association internationale pour une politique industrielle des technologies de l'esprit
Translated by Robert Hughes, Ohio State University
Technics of the self
Technologies of the Mind and Spirit
Subsist, Exist, Consist
Anamnēsis, hypomnēsis (Memory)
In ancient Greece, the term pharmakon designated at once the poison, the cure, and the scapegoat.1
All technical objects are pharmacological, at once poison and cure. The pharmakon is both what permits care-taking and what requires one to take care, in the sense that one must pay attention. It has medicinal power to the extent that it is (and also isn’t) a destructive power. This is what characterizes pharmacology as it tries to grasp, in the same gesture, both what endangers and what saves. All technics is originarily and irreducibly ambivalent: alphabetical writing, for example, has been and still can be just as much an instrument of emancipation as of alienation. If, to take another example, the internet can be described as pharmacological, this is because it is at once a technological device allowing user-participation and also an industrial system appropriating user data for submission to marketing regimes that are both omnipresent and individually traced and targeted through user-profiling technologies.
Pharmacology, understood in this very broad sense, studies organologically the effects brought about by technics and does so such that its socialization involves some prescriptions — that is to say, a system of shared and apportioned care, a common ground of the economy in general, if is true that to economize means to take care. More particularly, Ars Industrialis calls for a pharmacology of attentiveness to the era of technologies of the mind and spirit.
Both poison and cure, the pharmakon can also become a scapegoat for the carelessness that does not know how to play a curative part and leaves it to poison the lives of the incurious — that is to say, those who do not know how to live pharmaco-logically. It can also lead, through its toxicity, to naming scapegoats for the calamitous effects to which it can lead in situations of carelessness. The current mélange of industrial populism and all kinds of political regressions proceeds entirely from this state of affairs – and it constitutes, particularly in Western and Eastern Europe, but also (and above all) in France and Italy, a historic shame for those countries that were once cradles of great artistic, scientific, philosophical and political cultures.
In principle, a pharmakon must always be considered according to the three senses of the word: as a poison, as a remedy, and as a scapegoat (an outlet). For this reason, as Gregory Bateson has emphasized, the treatment program of Alcoholics Anonymous always consists of first placing value on the necessarily remedial (and beneficial) function of alcohol for the alcoholic before entering the process of detoxification.2
That we should always consider any pharmakon proceeding first from the perspective of a positive pharmacology, obviously does not mean that we should not be allowed to prohibit one or another kind of pharmakon. A pharmakon can have toxic effects such that its adoption by social systems, conditioned by given geographical and biological systems,3 is not feasible, and such that its positive implementation proves impossible. This is precisely the question posed by nuclear power.
1The question of pharmakon entered into contemporary philosophy with Jacques Derrida’s commentary on Phaedrus, in “Plato’s Pharmacy,” in Dissemination (University of Chicago, 1981). The pharmakon as writing (as hypomnēsis) is where Plato fights its poisonous and artificial effects by opposing it to anamnesis as the activity of “thinking for oneself.” Derrida shows that precisely where Plato opposes autonomy and heteronomy, they nonetheless co-compose themselves incessantly.
2 Bateson, Gregory.
3 In the sense proposed by Eloi Laurent in Social-écologie (Flammarion, 2011).
Prostheticity designates the fact that man lives only by, with, and according to his technical “prostheses,” and, in particular, from the point of view adopted here, with and according to “crutches of the mind and spirit” that are human constructs. Man is a neotenic being – that is to say, a being who is born prematurely and essentially incomplete; and hecomes to be formed or educated only through his technical prostheses.
Prostheticity, over the course of hominization’s process of exteriorization, names heteronomy giving rise to autonomy. This autonomy is always contingent and conditional and, ever since his originary deficiency, gives the human over to thought – such that it is forever being put into question by technicity, which in effect is itself always new. We only are insofar as we are incessantly put into question and always through the intermediation of these prostheses that, traversing those who are given the name of men, constitute a deficiency as well as an excess. Thus, for man, to adopt technics is not to adapt to a state of fact, but to adopt that which puts man into question. To say that the prosthetic is “pharmaco-logical” is to propose that the technics that puts us in question may also close us to the question: the pharmakon short-circuits individuation.1
It would seem that, after the long process of technical exteriorization that has constituted our history,2 we now live in a process of prosthetic interiorization, not only in the sense that our prostheses have become internal,2 but in the sense that biological individuation itself is prostheticized, and, with it, the process of adoption tied to the reproduction of life. Proletarianization thereby affects all fields of reproduction – from the contested entitlement of private farmers to select their seeds (this is what is truly at stake with GMOs), to surrogate mothers renting their wombs on the market for industrialized human reproduction.4
2Exteriorization only makes sense if it is interiorized, since then the exterior is no longer simply an exteriority; in the same way, the interiorization of this exterior is not pre-ceded by any interiority. Thus, an interiorization would be possible starting from this “transitional space” (Winnicott) – neither inside nor outside.
