Max Weber famously argued that the rise of capitalism in early modern Europe was premised on the emergence of a distinctive set of attitudes - including the pursuit of profit for its own sake - which he called the spirit of capitalism . Today, when capitalism has spread across the globe, the spirit of capitalism would appear to reign supreme.
In this important book Bernard Stiegler takes a very different view: what we are witnessing today is not the triumph of the spirit of capitalism but rather its demise, as our contemporary hyper-industrial societies become increasingly uncontrollable, profoundly irrational and incapable of inspiring hope. Disenchantment and despair have become the everyday lived experiences of countless individuals. Far from being a moment of liberation, May '68 was just the first symptom of our increasing disenchantment and 'spiritual misery'. The libidinal energy that originally underpinned capitalism has become an unbound force, unleashing drives that can no longer be contained.
Is there an alternative? Stiegler argues that the development of alternatives must begin with a new industrial policy, designed to recognize that technologies are what Plato called pharmaka, meaning both poison and cure. Industrial society has a future only if we can create technologies that foster relations of care (otium) for people whose spirit has been exhausted by contemporary consumerism. We must develop an ecology not only to protect the planet but also to renew the exploited energies of human desire.
This volume - the third in a trilogy that includes
The Decadence of Industrial Democracies and
Uncontrollable Societies of Disaffected Individuals - will consolidate Stiegler's reputation as one of the most original philosophers and cultural theorists of our time.
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.
Introduction I. Sociopathology of 1968 1. The paradox of the super-ego in the transformations of capitalism 2. The question of spirit is that of the we 3. Knowledge and the super-ego: towards a new spirit of capitalism 4. Technicity, hostility to civilization, and the intermittency of noetic action 5. The crisis of capitalism as ideological disarray and as crisis of spirit after May 1968 6. Artistic critique and social critique , or the jargon of authenticity 7. The recuperation of the ideas of 68 by French capitalism and the establishment of control society 8. Digression on the meteorological predictions of the Alaskan Eskimo 9. False problems concerning action 10. Authenticity and singularity: fantasy and the forgetting of what does not exist 11. Supports and relations of production II. The automatization of the super-ego and the passage of desire as original diversion of libidinal energy 12. The historicity of psychoanalytic categories and the illusion of desire as a natural state 13. From psychopathology to sociopathology 14. Contradictions between Marcuse s Marxism and his Freudianism in relation to struggle (eris) against the risk of decomposition. Moving beyond guilt 15. Technics, super-ego and desublimation 16. Processes of adoption and diversions of libido: Marcuse and the tendency of libidinal energy to fall 17. Liberation of instincts , technesis and the passage of desire D the thrust of the knife 18. The murder of the father, the opening of time and guilt, and the instant of my death henceforth always pending 19. Diversions and decompositions 20. The automatization of the super-ego 21. The opposition of Narcissus and Prometheus 22. Ontology and the reality principle 23. Libidinal ecology Conclusion 24. Intoxications, prohibitions, cares 25. The struggle for the life of the spirit 26. Consistence of the health and authority of public power: the freedom of the spirit