Kant: The Amateur as Lover

Bernard Stiegler


It is common knowledge that an artwork is at once free of any attachment to its own time (that is, I will claim using a Husserlian term, omnitemporal – rather than atemporal), and at the same time, formed uniquely in, by, and out of its age : Giotto and Leonardo, as well as Duchamp, can only be seen omnitemporally as works of their time—in Duchamp’s case, this was the time of unworkness. Giotto can no more appear in Leonardo’s time than Duchamp could in our time.


But what does the omnitemporality of this “un-artist,” Duchamp, consist of, if it is impossible to love a Duchamp work in which he himself interrogates the nature of work ? How does one become an amateur, a lover, of Duchamp—if not of Duchamp himself ? The lover of Duchamp loves the psychic individuation that, as the un-artistic, he has woven into the collective individuation we ourselves share—of which it is a sedimentary deposit, and as our transindividuated, pre-individual foundation—, the process of an individuation that still trans-individuates us—historically, and as the histos of our age, as what has produced our age, as Giotto and Leonardo did, yet entirely otherwise : otherwise than all other.


An artist is a transductor of individuations, catalyzing and channeling forceslibidinal energies—in a field of collective individuation in which he or she designs the circuits of transindividuation typical to that age, which the artist then “performs,” fabricating it in “saying” it just as in “showing” it—in interpreting it (and at this point it would be necessary to re-open the discussion with Marx). Its performative circuits are thus motifs and monograms (in the kantian sense of this word) of its time.


All psychic individuals participate in the collective individuation constituting an age. But across its works (across the traces of its unworkness), the psychic individual as artist—or un-artist—in some way co-incides with this collective individuation, and this co-incidence is sensational.


Out of the 20th century, as it approached the proletarization of the sensibility, it has become clear that it is impossible to understand the aesthetic life of the noetic beings we are without inscribing it in a genealogy of the sensible, that must be founded on the analysis of the organological becoming of this form of technical life that is the sensational being—the being who can ex-claim a selfhood out of a sensibility noetically ex-pressed through the pre-individual and trans-individual foundation of which it is the inheritor. This ex-clamation presupposes an exteriorization of which gesture and speech are the primary manifestations.


However, this genealogy of the psychosomatic sensible presupposes a characterization of the social processes of transindividuation in which a work can open forth, can work, so that they make possible the organological becoming of respect the technical artefacts of which art is the sublimation.


Only in inscribing a work in circuits of transindividuation from which it emerges, through which it passes, and then only because artifacts themselves pass through it, and in which it creates new circuits, motifs, and monograms by inscribing them there itself arte-factually in time and space—only in this way is it possible to respect it as a work—this word always meaning : insofar as it opens out beyond its time but such that it can only do so out of its time (that is, also, in freeing it, like a sailor who, coming from somewhere, can go somewhere).


The omni-temporality of the work comes from its very temporality—and this is why the work is not “atemporal”: it is omnitemporal in being of its own time, its own age, historical, proto-historical, or pre-historical; it resonates in all time and in all works (projecting what Malraux called “the possible of art”). But it can perpetually and pervasively open and work only if it can find its source and its resources in its own time, and, in some fashion, the proper means for leaving it.


These “means” are always organological.


What, then, are Duchamp’s resources; what is the spring from which he drinks ? What is essential to it is the turning-mechanical of the sensibility of which Nude Descending a Staircase and Fountain are two examples separated by five years, two versions and two examples of the question of technical reproducibility engendering, precisely at that time, the loss of instrumental aesthetic knowledge, as it ruins the trade of workers and the practices of art-lovers, where it is no longer necessary either to know how to read nor to play music, nor to copy works; where literature is no longer either novel of maturation nor an operator of a life-trans-formation, not an art of living as culture and technique of self-formation, but the object and function of consumption—of the organization of consumption of all industrial production through seizing control of the organization of the sensible, as much as the cultural consummation of works themselves in a time of unworkness.




The proletarization of the receiver required by the new economic function of the aesthetic—which is also taking place in the cognitive field—has resulted in a generalization of what Hannah Arendt described as cultivated philistinism, which has become typical of our era. It is already what Duchamp was critiquing, and it is what returned with Andy Warhol and the age of mass media; that is, in an age that is more ripe to receive the lesson of the kind of consumerist experience now well-established and rapidly becoming planetary through the expansion of television, but also in the increasing distancing and forgetting of Dada by Pop culture.


