Divorcing Humanism: Introducing Transhumanism to Mediated Posthumanism

Lewis, R. (Speaker)

Activiteit: Talk or presentation at a conference


In this paper I will make the case that the debate between transhumanists and
bioconservatives is not the most relevant debate. Both bioconservatives and
transhumanists are two sides of the same, ‘humanist’ coin (Sharon). While
transhumanism is a technologically progressive movement, it is rooted in humanist
enlightenment thought from the 18th century and would be better served if it reframed itself with a foundation of postphenomenological (Ihde; Verbeek) and post-humanist (Braidotti, Hayles) concepts. These contemporary, amodern philosophies strive to decenter the human, focus on the relatedness of the subject to the world (rather than an autonomous stand-alone self), and believe in the non-neutrality of technology.
1. Transhumanism sees the world and the human condition as complicated but solvable, allowing for an engineered solution for many of its issues. While its goals center on improving the human condition through technology, it is hampered by ties with the humanist enlightenment concepts from the 18th century. While humanism and the enlightenment helped western civilization move into a more empowered, artistic, and technological culture, it has also led to a command-and-control mentality (Puech). What has qualified as ‘human’ has an unfortunate history of not including many in marginalized groups, leading to atrocities like the holocaust of WWII and eugenics.
2. Transhumanists often view technology in an instrumental (neutral) manner, not
recognizing that all new technologies fundamentally transform a situation, enabling
some abilities while constraining others. Don Ihde calls this a technofantasy view of
technology. Working hypothesis: By changing transhumanist’s theoretical foundation to a hybrid of postphenomenology and critical posthumanism (similar to Sharon’s mediated posthumanism), transhumanism can become more contemporary and bring to light more balanced and grounded expectations for the future of humans and technology. Method of investigation: I create a new framework for transhumanism by replacing the humanist underpinnings with Sharon’s mediated posthumanism, which is at the intersection of postphenomenology and critical posthumanism. As an example, I then use this new framework to reframe the dialogue of using CRISPR to modify human DNA.
Periode21 jun 2018
EvenementstitelInvestigating Transhumanisms and their Narratives
LocatieLille, France
Mate van erkenningInternational