Posthuman, all too post - Calin Mihailescu
As old humanism started morphing into its opposite, and letting itself be scavenged by the isms of modern industrialism and its positivisms, fascisms, communism, socialisms with a human face (but with the same iron fists), consumerism and bureaucracies, the massive counter-attack mounted by the Fathers of 68 (Foucault, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida, Lacan, but also grandpas Heidegger, Levinas and Blanchot) marked a watershed in the history of theory.
This course attempts to push the destruction of the subject and of its human puppet beyond the confines of 68. It’s been 40 years, after all, and the establishment has been getting more entrenched than ever.
The issues to be tackled include the critique of Heidegger’s and Ellul’s critiques of technology, surgical attempts on the body of bodily prostheses (mechanical, chemical, digital, etc.); the embodiment as non-subjective (Kant’s anthropology, Lyotard’s inhuman, the Golem tradition)); Deleuze’s rhizomatics and the transhumanist direction (“Transhumanism is the view that humans should (or should be permitted to) use technology to remake human nature” (Heidi Campbell and Mark Walker, “Religion and Transhumanism: Introducing a Conversation,” Journal of Evolution and Technology, 14:2 (August 2005); also the movement of “singularism” and the inception of “The Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence “(SIAI), in 2000); questions of techno-power, beyond Foucault (e.g. de Chardin’s noosphere, but also the KGB-inspired definition of the secret agent as a pure brain without a body, thus hooked into a Borg-like collective aggregate); and the fates of Nietzsche in the middle of his prophesized Nihilistic era, including a gendered take on him as a woman.
Readings include, beyond the older authors mentioned, Steve Nichols’s Post-Human Manifesto (1988); Hans Moravec, Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence (1988); Douglas Dixon, Man after Man. An Anthropology of the Future (1990); Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto,” and “Situated Knowledges.” Simians, Cyborgs, and Women (1991); Robert Pepperell, The Posthuman Condition (1995); Katherine Hayles, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (1999); Bill Joy, “Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us?” Wired (April 2000); Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (2005); Simon Young, Designer Evolution: A Transhumanist Manifesto (2006); Ashel Seidel, Inhuman Thoughts: Philosophical Explorations of Posthumanity (2008); Paul Jersild, “Rethinking the Human Being in Light of Evolutionary Biology,” Dialog 47:1 (Spring 2008). Also, products of the SF writers (S.J. Lec, Philip Dick, Ch. Cross, KenMacLeod, Bruce Sterling, Greg Egan) will be devoured as part of this course’s diet.
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