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séminaire 2011/2012 séance 3 – 3 mai 2012

Traduction anglaise par Terence Blake :

Pharmakon.fr – Bernard Stiegler Third class of seminar 2012 (part 1) (translated by Terence Blake)
In the preceding seminar, I referred to Ong and Havelock, both to base myself on them and also to support my thesis that Plato is aiming for a therapeutics of the pharmakon that is writing, and also to regret that they themselves do not put sufficient emphasis on this pharmacological dimension, and thus misinterpret, in my opinion, Plato’s intentions. I then tried to specify the conditions in which the tertiary retentions (R3) make possible manipulations which disindividuate both psychic and collective individuals.
I did this while maintaining further that the REPUBLIC constitues a turning point in Plato’s works precisely in that it leads to such a process of disindividuation – this turning point constituting a change in the meaning of the dialectic, which is no longer dialogical, but analytic and is put in the service of the synchronisation of idioms and ways of thinking.
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All that is in play in what comes is linked to the fact that Plato posits that the dialectic preceeds writing, and this is what in the REPUBLIC will authorise him to submit the R3 of writing, but also poetry, and lastly the language of the city in general inasmuch as it does not cease speaking, to a medecine of the soul which will become a police, and not a therapeia (cf TAKING CARE) : the dialectic is that which comes to be imposed as a police of the R3 and of the R2C (collective secondary retentions) – which is authorised to utilise the R3, but without itself being affected by this utilisation.
At the same time, Plato abandons the socratic hypothesis of the dialogical duel which gave birth to truth from the dialogical life of dialogue – which thus could NOT be the experience of the PURE presence of a living present, but
on the contrary that of a duality in co-individuation, i.e. already of a circulation of traces of the other (and I will soon speak of an ORGANOLOGY OF THE OTHER) constitutive of a trace in the same, of the same in the trace, constitutive of the trace itself – traces of the other which are thus ALREADY HETERO-NOMIC, and subsequently interiorised as dia-noia, as if, then, noogenesis had to pass by a relation comparable to that described by Winnicott as the condition of formation of a psychic apparatus.
It is in this sense that I insisted at length in the course on the question of the metamorphosis of the question of the two in Plato – which I fear that Alain Badiou profoundly ignores in his «REPUBLIC», about which I must admit that I find it rather ridiculous.
It is here that Derrida is indispensable: Plato’s Pharmacy is where the aporias which this position leads to are spellt out. But this is also where he is insufficient. For nowhere does he pose the question of the individuating practices of the pharmakon – contrary to Foucault with the tekhné tou biou as well as to Deleuze with Bousquet or Guattari, or as «art of control», etc. , Deleuze himself however lacked an organology – and there is my program.
Here I must set out my point of view on Derrida’s conceptuality of the pharmakon insofar as it seems to me to no longer suffice to endure our epoch.
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Rereading PHAEDRUS with Derrida to go further: Derrida never developed a positive pharmacology because he never articulated R1, 2 et 3 (primary, secondary, and tertiary retentions). I tried to show in a conference at Birkbeck College that in SPEECH AND PHENOMENA Derrida tends to efface the difference between R1 and R2, instead of being satisfied with deconstructing the opposition, and that this prevents him equally from distinguishing the specificity of the R3: his aim is to show that all that refers back to an architrace which pre-ceeds these distinctions and makes them both possible and impossible.

