DO WE NEED A COMMON GROUND? The case of Bruno Latour and Bernard Stiegler

I have given many arguments (for example here) to show that while AIME is advancing in the right direction, it is not going as far as it could in terms of pluralism, and that there is something shaky, to say the least, about its notion of the necessity of elaborating a common ground, that must be shared if fruitful collaboration and negotiation is to be possible.

I have been following a similar project to Bruno Latour’s AIME, proposed by Bernard Stiegler. He wishes to break up the closed system of an archipelago of a plurality of isolated social and digital enclaves that exists in academia and on the internet. To do so he has invented a comparable dispositif to AIME project, organised around free annotations that people interested in Stiegler’s project (which is quite pluralist I think, although he does not
use that term) can make to the videos of his online courses and seminars, that he publishes on a site dedicated to this activity: However, Stiegler still sets up (like Latour) as framing condition the necessity of learning a common language (basically, his language) and of sharing a common ground.

My problem is that, though I find both projects very attractive and inspiring, the very conditions of contribution exclude the bulk of what I am capable of saying, and so the overall result is to disempower me if I stay within those terms. My solution has been to “contribute” as required, enough to remain in phase with the project, and to unleash
my full expressive potential on my blog, on twitter, on facebook, on, on youtube.

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2 Responses to DO WE NEED A COMMON GROUND? The case of Bruno Latour and Bernard Stiegler

  1. Bill Benzon says:

    This is tricky. I’m inclined to say that where there is (little or) no common ground between parties, there is only power. So a common ground is necessary. But how is that common ground arrived at?

    It would seem that both Latour and Stiegler have the power to impose a common ground, ones within which there is perhaps quite a bit of leeway, but neither completely open. If you can’t agree to their terms, you’re excluded from their commons.

    And that makes sense. The best conversations I’ve ever had in academia were in the research group of the late David Hays. The group focus was a particular set of ideas he’d been elaborating with his students over a period of years. Because members of the group agreed to those ideas, more or less, conversations could be productive. If you’re in a position where every conversation devolves into a trial over the meanings of basic terms, nothing gets accomplished.

    What are the chances of Latour and Stiegler having a productive conversation?

    The REAL conversation, the one where a commons IS being negotiated, is not, of course, being bounded by Latour, or Stiegler, nor Harman, nor Zizek, for that matter. We don’t know who will rise and who will fall in this conversation over the next decades. Nor do we know whether or not it will ever issue in a robust commons.


    • dirk says:

      I think this was the general point of Richard Rorty (pace the derrideans) that Philosophy cannot do the work of (substitute for, or otherwise rule) democratic institutions/practices when it comes to getting things done by more than one person.


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