Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Lyotard on knowledge and money

This was the passage in which Lyotard's logic regarding knowledge and money became clear to me:

"By the end of the Discourse on method, Descartes is already asking for laboratory funds. A new problem appears: devices that optimize the performance of the human body for the purpose of producing proof require additional expenditures. No money, no proof...no verification and no truth"

So the relationship between knowledge and money is not necessarily - or did not start as - insidious, it is simply needed to be able to conduct research and produce knowledge. If knowledge is important, money is also important:

"...whoever is wealthiest has the best chance of being right. An equation between wealth, efficiency and truth is thus established."

Where there is an equation between wealth and truth and knowledge is important - whether altruistically, for society as a machine, for power or self-preservation on the part of organisations that produce it, what happens as a result of this logic is predictable:

"A technical apparatus required an investment...it [the same apparatus, purchased to enhance the probability of being right] also optimizes the surplus value..."

Uh-oh....

"All that is needed is for the surplus-value to be realised ... for the product of the task performed to be sold ... [and the] system can be sealed ... a portion of the sale is recycled into a research fund... [and] science becomes a force of production ... a moment in the circulation of capital."

Here is the source of our problem and the consequences are the topic of the next - and hopefully final - posting from this book (performativity, of course).

Quotes on this page are from pp 46-47.
 



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