What Makes Life Worth Living: On Pharmacology

Overview

In the aftermath of the First World War, the poet Paul Valérywrote of a ‘crisis of spirit’, brought about by theinstrumentalization of knowledge and the destructive subordinationof culture to profit. Recent events demonstrate all too clearlythat that the stock of mind, or spirit, continues to fall. Theeconomy is toxically organized around the pursuit of short-termgain, supported by an infantilizing, dumbed-down media. Advertisingtechnologies make relentless demands on our attention, reducing usto idiotic beasts, ...

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What Makes Life Worth Living: On Pharmacology

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Overview

In the aftermath of the First World War, the poet Paul Valérywrote of a ‘crisis of spirit’, brought about by theinstrumentalization of knowledge and the destructive subordinationof culture to profit. Recent events demonstrate all too clearlythat that the stock of mind, or spirit, continues to fall. Theeconomy is toxically organized around the pursuit of short-termgain, supported by an infantilizing, dumbed-down media. Advertisingtechnologies make relentless demands on our attention, reducing usto idiotic beasts, no longer capable of living. Spiralling rates ofmental illness show that the fragile life of the mind is atbreaking point.

Underlying these multiple symptoms is consumer capitalism, whichsystematically immiserates those whom it purports to liberate.Returning to Marx’s theory, Stiegler argues that consumerismmarks a new stage in the history of proletarianization. It is nolonger just labour that is exploited, pushed below the limits ofsubsistence, but the desire that is characteristic of human spirit.

The cure to this malaise is to be found in what Stiegler calls a‘pharmacology of the spirit’. Here, pharmacology hasnothing to do with the chemical supplements developed by thepharmaceutical industry. The pharmakon, defined as both cure andpoison, refers to the technical objects through which we openourselves to new futures, and thereby create the spirit that makesus human. By reference to a range of figures, from Socrates,Simondon and Derrida to the child psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott,Stiegler shows that technics are both the cause of our sufferingand also what makes life worth living.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Stiegler's title is bold, but make no mistake: this book really isabout what makes life worth living. We can neglect this dimension– disastrously – or we can act to sustain it. Asurvival manual for the twenty-first century, this is alsocontemporary philosophy as a call to arms."
Martin Crowley, University of Cambridge

"This work, an excellent primer on the latest phase ofStiegler’s project and an excellent introduction to hiswriting, attempts to turn a thinking of the pharmakon from itsresonance as poison to that of a cure to the pan-toxicity he findsin the robo-interiorities of the present and their link toeco-catastrophic outcomes.  What this book also displays isthat Stiegler has long been the most productive critical reader ofDerrida's legacy today – and this at a time when anythinglike official 'deconstruction' gasps for relevance.’"
Tom Cohen, State University of New York at Albany

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745662718
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 6/4/2013
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard Stiegler is Director of Cultural Development at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. His many books in English include Technics and Time, For a New Critique of Political Economy, The Decadence of Industrial Democracies and Uncontrollable Societies of Disaffected Individuals.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements viii

Introduction: A Continent on the Move 1

1 Myriad Challenges and Opportunities 5

2 A Demographic Dividend or Just More People? 21

3 Tropical Dilemmas: Disease, Water, and More 35

4 Educating Future Generations 55

5 To War Rather than to Prosper 69

6 Accountability and the Wages of Corrupt Behavior 91

7 The Infrastructural Imperative 116

8 Harnessing Mobile Telephone Capabilities 134

9 China Drives Growth 151

10 Strengthening Governance 173

11 Creating Responsible Leadership 189

Notes 216

Select Bibliography 244

Index 252

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