3 As with The Intruder that Jean-Luc Nancy writes of. See Jean-Luc Nancy, Corpus, trans. Richard A. Rand (Fordham University Press, 2008) 161-170.
Technics of the self
What Michel Foucault called the care of the self (“epimeleia heautou” or “cura sui”) is not a simple state of mind: it is what it is insofar as it is constituted by way of its practices. The history of the Western technics of the self is structured by the process of grammatization.
Pierre Hadot critiques the traditional way Greek philosophers are read in order to bring out some ideas or doctrines; he maintains, instead, that philosophy consists initially in a conversion into a form of life, into an art of life, based on the self working on itself by way of a set of noetic (intellectual and spiritual) exercises. Philosophy itself would be such an exercise.
Michel Foucault rediscovers the care of the self in working through what he calls “the hermeneutics of the subject” – namely, the relationship between subjectivity and truth. Foucault studies the “arts of self,” the “practice of the self,” and, explicitly, the “technics of the self,” including the writing of the self. The practices of the self have certain characteristics. They must be repeated, regular, or even ritualized. They pertain to some kind of training or exercise (“askēsis” or “exercitium”). They are enlightened by the care of the self in general, and by the orientation (the doctrine) belonging to the philosophical schools (to the Stoics or Epicureans, for example).
Thus, Philo of Alexandria gave two lists of the technics of the self that bear the mark of Stoicism. The first includes searching, in-depth examination, reading, listening, attentiveness, self-mastery, and indifference to things that are indifferent. The second includes readings, meditations, the therapy of the passions, memories or reminders of what is good, self-mastery, and the performance of duties. From a practical point of view, intellectual exercises, such as listening, reading, and memorization, prepare the meditation that deepens in its search and examination, and results in techniques of self-mastery.
Attentiveness (“prosochē”) is both a general orientation of practices of the self and a particular technique. Meditation plays a central role in the technics of the self. The Latin word meditatio translated melētē, which in Greek means care, the act of being attentively occupied with someone or something; initially, it referred to an orator’s preparation. Meditation, most often associated with memorization, is the spiritual exercise par excellence.
Technics of the self constitute a critical tradition of attentiveness. Today, they allow one to inquire into the type of attentiveness characteristic of a “majority opposed to conditioning” – that is to say, opposed to the destruction of knowledge and work by employment and opposed to being formatted by psychopower. Ars Industrialis advances the position that digital technologies of the mind and spirit can and should be put in the service of the self. Cultural industries, the industries of programming, media, telecommunications, cultural and cognitive technologies – which are nothing other than hypomnēmata of our time – are thus to be evaluated in terms of their care of the self. The care of the self is not an egocentric tendency, as the contemporary ideology of “well-being” would have it (and all the more volubly as unease and “ill-being” expand their dominion); rather, care of the self is always inscribed as a way of taking care of youth and future generations. This evaluation of technologies of the mind and spirit, including the digital, bears centrally on the relationship between school and the technics of the self and of writing – for example, by way of the critique of digital reading and the conditions of “industrial readings” [e.g. with the convergence of Google and marketing], and by way of the reflections that Ars Industrialis shares with the online journal Revue Skhole.fr.
Technologies of the Mind and Spirit
A set formed by the convergence of audiovisual broadcasting, telecommunications, and IT. The submission of technologies of the mind and spirit solely to market criteria maintains them in the function of “technologies of control.” Thus marketing has become the science of societies of control.
Technologies of the mind and spirit are now largely “technology R” – that is to say, relational technologies.
