Week 6 – Who? What? The Invention of the Human (more to come…)

This week we asked what exactly Stiegler was trying to achieve by invoking evolutionary theory, and by thinking Leroi-Gourhan and Rousseau with and, critically, against each other. Again we wondered exactly where Stiegler’s own voice was here – particularly considering that much of the chapter seems to restate the Derridean project (via the concept of differance but also in its stress on dissolving the animal/human barrier) but not always explicitly. Especially where the science is a bit dodgy (to say the least!), we tried to prise apart the general principles which seemed, nonetheless, to inhere. There will be more to say on some of these questions in the coming week…

Meanwhile, we might also like to look at Derrida’s The Animal That Therefore I Am which has multiple resonances with this section. See Google Books for the full text and this article for just the first (most relevant) section – I have a PDF of this if you do not have access.

Chris writes:

The question of a working definition of Gramme arose. I have “material trace of play of force” written in my notes, but see the section titled “Science and the Name of Man” in Chapter 3, Part 1 of “Of Grammatology” for more on how Derrida develops this term from Leroi-Gourhan.

Central focus of this section seemed to be laying a groundwork for understanding the passage from epigenesis to epiphylogenesis. The latter term describing the technical and therefore necessarily collective individuation (physical and psychical) of subjects… but the definition is going to become more nuanced over pretty much the rest of the book as far as I can tell.

Stiegler’s issues with his pet monkey (or the monkey’s issues with B.S. and his family) [as related in a Goldsmiths lecture, Stiegler once had a pet monkey but had to get rid of it when it ‘fell in love’ with him and became aggressive to the female members of the family] raise questions as to what degree different species can actually engage affectively: at what point does “engagement” become “simulation” due to actual, biophysical differences in development? In this connection see p. 140 of the text particularly.

We tried to find a working definition of “anterior field”. This is a term with definite, but qualified, meanings in anatomy (e.g. anterior heart field; anterior auditory field (neuro-anatomy)), L-G seems to use in a more general and evolutionary sense to mean a function of an evolved mode of physical orientation. See here (particularly page 4):

http://acc2001myblog.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/wk-2.pdf

and maybe: http://voiceimitator.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/andre-leroi-gourhan-gesture-and-speech.html

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