SF with Stengers: Asked For or Not, the Pattern Is Now in Your Hands


When I first held a copy of Isabelle Stengers’s passionate book, a big tome that tangles with a truly speculative philosopher, one we were both in love with, I misread the actual title, Penser avec Whitehead, as Pensez avec Whitehead! My French is better than that, but I fear my character is not. I saw an imperative rather than a situated practice of thinking-with. Horrified but laughing, in a characteristic act of friendship, with earth-rooted and precise abstractions, Stengers lured me to think with her beyond the catastrophes of my always-ready-to-hand self-certainties and ideologies. She has taught me—taught us—to recognize the killing trap of believing that we have nothing but infernal choices, each of which leads to authoritarianism and invested ignorance. Instead, she models how to think-with each other in relentlessly situated and risky practices. Indeed, as in the subtitle of her book, Stengers seeks for and elucidates “une libre et sauvage création de concepts” (a free and wild creation of concepts).

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