Now that they should be both possible AND impossible, this, this AND, is what must be retained: these distinctions can be made, and they can be lost. That further they proceed from an architrace is no doubt important and interesting, but that is IN EFFECT the case, perhaps, ONLY if we learn starting there to distinguish instead of conflating everything. Such is our pharmacological responsability, and irresponsability. It is in this bipolar between-two that the task of thinking maintains itself.
This is why there is in deconstruction something which is – if I may say so – « misdeconstructed» ; this is also why I talk of having to «deconstruct deconstruction»: I mean that we must deconstruct the consequences of what I consider to be a misunderstanding at the beginning, a mistake from the beginning – a default of origin.
(NB: «default of origin» has the sense of a default present at the origin and also an absence of origin, as in «default of payment»).
The pharmakon is a question which arises in the PHAEDRUS only after the allegory of the winged soul and of its fall which constitutes essentially and uniquely its loss of memory. This loss is what, in the allegory, and by the allegory, must explain the answer that Socrates had to give to Meno to face up to his aporia – roughly ten years earlier. It is clear that Plato does not say that the pharmakon is necessitated by the fall into forgetting that is the body; but it is equally clear that without this fall, there would not even be a reason to speak of making up for the finitude of memory.
The thesis that I have been defending for the last two years in the course is that for the Greeks of archaic Greece the soul is that which returns from Hades, i.e. from the underworld, and that the noetic is constituted by the possible coming back of dead souls in living souls and as their memory inherited and reactivatable because it is tertiarised in a million ways including of course in the form of sepultures. The dead soul is then that which returns from the underground in coming back to haunt the souls which are on the surface of this ground.
All this, we shall see, is also a question that we can find again with Maryanne Wolf in its techn-logical and thus pharmaco-logical neurophysiology.
PHAEDRUS inverts this movement, which culminates in the SYMPOSIUM, and this is what will be transposed in the REPUBLIC by the allegory of the cave and by the transformation of aletheia into orthotès as Heidegger affirms. This also means that Plato will abandon the pharmacological point de vue which constituted the horizon of tragic Greece (which Ong calls «oral») and that it is to assure the DOMESTICATION of the pharmakon that he will elaborate the new conception of the dialogic become the dialectic, and so lose the spirit of Socrates – and his daimon.
As to this tragic origin, and this reversal, which is in the background of Nietzsche’s thought, even if he does not think it in these terms, deconstruction will not have given us any account of it either.
It is also for this reason that the dialogue between Derrida and Deleuze never took place, despite all that Deleuze himself said about the pharmacological situation concerning the question of répétition – i.e. on the basis of Kierkegaard and of Freud.
Derrida in the same way did not pose the question of the MENO, that of reminiscence, and of the mystagogical origin of this theme.

