Transcendental Imagination in a Thousand Points

  • Bernard StieglerEmail author
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 29)


Horkheimer and Adorno viewed the cultural industries of their times (cinema, television) as a technological externalization of what Kant names “schematism,” the operation by which imagination unifies perceptual sensibility and conceptual understanding in the temporal flux of consciousness. For them, such an industrialization of imagination was the new barbarity. This chapter argues that the conditions of possibility of such technological exteriorization are the conditions of constitution of all consciousness, namely the existence, beyond the primary and secondary retentions analysed by Husserl (i.e. conservation and remembering), of “tertiary” retentions, that is, of a technical, prosthetic memory. Unwinding the thread of tertiary retentions, the argument flows back from cinema to Husserl’s analysis of the consciousness of time, to the invention of the phonograph, and ultimately to a thorough discussion with Kant regarding the three syntheses of apperception viewed as a true “cinema of consciousness.” In other words, if there is an “industrial schematism,” it is because schemes, as functions of tertiary retentions, are originally industrializable.

This text was originally delivered as “L’imagination transcendantale en mille points,” lecture at the high school Henri IV, Paris, 2002. The original translation by George Collins has been revised by the editors.


Critical theory Cultural industries Ecology of mind Exteriorization Heidegger Husserl Kant Schematism Temporality 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Research and Innovation (IRI, Paris Center of Art and Culture Georges Pompidou)ParisFrance
  2. 2.Ars IndustralisParisFrance
  3. 3.Connaissance, Organisation et Systèmes TECHniques (COSTECH)Université de technologie de Compiègne (UTC)CompiègneFrance
  4. 4.Nanjing UniversityNanjingChina

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