Bernard Stiegler and the fate of aesthetic performance in the time of digital media

Ling, Tai (2020). Bernard Stiegler and the fate of aesthetic performance in the time of digital media. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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My thesis concerns the fate of the spiritual capacities of human beings in the time of digital media systems in relation to the work of Bernard Stiegler. Stiegler’s framing of the problem is situated within his ambigious, or pharmacological, approach to technology, in which it is simultaneously poison and cure. It is also founded on his notion of ‘originary technicity’, in which humanity and technology ‘invent’ each other. Both avoid a reductive reading of human-technological relations.

Stiegler’s account of subjectivity is one founded on the linguistic, philosophical and sociological notions of agency whereby the self is conceived as a performance within the symbolic and aesthetic order of culture. This performance necessitates a public stage akin to that of the Greek tragic age that allows its audience to reflect upon and question their society in order for the society to remain ethically reflexive. Yet, the growth of mass culture and global consumerism threatens this reflexivity and must be recovered. The generalized proletarianization of the consumer age is one that compromises the acting out of spirit due to the exhaustion of human drives. Furthermore, the social fabric, as with the fabric of the self, is a composition of tendencies, a ‘weaving’ of social bonds that is created by society and its individuals. Therefore, as with the reflexive public stage, society must have the requisite knowledge and ability to interpret and create this production of the social. In a digital age, this must now be a society of ‘image-readers’.

By looking at Stiegler’s theorizing of a new contributive economy, I examine the elevating possibilities that can come out of the disindividuating processes of hyper-industrial, consumer-driven technology, and, therefore, what spiritually expressive and transformative performances of self, and society, digital media enable. I argue the aesthetic performance of the self must be one in which the individual is an amateur artist aware of the reflexive social stage that digital platforms provide.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)


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