PROLEGOMENA TO A REVISABLE READING: Bernard Stiegler and the duplicity of jargon


The impression of lexical obfuscation that I describe comes after reading several of Stiegler’s books or after listening to several of his classes. One feels illuminated and inspired at first, but then the repetitious but un-illuminating use of an abstract jargon becomes the dominant impression.

In particular in the courses and seminars, a major part of the talk is is taken up by the task of reducing any other discussion to these abstract tokens, and repetitively tracing the connections between the tokens.


When I say that my criteria of satisfaction with a theorist as based on divergence rather than convergence, I am not talking about a theoretical satisfaction based on divergence within the text examined, but about divergence in my evaluations.

I am successively and/or simultaneously satisfied, dissatisfied, perplexed, by what I read. So you will never see satisfaction-convergence in my meditations. The thinkers and the ideas you love are also your traumas. That’s what pushes you to think, and not just to follow.


On the trinome of reduction: I do not accuse Stiegler of technological reductionism, nor of any mono-reductionism, I say explicitly the opposite. My point is his self-revendicated avoidance of technological reductionism is flawed, in that he falls into trinomic or triadic reductionism.


 Here I fully adhere to Stiegler’s self-defence. He admits to misreading his sources, but he reminds us that all these thinkers (Nietzsche, Foucault, Canguilhem, Simondon, Derrida, Deleuze) were in favour of individuation and thus of creative misreading. He argues that we must become the « quasi-causes » of our influences and not their banal retranscription.


I do not effectuate the standard moves of standard philosophy, with its dualisms and its unilateral valorisation of cognitive thought. This is one point where I wholeheartedly adopt Stiegler’s vocabulary: the substitution of « noesis » for « cognition » is no mere verbal tokenising, and it helps us avoid the reduction of thought to cognitive processes and the sterile contrast between emotional thought and cognition.


My own writing, like my talking, is neologistic in both French and English. My problem is not with Stiegler’s theoretical vocabulary resorting to neologistic tokenising, for we need its power of re-conceptualisation. There is also an abbreviating and time-saving quality to such a jargon, allowing us to go faster.

However this abbreviation-effect of idiolectal tokens can become mere stereotyping, and the speed-effect can move from acceleration (whether good or bad, vis-à-vis stereotypes) to time-wasting obsessive ritual retracing of connections between tokens.

Further, there is a temporality in thinking which means that one’s reflections belonging to a phase prior to serious engagement with an oeuvre, in this case Stiegler’s, need to be treated with prudence.


This prudence is associated with another of my satisfaction-criteria (in this case of my degree of satisfaction with my own analysis of a thinker’s work): immanence, including that basic form of immanence that is immersion in the oeuvre. Our first impressions do not satisfy that criterion of basic immersion, and so they can only be prolegomena.

I believe that prolegomena are not first principles, neither temporally nor logically, and that they must continually be revisable.

Note: I wish to thank Artxell Knaphni for a stimulating discussion, which helped me to clarify the ideas expressed in this post.

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2 commentaires pour PROLEGOMENA TO A REVISABLE READING: Bernard Stiegler and the duplicity of jargon

  1. landzek dit :

    I have not read S.
    it appears to me that I would suggest, from your extremely brief synopsis/comment, that S is suggesting that there is a sort of static sort of “traditional“ maybe “known“ lineage of philosophical thinking by which we can immerse ourselves into a philosopher to be able to come to a “more true“ idea of what the philosopher actually is saying. Against this, again this, again from your post here, it appears that he saying that his version is different from this admittedly somehow “more true“ version. And that’s we have S it seems making a discussion about how people get to come to first impressions and argue various sorts of philosophy is that somehow have not “fully engaged“ or immerse themselves into the text.

    If that is making any sense you, then I would say that that kind of meaning totally defies the meaning of the authors in question.

    It seems to me that the only way that your post can have any sense is if there is some sort of static philosophical truth that exists within a full reading of any particular author, as I think you are suggesting with the idea of “immersion”.

    I think there is a difference between just kind of reading something in general then coming to some grand idea of what the author might be saying, and being fully engaged with the text and coming up with the meaning of the text that is different from what this “true“ reading might be, this “traditional“ or I don’t even know how you would place that meaning in context to have this kind of subsequent meaning.


  2. landzek dit :

    I guess what I’m saying is even though I’ve personally fully engaged with various texts I find the meaning that I gained from them does not really correspond with what I understand as the “traditional“ meaning. I’m not sure if I am capable of placing my most thorough understanding of those authors I have fully engaged with, in a context that I am not understanding what the author is “actually“ saying. But likewise I’m not sure I could qualify my understanding of these authors as “my personal interpretation“.

    And yet I do understand there is some sort of discrepancy or crying and actually that’s why I have come to use in my work the idea of “not real”. Because there is no arguing whether something is real and less you qualify various sorts of reality as existing before hand as some sort of “true“ actual static existence by which we compare ourselves. I’m not sure if I have any viable means of comparison, except as much is I might have a certain faith that the object against which I compare myself has some sort of more substantial or legitimate being then this other idea that I am having.

    Definitely a tangled web. Lol.


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