How is an individuation possible when all knowledges are transmitted by machines? Wanting to “be a machine” is to be hit by the ultimate articulation of this limit question. [1] In my view, we are living in an age of a new mechanical turn of sensibility, the digital – that is at once the culmination of a mass media that dies in a movement of regression organized at a global and industrial level and in which the transitional object becomes monstrous and pathetic – ,  but we are encountering a new age of care in which the amateur will be the exemplary figure—traversing, as such, the field of contemporary art, producing exhibitions such as “Amateurs,” organized by Ralf Ruggof at the Wallis Institute in San Francisco, or “Enthusiasts,” organized by Neil Cummings and Marysa Landowska at Chelsea College, London, or the installation by Michel Gondry at the Pompidou Center in Paris.


This new epoch is the opening of a new organological age that re-defines amateurs as practitioners as well as critics. But the practitioner of art is first of all a critic, if it is true that to practice is to discern. This is why we must try to understand what the past, the present, and the future of the amateur actually is—that is, to understand the connection between critique and desire, if it is true that “amateur” derives from “amat,” to love.


I will begin with this last question, and I will enter into it with Kant—and we will see why he necessarily directs us to the second question, of the amateur as lover.




Insofar as the amateur is taken seriously, as designating it as a way of individuating, the figure of the amateur is precisely what Kantian analysis cannot allow to be thoughtany more than it allows the thought of the historical conditions for critique or the faculty of judgement as a critical faculty formed through familiarity with works that themselves presuppose critique.


In my previous talk I addressed the faculty of aesthetic judgement, as conceived by Kant, as a judgement of universal taste, but such that it is universal by default. Let us reconsider this analysis. In judging the beautiful, I am obliged :


  1. to posit, in principle, that everyone should judge as I do, since what can appear as beautiful to me can only do so if it is universally beautiful (universality is an essential predicate for beauty), without which I am no longer faced with the beautiful but with the pleasant and agreeable;


  1. to state that, factually, on the one hand, everyone may not agree with me in my judgement, but above all, on the other hand, I can neither in fact nor in law prove its universality: I am obliged to state that the aesthetic experience itself constitutes an irreducible discrepancy and de-phasing —and thus a necessary default.


Such a judgement is universal only through this default in which, as universal law, it is condemned to remain in fact “diversal,[2] so to speak—and not merely never to produce universal agreement, but never to be able to require, since it basically judges the necessity of such a discrepancy and de-phasing as a condition of psychic and collective individuation; a more contemporary name for this discrepancy is singularity.


If a reflective judgement such as this is not a determinant judgement, if it tends to universalization—if it is in some way potentially universalwithout being able actually to be universalized, if it can never be accomplished definitively in the ultimate plenitude of its judgemental act, it is because remaining thus, always unachieved, and thus to come, it opens out the promise of a circuit of infinite transindividuation (and omnitemporal precisely because of that.


It is within the context of such an incompleteness giving access to such an infinite, and as irreducible mystery, that any work is at work : thus it works and is opened as work. Thus at the very moment when it initially gives itself to us, as evidence of its entirety, it overtakes us in exceeding itself. And this is why Kant can write that


We linger in the contemplation of the beautiful, since this contemplation fortifies and reproduces itself.


But we will see that since Kant does not specify the beautiful here such that it moves toward what is opened there as art (the beautiful here designating nature as art), he can no longer think artistic judgement as trans-formation of the one who judges by what he judges—as “trans-individuation” in that sense.


Even if he does not ignore the question of history, art for Kant still has no history : it is not the process of individuation that is the history of art, and that Hegel will be able to think only by postulating its end as the eradicator of History—in the blind prescience of a modernity that will reverse, with Baudelaire and his epokhality, this phenomenology of the historic forms of art.


The aesthetic judgement thought by and with Kant is, with regard to art, an exquisite and special sort of belief—and, in this case, of belief in a universal (not of knowledge, properly speaking) that is encountered even though it does not in fact exist, if “exist” (as capable of being encountered in space and time) means what can be the object of a determinant judgement, and can thus be calculated.