We must fight against the false syllogism holding that, the mind and spirit being intangible, technologies and industries operating there can only be virtual and devoid of infrastructure (as if there could be an enterprise – even if only a service enterprise – with no means of production).
Technologies of the mind and spirit must distinguish between:
Psychotechnologiesand nootechnologies; only the second of these belong to the technics of spirit that promote the culture and the value of mind and spirit.
Industrial politics of the mind and spirit. The mind, or spirit, is produced in a technical milieu. Today, this milieu has totally mutated due to the spectacular development of cognitive and cultural technologies, and its cultivation can no longer be left to a financialized capitalism (that works for the short term), but must instead be taken up and driven both by a public politics and by an industrial politics (that would work for the long term).
Collaborative technologies of the mind and spirit obsolesce the division of labor and social roles modeled on the opposition between production and consumption. They are called upon to fundamentally alter the linear sequence: research / design / development / marketing / distribution / consumption.
Relational technologies designate the set of technologies that not only put [things] into relation, but equally also engram those relationships. As such, relational technologies are a contemporary moment in the process of grammatization that consists in discretizing the temporal flow – that is to say, that consists in spatializing time. Following the grammatization of speech in writing, then the grammatization of the gesture by the machine tool, social relations are now grammatized by relational technologies.
Although social networking services (Facebook and Twitter are the best known, but there are many others) are the most visible manifestation of relational technologies, they are only part of a larger technological environment of the internet and the world wide web, which form the associated technological environment for the development of contributory logics.
Relational technologies are, above all else, industrial technologies of transindividuation: they produce something of transindividuation in grammatizing the relations themselves, and this grammatization overdetermines the composition of the relations of individuals who are thereby co-individuated and socialized.
Generally, this grammatization, at this stage in the development of social networks and digital relational technologies, is not yet a thematized and criticized – not yet an adopted – object of collective individuation. Relational technologies make possible the constitution of critical relational space and time (that is to say, of circuits of critical transindividuation), but in the current state of their organization, they are instead (and in very large part) uncritical devices. The gain generated by the grammatization of relations themselves is placed exclusively in the service of the commercial interests of companies that operate these networks, and against the existential interests of those who form the reality of these networks – namely their members.
Like any pharmakon, relational technologies can just as easily produce short circuits as long circuits in transindividuation. If the scope of these technologies is left to market forces alone, then, induced by the will of the market into a very short term “monetization” of the graph of social relations, it will necessarily produce a drastic shortening in the circuits of transindividuation.
This is why it is necessary to have a politics to accompany relational technology. Indeed, this is another name for the social rationale of Ars Industrialis – an “association for the promotion of an industrial politics of technologies of the spirit.” It is a matter, through this politics, of putting into place a true relational ecology – something that involves a politics of the territorialization of relational technologies. It involves, in other words, the design and arrangement of digital networks structurally constituted by their global amplitude with local networks and georeferenced through wherever it is that relational technologies are reinventing the processes of territorialized collective individuation.
In historical terms, “technoscience” designates the epoch over the course of which science became a function of the economy; in such an era, science is required by industry.
In philosophical terms, “technoscience” designates the non-separation of science and technics (which must, however, remain distinguished1). For science, it is no longer a matter of describing that which is, but of making happen that which will happen: laboring to bring into the world its transformation. Nanoscience, for example, is straightaway a nanotechnology where to know something is to form and fashion it.
The scientist, as a living man, is the ambivalence of his prosthesis, he is the deficiency that calls for a supplement. Technoscience thus signifies that the milieu of science – in the double sense of the Umwelt (milieu of life and of knowledge) and of the medium (milieu as intermediary) – is technics, and that technics is not a set of tools for acting upon nature, for the very reason that technics makes milieu. There is nothing to measure without an instrument of measure; it is the work of measuring that creates—and creates from the reality to be measured the sense and meaning of object. To speak of “technical milieu” is to suffer a naive understanding of technics as a instrument in the service of knowledge; it also runs counter to the idea of a science emancipated from its prostheses, from its hypomnēmata – as it appeared to the eyes of Husserl himself in The Origin of Geometry.2
Science has always presupposed a hypomnēsic technics, and has never been pure from all technics, contrary to the usual claims in Plato and, after him, in the whole tradition we call “metaphysics.” In our vocabulary, science is linked to a certain stage of grammatization – that of the synthesis of logos by the letter. As for technoscience, as the industrial age of science, it is tied to still further advances in grammatization – even as it is somehow in itself the advancing of grammatization: one of the main activities of contemporary science, after all, is precisely to grammatize. Indeed contemporary science grammatizes even life itself: the sequencing of DNA, for example, is a process of the grammatization of life. This poses the question of the status of technics in life itself, and, in the first place, in the life of what we call non-inhuman being.
