Sunday, April 13, 2014


With the advent of the new movie Transcendence it seems many visions of the transhuman are disembodied, like robotics or transferring our consciousness into a virtual reality. Or at the very least enhancing the human with machinery, like those mechanical suits worn in Avatar. Here's a review of a book that goes in the other direction, back to embodiment and away from the 'subject' of modernism, in which the usual transhuman visions like the above are still embedded to create a super human subject. A few excerpts:

"The problem with much of what passes for posthumanism (or sometimes transhumanism) is that it is not sufficiently posthuman....[it] explicitly grounds the post/transhumanist project in notions of human perfectibility, rationality, and agency....[or] promotion of the new science as a tool of human mastery over the natural world.....[it] is not abandoning the autonomous liberal subject but is expanding its prerogatives into the realm of the posthuman."

Instead it might be more like the following:

"Articulating a more persistent posthumanism by combining the insights of second order systems theorists Humberto Maturana, Fransisco Varela and especially Niklas Luhmann with those of Jacques Derrida....[that] entails the effacement of any presumed ontological divide between the human and the animal.....[and] ensure that this effacement is not undertaken in ways that reinscribe the very assumptions that produced the animal/human divide in the first place."

More that is resonant with some of my other theses of late:

"Philosophy can hence no longer be seen as mastery, as a kind of clutching or grasping via analytical categories and concepts. [...] Rather, the duty of thinking is not to deflect but to suffer... our 'exposure' to the world."

"Not only are we physically and biologically vulnerable, we are also subject to the materiality and technicity of language which exists independently of us and which, (in a posthuman recognition) as an ahuman prosthetic, renders the nonhuman already a part of our being."

Hayles' book How We Became Posthuman was referenced. One can find an excerpt here. I have to read this one. Some fascinating chapter headings follow: "From hyphen to splice"; "Boundary work in the mid-sixties novels of Philip K. Dick." I'm a big Dickhead so that one should be good.

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