But then the Kantian question of aesthetic judgement would in fact leave the critique without a voice : with no other form of expression than an exclamation, and thus also without argument—not to mention: without discernment, without critique, and without judgement, in the Greek sense of krinon. This transcendental critique of judgement would make impossible an analytical and empirical critique of works, of the time of works, and thus of the history of art. We will see that in a way this is what Konrad Fiedler reproaches Kant with at the end of the 19th century.[3]




In order to move forward through these questions, my thesis will be a double one :

  1. It will propose, on the one hand, that a judgement without argumentation is not a judgement, and that what Kant speaks of is thus perhaps not at all a judgement but the first moment of a process, requiring a second moment.[4]


  1. It will propose, on the other hand, that an argument is what historically supports a judgement, and that this support is itself inscribed in the organological becoming constituting the fabric and the tissue (histos) of the history of art (tekhnē), as a projection of motifs onto this fabric.


In the age of the second mechanical turn in sensibility, which opens the perspective of a process of deproletarization, that is, a new age of care, it becomes vital to study organologically the histories of the faculty of judgement in the aesthetic domain.


On the contrary, from such a viewpoint the faculty of judgement, conceived by Kant as tendentiously universal judgement, is at the same time tendentiously a-historical, as a result of this fact still part of a quite metaphysical age of aesthetic philosophy—a remark that still leaves intact the extraordinary evidence that this theory of judgement as reflectively open to the undetermined. What Kant wishes to establish is an ante-historical (transcendental) form of the faculty of judgement, one that simultaneously neutralizes the organologico-empirical givens that permit the constitution of a judgement as its historical support.


In a well-known paragraph of the “Analytic of the Sublime,” Kant concerns himself directly with theories of art :


If anyone reads me his poem, or brings me to a play, which, all said and done, fails to commend itself to my taste, then let him adduce Batteux or Lessing, or still older and more famous critics of taste, with all the host of rules laid down by them, as a proof of the beauty of his poem; let certain passages particularly displeasing to me accord completely with the rules of beauty, (as set out by these critics and universally recognized): I stop my ears: I do not want to hear any reasons or any arguing about the matter. I would prefer to suppose that those rules of the critics were at fault, or at least have no application, than to allow my judgement to be determined by a priori proofs. I take my stand on the ground that my judgement is to be one of taste, and not one of understanding or reason.[5]


The problem posed by this excerpt from the Critique of Judgement, re-affirming the impossibility of constituting a science of the beautiful (a science being that which allows judgements to be “determined by a priori proofs”), and that thus re-affirms the fundamental liberty in which aesthetic judgement is exercised, is due to the fact that it simultaneously excludes the possibility that taste could be the fruit of training, of a formation—and in fact, of a formation of attention.[6]


Consequently,  it is as if my taste could not change. Or, in other words, the Kantian subject of the judgement of taste is not trans-formed by his judgements : he is not individuated by it and, in judging, he does not trans-individuate (himself). But contrary to what the Kantian analysis finally infers in rendering the moment of critical analysis, without which there cannot really be judgement, judgement must be understood properly as a circuit of transindividuation, consisting of three moments :


  • that of apprehensive synthesis presenting itself as sur-prehensive,


  • that of comprehensive analysis (that is also systematized with the synthesis of reproduction in the Critique of Pure Reason),


  • and that of intensified re-synthesis as sur-prehension, through its comprehensive and analytic moment, and as the re-initiation of the process by which judgement becomes an individuation (and that is systematized with the synthesis that Kant claims to be that of recognition).


It would obviously be vital to articulate these three moments that are linked to three synthesis of the imagination with the question of the schematism that emerges from it in the Critique of Pure Reason.[7]




The argument—that is to say, finally, the critique—such that it can be constituted only by passing through an analytic moment, finds itself a priori excluded from the Kantian aesthetic judgement—and it is this dogmatic position that here founds the transcendental definition of the judgement of taste.


