In my third and final lecture, I consider the conflict opposing Denis Diderot to Anne-Claude-Philippe de Tubières, Count de Caylus, on the faculty of judging works. The contemporary critic Jean-Louis Jam has called this conflict “the quarrel of the amateur.” I examine how this conflict anticipates from the eighteenth century, but in a kind of reversal in advance, the ambiguous fate in which criticism decomposes into philistinism—and in which the cultivated philistine comes to be interested and circumspect, and to repeat, with a serious, portentous air, “This is interesting … this is interesting.” With Diderot and the Encyclopédie, the Amateur becomes a figure on which there weighs a suspicion that imposes itself first insofar as the amateur represents a privilege typical of the ancien régime. But it also weighs on the amatorat, the bourgeois class of amateurs, as we shall see with Roland Barthes, and precisely as this bourgeois class, as an amatorat that is both philistine and cultivated. As for us, the hermeneuts of the twenty-first century, all more or less philistinized perhaps, mystagogues, mystifiers, and mystified, no longer believing in either myths or their demystification, we know now that we have come to know a new, quite uncultivated philistinism, though believing itself quite cultivated, and rather worse than that of all those bourgeois: a philistinism proper to our own time, a “bobo” philistinism, getting its honey from the buzz.
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Bernard Stiegler; The Quarrel of the Amateurs. boundary 2 1 February 2017; 44 (1): 35–52. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-3725857
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