January 12th, 2011

S.C. Hickman

Antihumanism, Cybergology, and our Posthuman Future - Myth or Reality?

"I will start with a classic question: can the idea that we have of the human person, which is to say of ourselves, survive the forward march of scientific discovery? ... Is not cognitive science now in the process of completing this process of disillusionment and demystification by showing us that just where we believe we sense the workings of a mind, there is only the firing of neural networks, no different in principle than an ordinary electric circuit? "
    - Jean-Pierre Dupuy

Imagine a machine feeling compassion for objects. Now imagine this machine devoid of our human relation to the world, but still having relations. What type of object would this machine be? 

Describing Bruce Mazlish's book The Fourth Discontinuity:The Co-evolution of Humans and Machines, Gray, Mentor and Figueroa-Sarriera outlining their own cyborgology tell us that in "Mazlish's story, Western intellectual history can be seen as the overcoming of a series of great illusions, termed discontinuities, because they posited as natural four artificial distinctions, those: 1) between humans and the cosmos (overcome by Copernicus); 2) between humans and other life (overcome by Darwin); 3) between humans and our unconscious (overcome by Freud); and 4) between humans and machines. Wheresoever we note the dissolving fourth discontinuity, cyborgs thrive" (Gray, Mentor, Figueroa-Sarriera, 1995, 5-6). Such ideas thrived in Lacan when during a seminar he once stated that the "machine is simply the succession of little 0s and 1s, so that the question whether it is human or not is obviously entirely settled - it isn't. Except, there's also the question of knowing whether the human, in the sense in which you understand it, is as human as all that" (S2, 319).

Jean-Pierre Dupuy speaking of Heidegger tells us that Heidegger anticipated the objection that would be brought against him for attacking humanism and its anthropocentric view of man and life: "Because we are speaking against humanism people fear a defense of the inhuman and a glorification of barbaric brutality. For what is more logical than that for somebody who negates humanism nothing remains but the affirmation of inhumanity?"  Heidegger defended himself by attacking. Barbarism is not to be found where one usually looks for it. The true barbarians are the ones who are supposed to be humanists, who, in the name of the dignity that man accords himself, leave behind them a world devastated by technology, a desert in which no one can truly be said to dwell. [1]


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