This is certainly not what Kant says, stricto senso : he simply states that this judgement cannot be determined by rules, since it is the reflective sense of judgement that leaves the object of judgement in its constitutive indetermination. The result is nonetheless de facto that taste as a faculty that could be the object of a training, of an education, and would have from this fact been connected to the intellect, is excluded from the thinking of the judgement of taste, which is always a reflective judgement.


Fully-achieved [8] aesthetic judgement is that of the amateur, the devotee who is also, as an artist, a distinguished agent of transindividuation : it is the judgement of the one who judges out of a frequenting of works, who remains near works, who returns to them, who lingers there, as Kant says regarding the beautiful, who awaits something of a reiteration, of a repetition of their presentation—and who knows, at base and before all else, that a work never returns identically : that it is open, undetermined, unfinished. That it is the very experience of this discrepancy and de-phasing that is individuation.


The amateur’s judgement is a process that always contains three moments :


  1. The moment of synthetic judgement, in the course of which the judger apprehends the unity of what he judges, but where this apprehension is produced as the experience and the test of a surprise that is the moment of sur-prehension; that is, of the overtaking of the one who judges by what he judges, and that exceeds it in its very default.


  1. 2. The moment of analytic judgement, which necessarily comes after the synthetic moment, and that tends to make sur-prehension, produced by synthetic apprehension (sur-prehension that occurs only when the work works through effects, that it trans-forms the judger), an object of comprehension; that is, of analytic apprehension, of appreciation, and thus of a determination that can no longer form the unity of all, but on the contrary to break it into parts, and in order to understand how, why, and for whom these parts form a unity in the mind of the judger, and to appear to him thus to be entirely sur-prising and therefore a motif of exclamations.


  1. 3. The moment of return to the work and of its spectrality—of the increased and différant repetition of the moment of sur-prehension, its différenace as hauntology, and with it, of the default that exceeds analysis and that just as easily—and interminably—re-initiates necessity : this impossibility of finishing, of putting an end to the circuit, that is transindividuation, and that most of the time works through encounters with other amateurs and other works, is at once the source of the omnitemporality of works and the concretization of the indetermination of Kantian aesthetic judgement, but here, precisely, as process of individuation working through its analytic—that is, its critical—moment, that is also a crisis-moment.


The analytic moment can never exhaust the synthetic moment : the comprehensive apprehension of the work acts as a support for judgement, but never demonstrates it. These analytic supports for synthetic judgement, which are also the crutches for one who, judging a work that has been trans-formed—that is, opened—wants to argue around these congeners—this argumentation being part of the process by which the work works—, these supports, thus, can never be constituted in demonstrative proofs.


It remains nonetheless that they constitute the arguments over what the work is about, and about the way in which it can create the conditions through which a sur-prehension that remains, however, irreducible to these specific conditions, is produced, and that thus constitutes a testsomething that can be tested without even being able to be proven.


There is sur-prehension because in aesthetic experience, the one who judges by forming the unity of the object of judgement discovers in it an incommensurable : an incomparable singularity, a pure originaritythat is the beginning of a neg-entropic circuit. We have seen that because the object of aesthetic judgement is here structurally incommensurable and thus incomparable, critique remains, in some way, irreducible, grounded in this act of belief formed in the moment of sur-prehension : it appears to the judger that his object is not on the same plane as other objects—it has become literally extra-ordinary.


And yet it is not an object of faith, since this extra-ordinary can only emerge from the ordinary – and here I continue to answer Pr Gao’s question


If it is true that there is in the analytic enterprise something that tends toward a determination (in the strict sense this word has in the case of a determinant judgement, namely : capable of producing demonstrative statements and apodictic utterances, but also (and more generally) capable of subsuming beneath concepts—beneath categories), what the aesthetic analysis tends toward is not, properly speaking, a determinationeven when, for example, it declares that a given work is part of a particular artistic genealogy. It tends toward what also constitutes a condition of determination, but that does not lead, here, to a specific determination : it tends toward a comparison—to a commensurability established among various elements and relations among these elements, and that one seeks to describe. These relations are precisely the supports about which I have just spoken.


If there is a sur-prehension, it is because what is to be judged is singular and consequently not subsumable into a concept : that is, as Kant says, into an end[9]—that could well also be a finality constituted a priori, as the possibility of completion. This is why Kant can speak of “purposiveness without purpose,” without a rule.