This term is derived from the Greek organon, meaning tool or device.
“General organology” is a method of analysis conjoining the history and the becoming of physiological organs, artificial organs, and social organizations. It describes a transductive relation between three types of “organs”: physiological, technical, and social. The relationship is transductive to the extent that a variation in the terms of one type always involves a variation in the terms of the other two types. A physiological organ – including the brain, seat of the psychic apparatus1 – does not change independently from technical and social organs. This way of thinking is inspired by Georges Canguilhem’s work in The Normal and the Pathological.
In our day, constant organological transformation knows an unprecedented upheaval that we call hyper-maladjustment after the concept elaborated by Bertrand Gille.2 This results not only from the acceleration of technological change, but also from the neoliberal model that, since the “conservative revolution,” consists in replacing social organizations and institutions with services that are themselves technological and fully subject to an economic system that has became entirely speculative. There is hyper-maladjustment when the artificial organa forming the technical system short-circuit both the level of organs and psychosomatic apparatuses (including genital organs and the brain) and the level of social organizations. This is what leads to what we call a generalized proletarianization.
1 Though the psychic apparatus is not reducible to the brain, since it also requires technical organs, artificial objects supporting symbolization (language, to name one case).
2 Bertrand Gille shows that, starting from the industrial revolution, the dynamics of the technical system increases and accelerates its transformation such that the primary function of government comes to be the regulation of the maladjustment resulting between technical and social systems.
Hypomnēmata, in a general sense, are the objects generated by hypomnēsis, that is to say, by the artificial and technical externalization of memory. Hypomnēmata are the artificial media of memory in all its forms: from prehistorically engraved bones to the MP3 player, passing through the writing of the Bible, the printing press, photography, etc.
Hypomnēmata, in the strict sense, are techniques specifically invented to enable the production and transmission of memory; they are externalized memory media that expand our neural memory. All individuation is inseparable from the media of externalized memory. Television, radio, internet, as mnemonic technologies, are new forms of hypomnēmata calling for new practices.
To understand hypomnēsis is to understand that memory (individual and social) is located not only in our brains but also between them, in artifacts.
Hypomnēmata and writing of the self. Michel Foucault, reflecting on the hypomnēmata understood as support media for memory,1thought of them as the writing of the self, as a modality of the constitution of the self. Without these hypomnēmata, there is a great risk of sinking into an agitation of the mind and spirit, that is to say, into a flightiness of attention, which prevents the mind and spirit from attuning themselves properly. We see this today with channel-surfing. “The writing of hupomnēmata,” writes Foucault, “resists this scattering by fixing acquired elements, and by constituting a share of the past, as it were, toward which it is always possible to turn back, to withdraw.”2
1 "Hupomnēmata, in the technical sense, could be account books, public registers, or individual notebooks serving as memory aids" (Foucault, “Self Writing" (1983), in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, Ed. Paul Rabinow, 209).
2 Foucault, “Self Writing" (1983), in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, Ed. Paul Rabinow, 212.
Subsist, Exist, Consist
Through this triptych we can describe human life. In every society, there seems to exist a great distribution of human activities according to whether they are subject to subsistences or destined to existences, a distribution that echoes that between the otium (plans of existence) and negotium (plans of subsistence). To the traditional couple of subsistence and existence, we add a third term, that of consistence (that which holds with).
- Subsistence is the immutable order of needs and the imperative of their satisfaction; it is the imperative of survival. When human life is reduced to the pure necessity of subsistence, it is pulled down to the level of needs and loses the sense of existence. Such needs are now artificially produced through the power of marketing.
- The existence - the human fact of ex-sistere – of being thrown out of the self, of being constituted outside of oneself and in a to-come – is what constitutes man as he exists in and through the relation he maintains to his objects – not insofar as he needs, but insofar as he desires. This desire is that of a singularity – and all existence is singular.
