2010 Abstracts Stage 2

The Rise of the Posthuman: the Redefinition of the Human

The aim of my project is to demonstrate that a redefinition of the Human has taken place in contemporary culture.

Here is basic outline of my investigation

• I will explain, firstly, what Ontology is, due to the fact that it is this branch of philosophy that has been traditionally occupied with defining things, including ourselves, in order to categorise the universe

• Secondly, I will reveal that this system of ontology is obsolete in a postmodern landscape, as we see the crumbling of these categories.

• The questions we are left are, why has this crumbling of categories occurred and how does it affect our understanding of ourselves and of that which surrounds us differently?

• The answer lies simultaneously with an increasingly technocratic and cybernetic culture and the realisation that Man is not a categorical some priori but a historical one. In other words, the Human is an epistemological concept which is grounded within a particular epoch that is inevitably going to change when that knowledge finds a new form.

• Michel Foucault attributes our particular epoch’s understanding of the human to Immanuel Kant, since he was the first to recognise the epistemological consciousness of man as such.

• Therefore, I will investigate Kant’s understanding of the human and determine whether it has already found new form.

• By studying the notions of the philosophers, and in the developments in science and technology, that followed Kant, I will reveal that the Human has found a new form of knowledge.

• I will also demonstrate that certain art forms, such as literature and cinema, particularly that of the Science Fiction genre, reveal this by applying the aforementioned philosophical, scientific and technology developments to certain texts. Since art is generally seen as representation of truth, this method is perfectly valid.

• Finally, I will expose the result of this redefinition, The Posthuman.

2007 Abstracts Stage 3

The Cyborg: Inhuman or Utopian?

The Cyborg Concept: The first section of my project sets out a definition of the cyborg as a cybernetic organism: the symbiotic combination of human and machine. From this definition I explore the idea that we now live in a cyborg society where the combination of human and machine has become the norm. The Cyborg Concept in Science Fiction: The second section of my project involves a discussion of the depiction of cyborgs in science fiction and the fears/hopes involved in the narratives. Since Haraway and Baudrillard have agreed that the line between science fiction and reality is illusory it is apparent that these issues are important today. Cyborg Acceptance/Cyborg Resistance: The third section of my project explores arguments for dissolving the boundaries between human and machine and for protecting these boundaries. The main sources of reference are Donna Haraway’s ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’ and Jean-Francois Lyotard’s ‘The Inhuman’. Heidegger and Technology: In the final section I discuss Heidegger’s claim in ‘The Question Concerning Technology’ that technology is so imbedded in our time that we cannot accept or resist it. We use technology but technology uses us too: it is our way of seeing the world yet it determines us. Vattimo says that the subject is weakened by technology and a weak subject is essential if we are to deny metaphysics.