The work, and generally all objects judged as beautiful, in that it tends toward its perfection for the subject it impresses as beautiful, thus indicates its own end, which is translated into the subject/judger as a feeling of pleasure. But this end is not subsumable into a concept: it is not determinable. As affect, it is what the subject projects and reflects in and through the object : it is a reflective finality with no rule that could be given in a concept – and as such, it is irreducibily neg-entropic. It is the finality of the irregular, irregularity itself: the finality of a default (of rules), and of a necessary default—precisely as finality.


Although Kant does not think this singularity as such, and because he does not distinguish the singular from the particular, he indicates through the notion of purposiveness without purpose that at the source of all “rules for art” there is an irreducible irregularity that is the singular, as the agent of all sur-prehension. The synthetic moment is that sur-prehension—indeterminable and interminable, thereby constituting a moment of “belief”—, and the analytic moment is that of comprehension, and thus, of argumentation, but that is neither a demonstration, nor a determination.


Rather than a determination, the analytic moment is a movement of the increase of indetermination: it is the movement by which the object is in-determined, the movement of an intensification of singularity through the operations of comparison and commensuration that finally always turn out to be insufficient and impossible—operations at the limit, by which sur-prehension lingers around its object that it thus attempts to understand comprehensively, and that it in some way puts to the test of its incomparability through a series of comparisons that reveal and define it by default.


The analytic moment is the transformation of the exclamation that provokes sur-prehension—as a breakthrough, as a hole in the stoppered horizon that is the realm of immanence—in arguments regarding what supports the synthetic moment. These arguments open up, properly speaking, the circuit of transindividuation as forces: this circuit makes sur-prehension circulate through effects on and in amateurs and between amateurs (most notably through operations of comparison and commensuration).


This circulation, at the core of which what Wolfgang Iser describes as an aesthetic effect are formed, is the structuration of a collective individuation through internal resonance – in the sense of Simondon. But such a transformation is also what, in trans-forming the subject of these operations himself (and his experience of sur-prehension), re-directs him to the experience of a redoubled sur-prehension: to a new surprise, a new synthesis, emerging as difference even to its repetition—and as repetition of the unity of the object thus synthesized.


This synthetic moment, differentiated in the course of these associations that are the art-lover’s (the art-amateur’s) practices, as repetitions, is what could happen to me, and what could and even must happen to others, in historically-given conditions, but that can also not happen to others and in those same historical conditions. In fact, these conditions are historical only insofar as they are dynamic (that is, polemical), because they are constituted through a default (at the origin). Thus it is a question of conditions of crisis. And this is because judgement in general (krinon) is essentially a crisis (krisis).

It will be singularly, then, in aesthetic judgement, to the extent to which it affectively trans-forms the judger, a transformation that is always a sort of crisis-as-affect, as e-motion and thus movement out of crisis: decision, through which the judge becomes what he is, for speaking with Nietzsche quoting Pindarre.


However, Kantian critique does not account for this critical dimension of the crisis (the artistic modality of transindividuation), even where it posits a critique of the faculty of judgement: because the aesthetic subject is not transformed, the critique of the faculty of judgement does not allow the thought of the faculty of judgement as critique. In this sense, the Kantian aesthetic subject is still not modern—in the sense in which we speak of modern art.


The necessary critique of the Critique of Judgement must not, however, make us lose sight of the fact that what Kant conquers quite decisively—namely that there is in the experience of synthesis a test of the im-probable that projects the judger onto the plane of a consistent in-existence in which the object of judgement is always presented as universal by rights, and never in fact; that is, as an object made essentially of default: as object of desire.


In this regard, if we could say that the subject judging aesthetically is a projector of infinity, we must say now that an aesthetic object is a projector of consistencies—the projector of infinity bringing to the projector of consistencies its libidinal energy (as the ability to sublimate).


