Excerpts from “Technics and Time – 1” – Bernard Steigler

Technics and Time – 1 ‘The Fault of Epimetheus’ – Bernard Stiegler


General Introduction.


The technicisation of science constitutes its eidetic blinding. Considered in terms of the Leibnizian project of a mathēsis universalis, the ensuing displacement of meaning leads to an elaboration of method that is metaphysical.

With the advent of calculation, which will come to determine the essence of modernity, the memory of originary eidetic intuitions, upon which all apodictic [beyond dispute] processes and meaning are founded, is lost. Technicisation through calculation drives Western knowledge down a path that leads to a forgetting of its origin, which is also a forgetting of its truth. This is the “crisis of the European sciences.”


[from a Heideggerian perspective] Dasein, the “entity which we are ourselves,” is the guarantor of being its temporality, a temporality that is also its truth as the history of being. It is characterised by four traits: temporality, historiality, self-understanding, and facticity.


The possibility of refusing the horizon of authentic possibility takes root in “concern” (Besorgen), a relation to the future which concelas in the future the opening of all authentic possibility. … If it is true that the mataphysical side of philosophyculminates in the projection of a mathēsis universalis that encourages a subject to establish itself “as the master and possesor of nature,” where the essence of reason ends up as calculation, then this tturning of metaphysics forms an entrance to the technical age of philosophical thought, as a result of which in its modern guise brings subjectivity to its completion as objectivity. The modern ae is essentiall that of modern technics. … Identity, which is firstly identity of being and thought, constitutes the fundamental trait of being.


The difference between traditional societies and modern societies is characterised by the fact that, in the former, communicative action forms the basis of social authority (whether it be mythical, religeous or metaphysico-political), whereas in the latterlegitimation is dominated by technical and scientific rationality, which progressively spreads across all areas of life, including those so-called “communicative” aspects whose specificity is thereby denied.


[Inspired by insights from Habermas] The technocratic stateno longer has as its aim either the encouragement of communicative action or the acheivement of a critical distance toward purposive rational action. … Its activity consosts in finding solutions to questions of a technical nature, those that escape public discussion. … Communicative action is progressively replaced by purposive-rational action, that is to say, by the scientific model of cybernetics as the technoscientification of language.


I shall show in the first part of this work, how various contributions to a theory of technical evolution permit the hypothesis that between the inorganic beings of the physical sciences and the organic baings of biology, there does indeed exist a thrid genre of “being”: “inorganic organised beings,” or technical objects. These non-organic organisations of matter have their own dynamic, moreover, they cannot be reduced to the “aggragate” or “product” of these beings.

Part 1 – The Invention of the Human





the question is to know if we can predict, and if possible, orient the evolution of technics, that is of power. … the division originally madeby philosophy between tekhnē and ēpistēmē has become problematic.



envisaging a new realtion between the human and technics. … technics as a process of concretisation, … [from the perspective of Simondon] … modern technics as the appearance of technical individuals in the form of machines; hitherto, the human was the bearer of tools asn was itself a technical individual. Today, machines are the tool bearers, and the human is no longer a technical individual; the human becomes either the machine’s servant or its assembler; the human relation to the technical object proves to have profoundly changed. … [in Gliies view] …A “system” in ordinary language is “an apparatus formed by the assemblage of organs, of analogous elements.” … modern technics is dominated by cybernetics as the science of organisation.



Nature is consigned by technics in this sense; nature has become the assistant, the auxiliary; in similar fashion, it is exploited by technics, which has become the master. … Now, is technics a means through which we master nature, or rather does not technics, becoming the master of nature, master us as a part of nature? … the programming of technical evolution harbours the threat of general disequilibrium.



At bottom the issue will be to understand the dynamic of the “technical system,” to study the possibilites of a theory of technical evolution. … A central question will be that of the limits of application of the analogy between the theories of technical and biological evolution. … We envisage the possibility of using the concept of concretisation to describe the evolution of the technical system in general and by considering the system itself as individual and object.

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