4 Technics and the human
Though some of the writers discussed in the last two chapters offer examples of the
use of tools and other artifacts in their theories of cognitive extension, none of them
pursues the wider implications for the technological development of human culture,
or the possible role of the extended self in that development.
For a more comprehensive view of the impacts of technology on human
behavior and evolution, or technics as it is known in the broadest sense, the dis
cussion now turns to BernardStiegler, one of the current generation of
5 Rethinking evolution
Most readers of a work of this kind will have at least a rudimentary knowledge of
Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, sufficient up till this point to appreciate
why architectural theorists and others should take such a strong interest in the kind
of issues discussed in this book.
However, if, as Edward Hall suggested and BernardStiegler has since argued at
great length, technology has played a major role in the evolution of Homo sapiens,
distinguishing it from all other species, the question arises as to whether our species
While there is widespread agreement across disciplines that the identities of individuals, groups and places are significantly interrelated, there are equally divergent views as to the nature and origins of those relationships. The first part of the book highlights that the prime importance of the human body in spatial cognition and human perception generally. In stressing the fundamental role of the body as the medium of all personal experience, the concept of the self that emerges thus far retains a strong unitary core. An alternative theory of extended minds which retains the integrity of individual human agents while embracing the extension of personal powers by external devices is also discussed. The second part looks at the scope of inquiry to take in the wider impact of technology on human evolution and the extended self. Selected writings from some of Stiegler's prominent followers and critics were also examined for what they contribute to our understanding of Stiegler's ideas and their possible further applications. He and his followers continue to fall back upon neo-Darwinian concepts and terminologies in elaborating their ideas. Theories of emergence and self-production, or autopoiesis, are investigated as promising alternatives to orthodox evolutionary theory. The subject of design, function of memes, impacts of the coevolution of humankind and technology on the human mind and the self are some other concepts discussed. The third part of the book focuses talk about cognitive roots of classification and combinativity, the relations between form and content, and vernacular architecture.
necessary to broaden the analytic scope and
consider alternative methods of engagement. A useful place to begin,
I believe, is with the philosophy of BernardStiegler.
Since his early collaborations with Jacques Derrida before the latter’s
death in 2004, Stiegler’s work has been characterised as much by its
grounding in concrete societal concerns (education and youth policy;
the pharmaceutical industries; the influence of television and the media)
as by its distinctive intellectual apparatus. A key point of connection
for these concerns is a concept
Part II summary
Commencing in Chapter 4 with an examination of BernardStiegler’s theory of
technics, the second part of this book opened up the scope of inquiry to take in
the wider impact of technology on human evolution and the extended self. While
Stiegler overlooks the making and use of tools by primates and other creatures,
he argues convincingly that the accumulative effects of humankind’s technical
exteriorization, or what he crisply describes as the coevolution of the ‘who and the
what,’ sets our species apart from any other. Selected writings from some
theories of creativity advanced by several like-minded authors during the last
century were quoted before proceeding to Brian Arthur’s ‘combinatorial theory’ of
technological evolution, closing an important gap in BernardStiegler’s work regarding the evolutionary agents involved in human technicity. Significantly, while Arthur
arrived independently at his own interpretation of the self-producing character of
evolving technologies, he also explicitly acknowledges parallels with the work of
Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varella on autopoietic systems.
-Darwinian concepts of natural selection that provide
little help in understanding the modern condition, and how we came to shape the
world in our own image to the extent that the phrase ‘natural environment’ has little
meaning anymore; not the least outcome being the urbanization of half the global
population, along with possibly irreversible changes to the climate and biosphere.
Following BernardStiegler,7 the philosopher of human technics whose work is
discussed at length in this book, and Timothy Taylor,8 an archaeologist who arrived
at much the same conclusion from his own
technicity, see the introduction
to Louis Armand and Arthur Bradley (eds), Technicity, Prague: Litteraria
5 Jacques Derrida and BernardStiegler, Echographies of Television: Filmed
Interviews , Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002, p. 129.
6 Jacques Derrida, Copy, Archive, Signature: A Conversation on Photography
, ed. Gerhard Richter, trans. Jeff Fort, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford
University Press, 2010, p. 39.
7 Jacques Lacan, ‘The Instance of the Letter in the Unconscious, or Reason
Since Freud’ , in Écrits, trans. Bruce Fink, New York and
responding and in which I have developed it. Just as Raymond Williams explored the possibility of
modern tragedy in a dramatized society so I am supplementing
his arguments to consider the possibility of an artistic figuring of, or response to, trauma in a traumatized society/culture.
Trauma-tragedy is a model of contemporary performance that
has arisen in response to the de-cathected, individualized and
flattened society in which we live at the beginning of the twentyfirst century.1
BernardStiegler formulates a notion of contemporary, latecapitalist consumer society as
’s report for Les Inrockuptibles, 27 January 2009.
Fabienne Pascaud, Télérama n° 3079.
BernardStiegler, De la Misère symbolique, La catastrophe du sensible (Paris: Galilée,
2005), pp. 281–2.
Fabienne Pascaud, Télérama.
H. Barker, Ces tristes lieux, pourquoi faut-il que tu y entres?, Actes Sud, 2009, p. 18.
Jacques Rancière, Le Spectateur émancipé (Paris: La Fabrique éditions, 2008), p. 20.
My translation of « […] les processus de production aussi bien que de consommation […] qui vise à capter et à canaliser la libido des individus, et à réduire toutes