Toward an Embodied Pharmakological Path

06/10/2023, My synthetic analysis, take / projection of the current global noologic (related to the study of the mind or the way we think) situation. A standpoint. From a thread initially published on my Twitter account, so it is a very condensed expression.

“It is an hypomnemata (a techniques of memory whose meaning Foucault analyzed as techniques of “self-writing”), like my “brain“.” – Soto².

Since my arrival on TW six months ago, I have been confirming (converging with many bright people), that we can agree now without catastrophism that we are very likely in what could be called a “systemic meta-crisis” (climate, energy, bio-ecology, politics, meaning, attention…) sign of a major (western) civilizational transition.

We are all together, with you, looking to understand and find adequate resolutions. But this is a deep and complex subject and rushing too much on easy obvious takes won’t be the solution, at the risk of making more bad than good. We leave in a time when words meaning, this crystalized common wisdom legacy, is on the verge of being rogued by limited and eager interests, spoiling our precious common noospace (See Michel Bauwens work about the “commons” transition) .

From my own analysis (Scybernethics): roughly, our growing civilization has conquered it’s stability and well-being, the “progress”, in the last two thousand years with in an expanding movement linking materialist objectivist abstraction (“science”) and technologies, a crucial subject nowadays, but also an epistemological blind-spot. Technologies are not values neutral (Zak Stein). At the heart of this progress lye the “mechanical thinking“. We are immersed in a thinking styles battle, a cognitive peaceful fight.

But we have now reached a personal and collective limit and what was virtuous, in it’s excess, is now becoming a deadly poison. We are at the end of an extractive economy cycle who’s last frontier, after others cultures, nature, and our own body gestures (industrial machines) is today, in the digital age, capturing and exploiting our intimate cognitives abilities and cognitive inner gestures. Memory, reasoning, language, attention, desire… It’s ultimate target, what is presently lacking in the golem-machine, is now our most intimate creative sense and meaning-making competences. Understanding is now becoming paramount.

So what to do? It is a pharmakological (Bernard Stiegler) question: how to heal this collective madness which has also it’s deep historical roots in us, as in the background and implicitly, this historical trajectory has also been the constitution of our modern “self”, of our self-perception as somehow “free individuals” separated from nature? This is the key paradox that we must face, without loosing our mind, without loosing our heart, without loosing our soul. How to remember what has been lost in these techno-scientific cuts and shifts, the precious wisdom knowing, and being able to transition together by the top without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, which would be equally catastrophic; indeed everyone is confronted today with maddening psychological paradoxes and double binds (Bateson) which seems to annihilate our reflection towards more and more action. But action without understanding is vain as understanding without action is also sterile (the proof in the pudding!).

I hear many voices asking, like a noble incantation, for a collective transcendence. And no doubt, we have been socially and technologically atomized, divided, analysed and urged to face our own present solitude in the multiplicity, the more cruelly than we are legitimately refusing to participate to this no-more-human global dynamic. So better coordination and cooperation is a requirement, without forgetting that it is also our differences and differAnces which enrich us.

But the real question is how did we drift into this vulnerable state? Without understanding we will be condemned to repeat the past. And naming scapegoats doesn’t seem really deep to me. We also need to reach inside and remember how much all human beings and becoming, and more generally all living creatures, shares so much more than they differs. Any of us won’t be here without others, our parents, our friends, our feeding. This is the heart path which open.

But collectivity, even if it can become virtuous and generate emancipatory emergences beyond the individuals who compose it, has no body. The “social body”, from a personal and pragmatic perspective is precious but seems intellectually an abstract creation, not an a priori for our modern self, and a renewed and regenerated democratic institutional “organology” (Greek organon ‘instrument’ and logos, Stiegler) is required. More, the historical coherence is being destroyed by time-shifting synchronizing technologies and propaganda (Cf. Fukuyama), at the risk of irrational and gregarious emotional contagions. Our integrative and metaphorical “rational social body” need, like ourselves, the slow coherence and consistence of the socio-historical fabric to regenerate our collective rationality, that is to say social meaning. Not only cognitive, we are also immersed in a temporal fight.

Since social and personal meanings are deeply entangled, in a bottom-up style which should compose with its top-down counterpart, I think that it is our responsibility now that each one of us share it’s own honey after having patiently reflected and weight it’s thinking with the alder of tradition: we should never forget that we are also standing on the shoulders of giants and it would be stupid madness not to use the keys they bequeathed to us, sometimes at the heavy price of many sacrifices. But we should be pertinent as there is too much noise which drown out relevant voices. The necessary normative social truth feeds on intelligent diversity, not on an impulsive hubbub.

My own answer is to try to empower others with thinking and pragmatic tools, based on my life-work experience:

  1. To awaken to the illegitimate drift of the modern meaning of certain words, our common tools of critical thought, and to incite etymological inquiry to find the common wisdom encapsulated in them, such as: “intelligence” (really meaning “understanding”, which machines lack completely), or even technological disembodied “information” (whose etymological sense means “is what gives shape to the mind”). To create or promote “new” words as thinking weapons: technopolitics and algorithmic governementality, noopolitics, techno proletarianization and cognitarianization, techgnosis, and of course scybernethics.
  2. Understanding scientific ways of thinking (cognition and epistemology) but also our own cognitive and psychological limits, because I am convinced that it is also the awareness of limits that opens the way to transcendence. We need to think, and we can’t think without others.
  3. Inviting to de-construct (meaning understanding, not at all destructing) historically and theoretically (reverse epistemology) the enaction of key concepts and ways of thinking, in the cultural sphere but also by looking at our own thinking processes (reverse self cognitive hacking) based on a second-order enactive and creative phenomenological style (Scybernethics).
  4. Explaining that Technics is a “Pharmakon” (Plato, Stiegler, Derrida, Stengers): something that can heal or poisoned depending on the dosage. But luckily, we are as Nature’s pharmakon and deeply understanding it is also a praxis, a self-transformative practice.
  5. Expliciting as much as I can this critical situation (Cf. the Consilience Project) to avoid destructive excessive polarizations and render it visible, explicit and more intelligible to the community.
  6. To initiate symbolically a technological project (KI-LIFE²) trying to integrate an enactive and second-order conception and design with current LLMs (ChatGPT), AI / Machine Learning / Data Science technologies. But this can’t be concretized and materialized without the help of others (techno-social power limit).
  7. Trying to understand and learn from the dynamical and pragmatical emerging Web3 culture (DAOs, Tokenomics, etc) and being present on a Web3 human-friendly and integrated platform (Common Ground), joining the battle to defeat Moloch.
  8. Generally trying to create virtuous dynamics with like-minded fellows to gain traction, and working on myself to try to be a better person.

Brief, coupling and trying modestly to exemplify these two necessary paths, the heart and the knowing one, is for me the way to go toward a possible future and a future rich of possibles, toward the best world I know possible and that we can already love (Cf. Charles Eisenstein).