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A Day of Talks with Philosopher Bernard Stiegler

General Programming

  • Institute for Comparative Literature and Society
  • Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
  • Maison Française
  • Center for Justice
  • Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
  • Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture
  • Center for Contemporary Critical Thought
  • Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures
  • Department of Art History and Archaeology
  • Department of French and Romance Philology
Headshot of Bernard Stiegler

On 29 September 2015, Columbia University will host one of today's leading thinkers: French philosopher and activist, Bernard Stiegler. Professor Stiegler will be delivering a public lecture, an invitation-only lecture, and a by-application seminar.

Lunchtime Lecture (by invitation only)

The Heyman Center for the Humanities, Common Room
Columbia University

Bernard Stiegler spent five years in a French prison while in his twenties. It was in that context that he began his study of philosophy. The influence of prison in his development as a philosopher is described in his essay "How I Became a Philosopher” in Acting Out. During this lunchtime lecture for invited faculty and graduate students interested in justice studies and teaching inside prisons, Stiegler will discuss his experience while incarcerated and how the time he spent in prison shaped his philosophical thought. Lunch will be provided.

Mini Seminar (application required)

Mini-Seminar: General Organology and Pharmacology

The Heyman Center for the Humanities, Common Room
Columbia University

In this seminar, we will discuss the question of technics in the contemporary world. In No Apocalypse, Not Now, Derrida writes about what he calls “the absolute pharmakon” – that is, the nuclear weapon. In Speed and Politics, Virilio shows that the Russian and American military powers convinced Brezhnev and Nixon to negotiate in order to avoid the release of a nuclear war automatically “decided” by computers. In the same vein, we are now confronted with the question of speed in emergency situations provoked by the Anthropocene, the new geological period to which we belong. To understand this periodization and sketch an answer, we need an organological and pharmacological approach based on Canguilhem’s and Leroi-Gourhan’s works.

Reading List:
-André Leroi-Gourhan, Gesture and speech (trans. Anna Bostock Berger, MIT Press, 1993).
-Georges Canguilhem, The normal and the pathological (trans. Carolyn R. Fawcett with Robert S. Cohen, Zone Books, 1989).
-Bernard Stiegler, What makes life worth living. On pharmacology (trans. Daniel Ross, Polity Press, 2013).
-Paul Virilio, Speed and politics (trans. Marc Polizzotti Semiotext(e), 2006)
-Jacques Derrida, No apocalypse, not now, (trans. Catherine Porter and Philip Lewis, Diacritics, 14(2), 1984).

Please email your name, your Departmental affiliation, your year level, and 2-4 lines describing your research interests, and your particular interest in Bernard Stiegler's work.

Send applications by 22 September 2015 to [email protected].

Participants will be selected by ballot, and will be notified via email by 24 September.

Public Lecture:

Invention and Neganthropology in the Society of Hypercontrol

with respondent Professor Reinhold Martin, GSAPP


Maison Française, Columbia University
Seating is Limited and available on a first come first served basis

Mainstream anthropology, from Lévi-Strauss to contemporary paleoanthropology, has often downplayed the fundamental role of technical development in defining the human. Opposed to that view, in accordance with André Leroi-Gourhan, Bernard Stiegler argues that human life is tightly related to a process of externalization of life into tools and artifacts: humanity is co-extensive with technics. He proposes a "neganthropology" that considers the transformations that technical development impose on our internal and external milieu. A radical example of how technics impact our environment is the way our economic system is subordinated to data in today's absolutely computationalist 24/7 capitalism. In it, the “society of control” has become a society of hypercontrol. In this lecture Stiegler will argue that an “art of hypercontrol” would allow us to reformulate creation, politics, law, economics, science and technology through practices of invention that pertain to the order of "neganthropology."

  • Bernard Stiegler Professor of Philosophy University of Technology of Compiègne
  • Reinhold Martin Associate Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Columbia University