- Consistence designates the process through which human existence is driven and trans-formed by its objects, where it projects what goes beyond itself, and which does not exist but rather consists. It thus includes the object of one’s desire, which by definition is the infinite except that the infinite does not exist; what exists must be calculable in space and in time (in other words, what exists is the finite). Such infinites include objects of idealization in all their forms: objects of love (my love), objects of justice (the justice which no one can renounce on the pretext that it nowhere really exists), and objects of truth (mathematical idealities).
Insofar as it is able to project onto some such plans of consistence, existence, which Aristotle called the noetic soul, is driven by the process of a psychic individuation that is always also a collective individuation. Consistence is what projects and crystallizes the psychic in the social. Consistence tends to make all consistencies converge with one single aim, and in this way it produces what Simondon called the transindividual – which is to say, the signification shared by psychic individuals transindividuating in a collective individuation.
The being-in-the-milieu that is man has this unique trait: an existence without mnemotechnical support could not constitute its consistence. This milieu is organological, which is to say also pharmacological: it is through its epiphylogenetic organs and its hypomnēmata that the life of [animal] need becomes capable of idealization.
Translated by Robert Hughes, Ohio State University
Anamnēsis, hypomnēsis (Memory)
The Greek pair of anamnesis and hypomnēsis helps examine the [operations of] memory.
Anamnesis. From the Greek ana (lift) and mnēme (memory), this term signifies reminiscence (also translated as recollection). There are two distinct dimensions of memory: the recording, which the Greeks called “mnesis” and the Latins “memoria”; and the remembering, which the Greeks called “anamnesis” and the Latins “reminiscientia.” Merely to record does not suffice; memory must then accomplish a tracing back or return to what has been recorded.
Hypomnēsis. This term refers to all the technics of memory: memory aids, [mnemonic] exercises and other “arts of memory,” as well as all kinds of physical-media recordings – in other words, the hypomnēmata.
The condition of all living memory (anamnesis) is that it can be projected outside of itself (hypomnesis, hypomnēmata) to surpass its finitude and to be fed and transmitted. In contrast to Plato,1we believe that there is no anamnesis without hypomnēsis2– that the externalization of memory is not the death of anamnesis, but rather its very condition. These two types of memory must be distinguished, but not set in opposition.
Mere recording is by itself a dead memory; and remembering, such as is required for reading, for example, is typically an activity that cannot be entirely delegated and set out under a technical form. At a time when (prostheticized) memory is definitively underway to change media and milieu, Ars Industralis tries to find a means to preserve a complementarity between the two faces of memory.3
So where is memory lodged? The whole challenge is to no longer answer “in the head.” At the end of the sixteenth century, in his Iconologia devoted to images of the “things that are within man himself and inseparable from him,” Cesare Ripa gives Memory a double face, with a pen in her right hand and a book in her left. So, (individual and social) memory is not only in our brains but between them, in artifacts. Memory is not internal: rather, it is essentially a process of exteriorization. Indeed, my memory is not strictly my memory.4
1For Plato (Phaedrus, Mēno) anamnesis was knowledge, the act through which the soul remembers and knows (the reminiscence of Ideas), whereas hypomnēsis refers to memory aids and the external technics of memory (including writing!), which were not, according to Plato, procedures of knowledge but rather their perversion (as with rhetoric and sophistry).
2All of this is since well known to philosophers: what opens the Derridean problem in Husserl is the thinking of the hypomnēsic genesis of geometric anamnesis.
3In our terms, the question becomes how to think a hypomnēsic recording in its correlation with an anamnesic recollection? Hence the challenge for the digital age is to work on the hypomnēsic structures that arouse and promote (but do not replace) anamnesis.
4 “Thoughts one keeps for oneself get lost. And forgetting makes one see that ‘I,’ the Self, is… nobody!”(Paul Valéry, Collected Works of Paul Valéry, Volume 14: Analects, trans. Stuart Gilbert, 484). Paul Valéry clearly understood that memory, the “the power of absent things,” makes the man, and that this man is shut outside of himself. “Man is a captive animal – shut up outside of his cage – in all he does he is ‘beside himself’” (Paul Valéry, Collected Works of Paul Valéry, Volume 14: Analects, trans. Stuart Gilbert, 68).
Translated by Robert Hughes, Ohio State University