Translator’s introduction to Bernard Stiegler’s ‘pharmacology of desire: drive-based capitalism and libidinal dis-economy’ (New Formations 72, Winter 2010)

Author: Daniel Ross

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Format: Article

Publication date: July 1, 2011

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Daniel Ross

Understanding Stiegler’s attempt to marry psychoanalysis and economics requires rethinking the relation of need and desire, not only theoretically but in terms of the material composition and decomposition of these in the history of capitalism. Stiegler shows via Husserl that desire is inherently connected to the selection inherent in perception, that is, that it inherently involves the question of knowledge. This leads him to rethink the Platonic opposition of appearance and idea in terms of the distinction between existence and consistence, and in turn to understand these in relation to the distinction between life as subsistence and as existence. The problem of desire today can then be grasped as the calculated reduction of life to the finitude of the drives rather than the infinity and singularity of desire.

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