14 Matching Annotations
  1. Dec 2019
    1. They call this retribution. Hateful name!

      Retributive justice holds that the correct punishment for a crime balances the wrong, and that punishing wrongdoers deters others from committing similar crimes in the future. Note, however, that Justine is wrongfully executed for the death of William. Shelley thus seems to imply that hasty prosecution, especially for the sake of revenge, might hurt the innocent, thereby creating new injustices.

      At the time of its writing, there was already a concerted reformist effort to do away with the death penalty. For example, as early as 1762, Jean-Jaques Rousseau wrote in The Social Contract that "There is no man so bad that he cannot be made good for something. No man should be put to death, even as an example if he can be left to live without danger to society."

    2. it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses

      The Creature's awakening to consciousness alludes to accounts of consciousness and maturation by John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Locke gives an account of how the mind of a child slowly learns to distinguish the various senses before it can apprehend the world in totu, in Ch. 7 of his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Rousseau's Emile, which Mary recorded having read in 1815, also offers an account contrasting the senses of an adult to the senses of a child.

    3. I am by birth a Genevese

      Born in Geneva, Switzerland, Victor is a potential hero insofar as he embodies the "republican" virtues of Europe's only country, much admired by the Shelleys, which did not have a hereditary monarchy. By making Geneva so central to the novel's cultural geography, Mary Shelley also designates the relation between Victor's ambition and Jean Jacques Rousseau's world-making ambition in Discourse on Inequality (1754) among other works.

    4. the strange system of human society was explained to me

      The passage echoes Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who believed that "human society" corrupts naturally good humans. Like Rousseau's character Emile, the Creature is only slowly introduced to society, beginning good but becoming increasingly menacing.

  2. Nov 2019
    1. In his Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, Rousseau, anticipating the language of Darwin, states that as the animal-like human species increased there arose a "formidable struggle for existence" between it and other species for food.[34] It was then, under the pressure of necessity, that le caractère spécifique de l'espèce humaine—the specific quality that distinguished man from the beasts—emerged—intelligence, a power, meager at first but yet capable of an "almost unlimited development". Rousseau calls this power the faculté de se perfectionner—perfectibility.[35] Man invented tools, discovered fire, and in short, began to emerge from the state of nature. Yet at this stage, men also began to compare himself to others: "It is easy to see. ... that all our labors are directed upon two objects only, namely, for oneself, the commodities of life, and consideration on the part of others."
  3. Oct 2018
    1. Rousseau’s narrative of the origin shows us through antithesis how everything of the order of what is usually considered specifically human is immediately and irremediably linked to an absence of property [im propriété ], to a process of “supplementation,” of prosthetization or exteriorization, in which nothing is any longer immediately at hand, where everything is found mediated and instrumentalized, technicized, unbalanced. This process would lead today to something inhuman, or superhuman, tearing the human away from everything that, hitherto, seemed to define him (language, work, society, reason, love and desire and everything deriving thereof, even a certain feeling of death and a certain relation to time: to all of this we shall return), a process by which the realization or the “actualization” of the power of man seems to be as well the derealization of man, his disappearance in the movement of a becoming that is no longer his own. Rousseau will not, therefore, have been mistaken; he will have been right, almost, for this narrative has set us face to face with the problem: an attempt at thinking in a single movement (the origin) of technics and (the “origin”) of the human— technology and anthropology— presupposes a radical conversion of one’s point of view. The question will be that of thinking the relation of being and time as a technological relation , if it is true that this relation only develops in the “originary” horizon of technics— which is just as much an absence of origin.

      Stiegler: "specifically human is immediately and irremediably linked to an absence of property [im propriété ], to a process of “supplementation,” of prosthetization or exteriorization" || Also the introduction of the task of "thinking the relation on being and time as a technological relation"

    2. Perfectibility is this power whose actualization is negative. Perfectibility is already there, indubitably, with freedom. But it is only there virtually. Perfectibility is tantamount to an originary freedom inasmuch as the latter is virtual perfectibility, but only virtual. This freedom is almost perfectibility, but only this almost. It must in no case be conflated with actual perfectibility. The act of freedom is its loss. The origin is in-action. As long as perfectibility remains virtual, freedom remains originary and man, a quasi-animal. The only initial difference between man and animals is that man is inclined to mimic them all; he has no particular instinct, and by this very fact, he can, endowed with en enigmatic adroitness (Rousseau 1973, 54), appropriate every animal instinct. “Savage man, left by nature solely to the direction of instinct, or rather indemnified for what he may lack by faculties capable at first of supplying its place, and afterwards of raising him much above it, must accordingly begin with purely animal functions” (60, my emphasis). Only the animal is present at the origin of humanity. There is no difference between man (in his essence) and animal, no essential difference between man and animal, unless it be an inactual possibility. When there is a difference, man is no longer, and this is his denaturalization, that is, the naturalization of the animal. Man is his disappearance in the denaturalization of his essence. Appearing, he disappears: his essence defaults [son essence sefait défaut}. By accident. During the conquest of mobility. Man is this accident of automobility caused by a default of essence [une panne d’essence, a “lack of fuel,” an “empty tank”]. Man will mimic the instincts of animals to supplement the instinct he lacks without, however, ever adding anything. This mimetic-animal freedom (freedom qua the latitude that the absence of instinct, determined and proper to man, is), which is a guarantee of equilibrium as long as it not become perfectibility, has nothing to do with the ingenuity of reason, although Rousseau does speak of adroitness, of the singular capacity of man, qua his metis, corresponding to a lack or default of originary essence and determination. How shall we interpret this lack or this originary default, this lack-of… found before the fall, before the realization of the default that is the fall? How shall we interpret this lack and this default which are neither lack nor default, almost not a lack and almost not a default, since we are in the origin, in original equilibrium in which being does not default itself [ne se fait pas défaut à lui-même]? As after the fact [après coup}.