The difference between the synthetic and the analytic—and of what is given in this difference itself; that is, precisely insofar as it is a différance—is irreducible; but the gap itself can be reduced: it if cannot be eliminated, it can be diminished—and this, with the very paradoxical result that the more one knows about the comprehensible conditions of sur-prehension, the more this sur-prehension is intensified: the more the gap is reduced, the more the abyss is expanded (and the emotion it evokes, which is the sum of the affect at the very moment in which the analysis seems to temporarily dis-affect the subject of the sur-prehension through comprehension) between these two moments of judgement, as if, to the extent that the edges [lèvres] approach each other, the bottom of the abyss became increasingly immense and incommensurable: sublime.


In its essential negativity, the structure of the Kantian sublime already contains the Freudian question of sublimation. The judgement of the beautiful is the experience of an improbable of which the judgement of the sublime reveals the paradoxical economy (as the economy of default), namely that this judgement is improbable to the extent that its object is produced only as infinity, and that this infinity, as incommensurability, is what opens the aesthetic subject on the sublumatory plane of what Kant calls the suprasensible. Such an opening, as an elevation from—and at the heart ofimmanence, is sublimation, properly speaking.


The object of desire is very generally and structurally an object that does not exist: it is an object intrinsically infinite. It is on the basis of this matrix that at the synthetic moment of aesthetic judgement, we encounter (as sur-prehension) the consistency of what does not exist, and whose non-being can, for example, be presented and appear as beauty itself—as presence itself. In analytic judgement, it is a question of establishing—comprehensively—that this consistency of what does not exist is nonetheless a consistency in immanence: in the comprehensible, and from the comprehensible, which is also to say from and in what exists. This consistency is not what returns to a transcendence : this is not an object of faith, nor one of piety. But it is an object of belief—and even the object of a mystery, and of a cult, which thus constitutes “culture.”


Aesthetic judgement, as simultaneously synthetic and analytic, is therefore intrinsically mystagogic. This means that aesthetic experience in which aesthetic experience is formed on the basis of an exclamation that leaves the subject staggered, mouth agape, is a sort of initiation into mystery, and to an aesthetic, trans-formative mystery: precisely as this mystery is transformative to anyone to whom the mystery happens by surprise, very improbably, and where the analysis is a moment in this initiation, a second time—the moment of effective reflection, as the time of reflection in reflective judgement, but that is redirected to mystery as the repetition of the surprise that differs in this différance, which is a circuit of transindividuation.


If what is produced with the sur-prehensive synthesis is of the order of consistency, what comprehensively supports this synthesis is, however, of the order of existence. This existence, which supports consistency only by default, this propping up constituted through the rules of art, through technics, through the mechanisms of the device or the materials (including mechanisms of transindividuation in the age of the ready-made), is also what participates in the individuation of the history of art—like the faculty of judgement, thus constituting histories of arts, of their work, and judgements made of them: the histories (critiques) of the faculty of judgement.


The surprise within the surprise is that in passing through the comprehensive, the propping up that would want to clarify the mystery reinforces itexcept if the object finally gives way to a negative judgement (or if the critique is badly done).


The more the consistency is supported, the more it consists in distinguishing itself from its support. Mystery and its underpinnings result from the dehiscence opened out by technics as becoming and as ex-perience (experience requires the technical exteriorization that itself opens the possibility of existence beyond mere subsistance). But such a dehiscence is possible only because the object of desire is constituted by technicity: it supports a libidinal economy—whose consistencies are the objects reflectively projected on the plane of the extra-ordinary out of ordinary objects and onto these objects themselves. This economy is essentially what constitutes the desiring (that is reflecting, suprasensible) subject’s ability to sublimate.


Critique can and must establish the technical support for such a consistency. And this technical support is then what constitutes the amateur, as the figure of desire par excellence: the one who loves. As himself a critic, the amateur is not precisely a consumer: he discerns, he is capable of moving—at least has the power to do so—to a state of synthetic sur-prehension consisting of the state of analytic comprehension where that exists—and where that insists as difference in repetition.


It is out of this possibility that the amateur is able to exchange with others—precisely those with whom he shares a being-together constructed by philia, which at the same time opens a public space and time that are the exact opposite of an audience: this is a critical space and a critical time, a space and time of individuation (of psycho-social trans-formation) insofar as it is operated through “quantum leaps,”[10] crises in which space and time are un-determined and in-finite through that very fact.


