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BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
Final lecture

BECOMING POSTHUMAN
Professor Andy Miah email@andymiah.net @andymiah

Faculty of Business & Creative Industries

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
Where did we begin?
Political, social, and (moral)philosophical implications of posthumanism Joanna Zylinska ethics of cultural studies (2005) Communication of science through media Question found in centuries of philosophical thought (see Fukuyama) Different ways of characterising the human Transhumanism, cyborgology, posthumanism

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
What is posthumanism?
Fetish for the new (though Posthumanism has been around as a formal area of scholarly inquiry since 1990s) The new is characterised by speculation
eg. We may imagine a future where people are genetically modified to avoid all suffering brought about by biological dysfunction, but such a future may require an overwhelming burden of health surveillance throughout life

Consequence of a leisure society Where enhancement is seen as a necessity, rather than just a luxury

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
Paul Virilio (humanist)
Speed is characteristic of these times Suspicious of modern/postmodern Globalisation or virtualisation? We are not fragmented communities We retain grand narratives, such as a concern for justice

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
Paul Virilio
Critiquing the Art of Technology Immediacy and instantaneity Loss of orientation The Transplant Revolution Collapse of the distinction bw the human body and technology Concern for neo-eugenics
Critique of Stelarc for becoming the last man before automation

Rejects Cybersex: technological replacement of emotions

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
What is the status of the posthuman?
Is the posthuman ontologically transitory? What happens after AI? What happens after athletes are genetically modified? Does the sky fall or does it just challenge our imagination in a very difficult way?

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
Lets imagine that world
Genetically modified, surgically enhanced, super-intelligent, forever young, politically superficial, communicatively reductionistic,

Not so different from present day Why have technological futures been characterised as dystopian?

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
Status of posthuman remains the same Being human is not affected by these tendencies
We do not become unhuman, subhuman or inhuman We do not lose our rationality or consciousness We retain many of our characteristics We still feel emotion, care about others

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
It does, however, create new burdens
Responsibility towards ecosystem health Patenting human genes Rationing health care resources

But we are used to this. We remain human, despite these things


But this still begs the question what is human
Is it intelligence? Is it morality? Is it our capacity to feel and articulate emotion? These are all good arguments (defining the posthuman requires defining the human)

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
Once posthuman, can we then ever turn our backs on technology?
The implication being that, even if it is not wholly explained by technology, that the posthuman is constitutively technological But, posthumanism is more than technology, even if technology is constitutive of the posthuman Our view of the world changes through technology Technology also become a way of returning to nature - environmental technology

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
What comes after the posthuman? Does it reveal a linearity towards something? Is posthumanity necessarily after? Is posthumanism a reaction to hightechnology and its infiltration of culture Seeking a return to the natural Posthumanism has been used in a way to counter our acceptance of technology It instils fear Cf. Fukuyama But this is merely its untheorised, superficial articulation, where it has been used in a same way as

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
Monsters, aliens and others still function as important monitors and mediators of understandings of what it means to be post/human (Graham 2003).

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
Perhaps becoming posthuman entails becoming comfortable with this kind of future/present
Relinquishing us from the ties of the natural Even though we have always tampered with nature

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
It would be superficial to conclude that we are still human, but also inadequate to argue we are posthuman
Are we in limbo? We have already contested the definition of humanness At most, we can conclude that there are many ways of being human and, as individuals, we appropriate these different ways in different contexts We are not always representing the posthuman But posthumanism acknowledge diversity

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?
But if there is no clear definition of being human, then posthumanness might be an acceptance of this
Different ways of being human Grays definition of the cyborg Which is why it is primarily an ideology and not a statement about the human use of technology

BECOMING POSTHUMAN

Beyond Posthumanism?

FINAL DEBATE

We are already posthuman.


Agree or disagree?