The Neganthropocene, which is available to download for free, is a collection of the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler’s recent writings. New readers are helped into this philosophical landscape via the thorough introduction by the translator Daniel Ross, who is part of the growing environment of activists and intellectuals surrounding Stiegler. Both of them are part of the organisation Institut de recherche et d’innovation (IRI) – an institute for research and innovation with offices at Centre Pompidou in Paris, as well as Ars Industrialis that presents itself as an «international organisation for industrial politics of spirit».
The appealing nature of Stiegler’s work, which includes more than 30 books, lies in his original combination of a philosophy of technology with a strong existential impulse. His philosophical impetus came as he served a jail sentence for armed robbery. In the solitude of the cell, he came to realisation that thought, language and writing were essentially technologies or techniques that connected him to the world.
«Man has done nothing but blithely break down billions of structures and reduce them to a state in which they are no longer capable of integration.» Claude Lévi-Strauss
Thus, his care for his own mental and emotional development was intimately bound up with the laborious development of culture and the human collective. Philosophy became a way out of isolation and mortal indifference, where life is lived carelessly as if it had no real value, what Nietzsche calls nihilism.
A central argument in The Neganthropocene is that the world is at risk of lapsing into such a nihilistic state as our failure to care for it becomes ever more manifest. Nihilism is no longer a mere mental state, but a structural disorder of our economical and technological civilization.
The destructive sides of civilisation
Entropy, a key concept in the book, can be conceived of as a movement from order to disorder, where energy is consumed and lost in the process – similar to what happens in a combustion engine. Irreversible deterioration of this kind invites a rather bleak vision of the world: All processes in the universe move toward heat-death – a spent state devoid of potential.
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