The time when those whom Hannah Arendt calls “cultured philistines” appeared is also the one in which, at the time of [Proust’s] Madame Verdurin, when Dadaism fought against them, provided the foundations for a new mystagogical epoque that would lead, at the very heart of modern art, to what we today conceive of as contemporary art. Philistinism


that consists simply of being ‘uncultivated’ and ordinary was very rapidly succeeded by a different evolution in which, on the contrary, society began to be interested only in pretended cultural values. Society began to monopolize ‘culture’ for its own ends, such as social status and quality. This, in close connection with the socially-inferior position of the middle classes in Europe, which found themselves—since they had the necessary money and free time—locked in a struggle with the aristocracy and its contempt for vulgarity of simple wage-earners.[11]


We should note here in passing that in this long history of social circuits of transindividuation, the opening of the era of philistinism saw a conflict between the “commoner” Diderot with Count Anne-Claude de Caylus that could be called a quarrel of amateurs—I will return to this in my next and last presentation.


Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is the dramatizing of the consequences of this conflict, precisely at the moment when Dada and Duchamp, as well as James Joyce, came on the scene, a little more than a century after the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Today, at the beginning of the next century, the current buzz leads to  aVerdurinian life-style and “recruits in every layer of the population,” to borrow an expression Marx and Engels use to define their concept of proletarization.[12]


Conversely to this philistinism, whether it be cultured or uncultured, in the exchange it attempts to install at the center of the circles by which it initiates collective being (by initiating it into the mysteries of its passion), the amateur, to the extent that he is not mystified (gregariously and regressively) by the mystagogic experience of the object of his desire, and who as a result knows and tests a crisis (is trans-formed)—the crisis through which a work opens—, the amateur, then, experiences:

  1. the impossibility of proving that the work in fact opens out;
  2. the impossibility of supporting —against mystifiers of all varieties—what is then a test, and one that must be carried without ever being able to be proven—and then of being shared.


The destiny of a work is precisely to assemble a public within the very feeling of this necessary default, and to make it a valued part of the organologically over-determined historical process itself.



[1] I have attempted to lay out what here constitutes a limit in “Pharmacology of the Question,” in Ce qui fait que la vie vaut la peine d’être vécue. De la pharmacologie [What Makes Life Worth the Pain of Living. Of Pharmacology]. Flammarion, 2010.

[2] “Diversality” is also a concept employed by Patrick Chamoiseau.

[3] I owe this reference to Jacqueline Lichtenstein, to whom I offer many thanks (cf. www.iri. . . )

[4] Georges Didi Huberman, who does not write within the Kantian tradition, and certainly not (or even less) within the Neo-Kantian heritage, and who fundamentally influenced Panofsky, . . . is equally opposed to this heritage in which, according to Huberman, he posits a kind of analytic moment (Huberman calls it a knowledge) before what I believe to be the typical synthetic moment of Kantian judgement. But I believe that however  and even admirable this position might be, it presciently neglects the fact that there are always not only two moments but three—and that this then forms a process of transformation : of individuation.

[5] §33, “The Analytic of the Sublime,” in The Critique of Judgement. James Creed Meredith translation.

[6] The aesthetic whose principles I am outlining here is a particular case of the theory of attentional forms I put forward in Do You Want to Be My Friend? Aimer, s’aimer, nous aimer. From 21 April 2002 to 22 April 2012, forthcoming from Flammarion.

[7] The question of schema always has behind it the figure we visit in Henry James’s “The Figure in the Carpet.”

[8] I will specify the sense of this qualifier below, p. . . .

[9] The concept of an object is its end to the extent that it is also its a priori cause.

[10] . . .

[11] 259.

[12] Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party.








主讲人:Bernard Stiegler (贝尔纳·斯蒂格勒)

时间:3月1日14:00 – 16:00、3月2日18:00 – 20:00、3月3日14:00 – 16:00、3月4日14:00 – 16:00

地点:中国美术学院南山校区4号楼408/第五场3月5日地点 南山校区学术报告厅








3月1日14:00 – 16:00


3月2日18:00 – 20:00


3月3日14:00 – 16:00


3月4日14:00 – 16:00

第四场:我的电影理论:以Abbas Kiarostami的电影Close Up为例

3月5日18:00 — 20:00