATOUR AND DOMINIC BORG) TO DEAL DIRECTLY WITH THE ENVIRONMENTAL EMERGENCY AND THE RISKS OF THE COLLAPSE OF THE CURRENT INDUSTRIAL CIVILIZATION.


According to this philosopher, current climate changes need to be confronted in real and real time, and it is necessary to establish intergenerational links and corridors between knowledge in order to work against the state of energy dissipation (anthropy). This energy dissipation has led to a state of systemic collapse, perhaps a measure of how much the energies of society as a whole have deteriorated and dissipated, as a technical tendency has led to global warming, and news inflation caused by logarithms and big data faces the risk of collapse associated with the encroachment of ultraliberalism, and the exploitation and destruction of this world, which Bath operates according to the true “shock doctrine.”



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