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Biopolitics

Bernard Stiegler writes that externalized knowledge — knowledge that is ‘outside’ of us and that we learn through books or institutions, for example — has historically been made possible through the use of the artificial, technical tool.

Through accumulated mnemotechnics, powers accumulate that eventually cultivate forms of knowledge like the sciences.

The functions of these sciences “evolve with the biopolitical evolution of these powers”. I have been trying to think of what he means by “biopolitics”, since the book he was writing that explains this has yet to come out, posthumously — and I wonder if he had completed it.

But I have read enough of his work to have ideas of where to look. For example, if he references the prefix “bio-”, he does not mean its more modern connotation but to distill the essence of this word’s etymology, which is to say, the full trace of its meaning, including the historical. I have traced other meanings of “biopolitics” through his works, and interestingly, they are also historical.

This evening, I returned to my Middle Liddell to contemplate the meaning and usages of βίος. I didn’t take a picture of that, but here is a screenshot of Woodhouse’s English-Greek entry, thanks to the University of Chicago, of what “live” means. It is very suggestive. (Better resolution at the link.)

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