In the contemporary context, whose salient traits, for example, can be described with Nicholas Carr and Maryanne Wolf, on whose work he draws, we must rework this whole construction. And we must do this while keeping in sight the reversal operated by the REPUBLIC, and what Heidegger says about it, namely that in it aletheia becomes orthotès : put all that back on the drawing board, which supposes that we get clear about the role of exactitude in the R3 (tertiary retentions) that I called orthothetic in TECHNICS & TIME 2 (§1), and to see why
1. that does not necessarily lead to a conception of aletheia as orthotès, and it can even lead to the contrary, i.e. to aletheia as anamnésis not of the exact, but of the collective traumatypy which constitutes the dia in individuation,
2. that can also lead to this, and in this case, it is because the pharmakon, functioning as an automaton, has in effect short-circuited the dia (i.e. also the two) in synchronising it, which the PHAEDRUS denounces as a possibility exploited by the sophists with writing, but that Plato puts to work as an anti-dialogic dialectical possibility in the REPUBLIC.
Havelock, Ong et Carr under-estimate all these questions, whereas Wolf sets them to work in our time, and that is why we shall read her more closely a little later.
Heidegger himself neglects the orthetic characteristic of writing as origin of this exactitude that Plato in the allegory of the cave confuses with aletheia. In effect, I will soon maintain that if Plato can fall prey to this confusion, it is because the experience of aletheia supposes an orthothetic form ofR3 – in the sense in which I described the R3L (literal tertiary retentions) as orthothetic in TT2.
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We are not going to speak today, nor as a general rule in this seminar, of the dialectic as such – of the dialectic such as , in the context of the eristic which characterises the city as a place of the logical polemos which replaced the warrior polemos, it is thought first of all on the basis of dialogos. This happens in the VIIth century on the agora, then with Socrates in the Vth century as dialogos strictly speaking.
With Plato, and above all starting with the PHAEDRUS and with the REPUBLIC, this dialogos, which was a situation of elocution and of enunciation, i.e. of co- individuation, gives way to the dialectic as a method of reasoning.
We are not going to analyse here what results from this, which is the dialectic as such, which in the REPUBLIC the allegory of the cave will attempt to found on orthotès – I will come back to that next year in the course – , but we shall work on that which from this angle is interesting in PHAEDRUS when it poses the question of a sort of direct writing in the soul, which will lead us to the questions of organology that I announced.
Before starting on these questions as it were of writing of organs, of organs of writing, and so of reading of organs and of organs of reading, I must however add some words on the question of the dialectic as change in the status of the two because the two is also an organological question – the two of the dia-logue being moreover that which couples two phonatory organs, and by means of them, two cerebral organs, and in them, two souls which co-individuate themselves in ONE spirit, which is a revenance that the tragic poets already describe as a reminiscence, an anamnésis in the sense that this concept has in the tragic society where it is central, as mnesic function of poetic orality (cf last year’s course), and all that (I mean the phonatory and cerebral organs which couple and interlace in a dia-logue) supposes linguistic organs, etc.
Before starting on these questions of organology properly speaking, as I was saying, I still must say something about the new dialectic which emerges out of the change in the status of the two.
This non-socratic, because non-dialogic, dialectic will have had an enormous destiny in philosophy, and a singular destiny in industrial and capitalist societies, since it will be developped as materialist dialectic in Marx, by way of Hegel, who passed by way of Kant with the question of the transcendental dialectic etc. – introducing at the heart of the Hegelian dialectic, and by way of the speculative proposition , a question of time which will also be an elimination of time – i.e. of desire, and this magic trick accomplishes what is already at stake in the Republic.
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In his new definition of the dialectic, Plato distinguishes two moments in what he now presents as a dialectical method:
. the moment of syn-thesis, . the moment of analysis which is the dia-critical moment of the dialectic.
The word synthesis is in fact present in the Greek text of Plato, but analysis is not called analysis there, but instead diairesis, as if, for the dia of dia-logos and for its diachrony, was substituted dia in the sense of diacritic i.e. of decomposition by means of what is in fact an analytic – in the sense that this word will have with Aristotle, and which will return with Kant and then again with Heidegger, and each time of course with transformations.
The destiny of the prefix dia, in philosophy and in Western thought in general is a fundamental question. It is the dia that is found in devil («diable» in French), and which leads to atomisation, to separation. But it is also that which produces dia-critical separation, i.e. which permits one to isolate – in and by the process of grammatisation as such, which itself ALSO permits synchronisation: dia is diabolically pharmacological.
For the dia is also the diachronic in the sense of Saussure or the dialogic in the sense of Bakhtin and of Socrates, i.e. that which is produced with Socrates as a labour of time and of memory: it is that which is produced as invention, exhumation, unearthing, as access TO THE HIDDEN, TO THE LATENT TO ALÉTHEIA.
My (organological and pharmacological) thesis is that these multiple senses of dia, which are made possible by grammatisation inasmuch as each of its phases, at each new epoch of the process of grammatisation, provokes a DER (a double epochal redoubling) – in the shock that the first redoubling constitutes, the diabolical atomisation destroys the circuits and separates them, whereas the reconstitution of long circuits tends to produce new synchronies, which themselves install a new diachrony, less «diabolic», i.e. less atomising, and more individuating, the whole leading towards a new metastable state – , these multiple senses therefore are each time put back into play anew with each new mutation of grammatisation, i.e. at the appeaance of a new form of analytic R3. And this new game each time makes new figures of individuation and of disindividuation emerge.
We shall see that these new figures are also new cerebral organisations , both technological and social.
This is precisely what Plato does not see, and it is even what he absolutely excludes, what he does not want to hear anything about, in particular when he says that truly thinking must preceed the practice of writing.
The dia goes from dialogue to the devil («diable»), by way of diacriticity which makes the dialectic thus understood possible – i.e. as denegation of that which makes it possible, BUT IT ALSO MAKES POSSIBLE THE NEW RÉGIME OF DIACHRONICITY THAT PLATO PRECISELY WANTS TO REDUCE to submit it to a TOTAL SYNCHRONISATION ordered by the dialectic, and conducted under the auspices of philosophy.

It is thus that therapeutics ceases to be a therapeia, and it is for that reason that I claim in principle that the philosopher must not be a therapist in this sense. He must be a therapist of himself, and act so as to encourage his patient auditors to take care of themselves by themselves, as Kant says, but he must not prescribe their care to others. On the other hand he must practice critical pharmacology and propose for debate the prescriptive possibilities of a positive pharmacology.
If nonetheless Plato abandons therapeia in the sense of épimeleia, and with it the dialogical dialogos of the duel, it is because in these questions, it is a matter of the devil («diable»), who will have a great destiny in the West, it is a matter of the diabolic, i.e. of the diabelein which is precisely the problem of the REPUBLIC, that Plato would like to reduce by the dia of the dialectic become the dia of analysis and control, by the dia of discretisation and of the creation of a synchronic order that completely masters the dia – which is not possible.
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