Much is made of Charles Darwin's concept of natural selection, but Bernard Stiegler has developed a theory of artificial selection that is arguably every bit as important for an understanding of human life, and the life of the mind and aesthetics, in particular. Building on work by the paleoanthropologist André Leroi-Gourhan, Stiegler argues that humans evolve biologically insofar as they are animals, but they become human only through technics. Through tools, we are able to take hold of our own future by reconstructing environments to which we are maladapted and by preserving values that we choose to privilege over and above adaptive fitness. These tools also transform the field of our experience, de- and refunctionalizing our biological organs in a way that enables the body to interpret and be interpreted differently. Perhaps the most prominent example of this transformation of the body by technics is to be found in the unconscious, which comes into existence through the reorganization of the plastic brain by cultural systems of tool use. Our aesthetic preferences are not simply biologically hardwired but stem from our unconscious inheritance of the culturally transmitted and artificially selected codes of symbolic order.
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Gerald Moore; On the Origin of Aisthesis by Means of Artificial Selection; Or, the Preservation of Favored Traces in the Struggle for Existence. boundary 2 1 February 2017; 44 (1): 191–212. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-3725941
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