      Stiegler > Rousseau: "perfectability" / originary "default" ||

    3. The prosthesis is the origin of inequality. The man of pure nature has everything about himself, carries himself whole and entire about himself; his body is “the only instrument he understands”; he is never in himself in default; no fissure is at work in him that would be provoked by a process of differentiation on the outside of himself, nor a differentiation of an “outside” that would be essential (interiorized) to him: he depends on no outside. This must be demonstrated, for Rousseau well knows that from the moment he no longer has everything within him, whatever he has (however little), not being a part of his being, becomes differentiated, diverges, disrupts, belongs already to the fall. Everything is inside: the origin is the inside. The fall is exteriorization. This thematic of exteriorization is central to Leroi-Gourhan’s definition of the process of humanization. We will see the paradox this definition struggles with as long as its own consequence is not drawn: the human is the technical, that is, time. The man that “carries himself, as it were, perpetually whole and entire about him” does not exteriorize himself, does not ex-press himself, does not speak: speech is already a prosthesis. Any exit outside of oneself is a denaturalization; to the extent that our ills place us outside of ourselves, they “are of our own making . . . and we might have avoided them nearly all by adhering to that simple, uniform and solitary manner of life which nature prescribed” (Rousseau 1973, 56).

      Stiegler: "The prosthesis is the origin of inequality" ||

    4. Rousseau, precisely, wants to show that there is no originary default, no prostheses, that the claws missing in man are not stones, or, should they be stones, they are precisely not cut or fabricated, being immediately at hand and not inscribed in any process of mediation.

      Stiegler > Rousseau: "Rousseau ... wants to show that there is no originary default" ||

    5. It is in time, in becoming, “in these successive changes in the constitution of man that we must look for the origin of those differences which now distinguish men” (Rousseau 1973, 44). If progress is profoundly a regression, it is because difference means not force (virtue, virtus), the marvelous and generous power of diversity, but inequality in the law of the strongest (or least strong). The law of the strongest is not originary, nor is the difference in which it necessarily consists. Nature is equality: the originary indifferentiation that is the universal. What is at stake in the Discourse is that nature not be the law of the strongest. Let us not forget the following: what is at stake— and this stake is above all philosophical— is a denial of an originary difference that allows one to affirm that, after the fall, there is a difference between principle and fact, here rebaptized as nature and culture. This discourse against difference passes therefore in turn through a differentiation; this is a discourse for difference as well. There is no difference at the origin, but originary equality: we must, but afterward, make an originary difference between what the origin is and what it no longer is, while recalling, reinvigorating, resurrecting in ourselves the origin qua indifferentiation: the problem will be to “distinguish properly [démêler] between what is original and what is artificial in the actual nature of man” (44) (and we will find the possibility of making this difference in the very voice of the undifferentiated origin— which can still speak to us). This is by no means a “light undertaking.” What does “distinguish properly” here mean? Is the original opposed to the artificial, or is it a matter of an a priori distinction rather than an opposition? The answer is complex, and the question full of knots. There must be in any case an original instance, and one must say what it is: the inhuman is there, everything is not permitted, history is interlaced with horrors that must be able to be denounced. But in this relation to the nonoriginary, does this “proper” strictly speaking derive from the originary? Should the original simply be opposed to the artificial? Or should one proceed as if that were the case?

      Stiegler > Rousseau: to "distinguish properly [démêler] between what is original and what is artificial in the actual nature of man" ||

    6. There is the origin, then the fall, forgetting, and loss. But it is quite difficult to distinguish the origin from the fall— which is to say also difficult to distinguish what is at the origin of the fall— this is particularly true in Rousseau.

      Stiegler: "...difficult to distinguish what is at the origin of the fall..." ||

    7. All narratives of the origin take on a mythical turn, in that they speak what is: to speak what is qua what absolutely is, is always to endure Meno’s aporia, to which a positive answer cannot be given. For there to be, in becoming (there can be an origin only when becoming is; the question of origin could never arise in a world of being), something after all, for being to be itself always the same, for it to have an identity in essence, a threshold should not be crossed but experienced. This is the difficulty Rousseau will encounter in thinking originary man7 as what he is in his nature, before any determination by his becoming. This will also be the very difficulty of our question: the human / the technical. When do(es) the human / the technical begin and end?

      Stiegler: "When do(es) the human / the technical begin and end?"

  4. Jan 2017
    1. man, in his animal ca• pacity, is furnished, like all other animals, by na-ture herself, with a language which requires neither study, art, nor imitation;

      This line of thinking seems like it'd have a lot of resonance with things like Chomsky's notion of Universal Grammar, but Sheridan's argument that this language needs to be refined through educating the nobler faculties would also have some interesting historical opposition. This is contemporary with Rousseau's Emile, which is basically the opposite of this.

    1. keep track of all our moves

      "My heart, as it always strays from one object to another, unites and identifies itself with those which soothe it, wraps itself in pleasant imaginings, and grows drunk on feelings of delight. If, in order to hold them, I amuse myself by describing them to myself, what vigorous brush-strokes, what freshness in colour, what energy of expression I bring to them!

      All this, I am told, people have found in my works, although they have been written in my declining years. Oh, if only they had seen those of my early youth, those I sketched during my travels, those I composed but never wrote down! Why do I not write them you will ask. But why should I? I reply. Why rob myself of the present charm of their enjoyment, to tell others that I enjoyed them once?

      Confessions Jean-Jacques Rousseau (158)