Posthumanization

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Posthumanization comprises "those processes by which a society comes to include members other than 'natural' biological human beings who, in one way or another, contribute to the structures, dynamics, or meaning of the society."[1] Posthumanization is one of the key phenomena studied by those academic disciplines and methodologies that identify themselves as "posthumanist", including critical, cultural, and philosophical posthumanism. Its processes can be divided into forms of non-technological and technological posthumanization.[2][3]

Technological vs. non-technological posthumanization[edit]

Non-technological posthumanization[edit]

While posthumanization has links with the scholarly methodologies of posthumanism, it is a distinct phenomenon. The rise of explicit posthumanism as a scholarly approach is relatively recent, occurring since the late 1970s;[4][5] however, some of the processes of posthumanization that it studies are ancient. For example, the dynamics of non-technological posthumanization have existed historically in all societies in which animals were incorporated into families as household pets or in which ghosts, monsters, angels, or semidivine heroes were considered to play some role in the world.[6][5][3]

Such non-technological posthumanization has been manifested not only in mythological and literary works but also in the construction of temples, cemeteries, zoos, or other physical structures that were considered to be inhabited or used by quasi- or para-human beings who were not natural, living, biological human beings but who nevertheless played some role within a given society,[5][3] to the extent that, according to philosopher Francesca Ferrando: "the notion of spirituality dramatically broadens our understanding of the posthuman, allowing us to investigate not only technical technologies (robotics, cybernetics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, among others), but also, technologies of existence." [7]

Technological posthumanization[edit]

Some forms of technological posthumanization involve efforts to directly alter the social, psychological, or physical structures and behaviors of the human being through the development and application of technologies relating to genetic engineering or neurocybernetic augmentation; such forms of posthumanization are studied, e.g., by cyborg theory.[8] Other forms of technological posthumanization indirectly "posthumanize" human society through the deployment of social robots or attempts to develop artificial general intelligences, sentient networks, or other entities that can collaborate and interact with human beings as members of posthumanized societies.

The dynamics of technological posthumanization have long been an important element of science fiction; genres such as cyberpunk take them as a central focus. In recent decades, technological posthumanization has also become the subject of increasing attention by scholars and policymakers. The expanding and accelerating forces of technological posthumanization have generated diverse and conflicting responses, with some researchers viewing the processes of posthumanization as opening the door to a more meaningful and advanced transhumanist future for humanity,[9][10][11] while other bioconservative critiques warn that such processes may lead to a fragmentation of human society, loss of meaning, and subjugation to the forces of technology.[12]

Common features of technological and non-technological posthumanization[edit]

Processes of technological and non-technological posthumanization both tend to result in a partial "de-anthropocentrization" of human society, as its circle of membership is expanded to include other types of entities and the position of human beings is decentered. A common theme of posthumanist study is the way in which processes of posthumanization challenge or blur simple binaries, such as those of "human versus non-human", "natural versus artificial", "alive versus non-alive", and "biological versus mechanical".[13][5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gladden, Matthew (2018). Sapient Circuits and Digitalized Flesh: The Organization as Locus of Technological Posthumanization (second ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Defragmenter Media. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-944373-21-4.  Elsewhere (p. 35) in the same text Gladden proposes a longer definition, stating that "The processes of posthumanization are those dynamics by which a society comes to include members other than 'natural' biological human beings who, in one way or another, contribute to the structures, activities, or meaning of the society. In this way, a society comes to incorporate a diverse range of intelligent human, non-human, and para-human social actors who seek to perceive, interpret, and influence their shared environment and who create knowledge and meaning through their networks and interactions."
  2. ^ Herbrechter, Stefan (2013). Posthumanism: A Critical Analysis. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-7809-3690-1. After referring (p. 3) to "the current technology-centred discussion about the potential transformation of humans into something else (a process that might be called 'posthumanization')," Herbrechter offers an analysis of Lyotard's essay "A Postmodern Fable," in which Herbrechter concludes (p. 7) that "What Lyotard's sequel to Nietzsche's fable shows is that, on the one hand, there is no point in denying the ongoing technologization of the human species, and, on the other hand, that a purely technology-centred idea of posthumanization is not enough to escape the humanist paradigm."
  3. ^ a b c Gladden, Matthew (2018). Sapient Circuits and Digitalized Flesh: The Organization as Locus of Technological Posthumanization (second ed.). Indianapolis, IN: Defragmenter Media. ISBN 978-1-944373-21-4. 
  4. ^ Ferrando, Francesca (2013). "Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Antihumanism, Metahumanism, and New Materialisms: Differences and Relations." Existenz: An International Journal in Philosophy, Religion, Politics, and the Arts 8 (2): 26-32. ISSN 1932-1066.
  5. ^ a b c d Herbrechter, Stefan (2013). Posthumanism: A Critical Analysis. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-7809-3690-1. 
  6. ^ Graham, Elaine (2002). Representations of the Post/Human: Monsters, Aliens and Others in Popular Culture. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3058-X. 
  7. ^ Ferrando, Francesca (2016). "Humans Have Always Been Posthuman: A Spiritual Genealogy of the Posthuman". In Banerji, D. et al. Critical Posthumanism and Planetary Futures (1st ed.). New York: Springer. pp. 243–256. ISBN 9788132236375. Retrieved 2018-08-08. 
  8. ^ The Cyborg Handbook (1995). Chris Hables Gray, editor. New York: Routledge. ISBN 9780415908498.
  9. ^ Moravec, Hans (1988). Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-57618-7. 
  10. ^ Kurzweil, Ray (2005). The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. New York, NY: Penguin. ISBN 9781101218884. 
  11. ^ Bostrom, Nick (2008). "Why I Want to Be a Posthuman When I Grow Up." In Bert Gordijn and Ruth Chadwick, Medical Enhancement and Posthumanity, pp. 107-37. Springer Netherlands. ISBN 978-1-4020-8851-3.
  12. ^ Fukuyama, Francis (2002). Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 9781861972972. 
  13. ^ Ferrando, Francesca (2013). "Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Antihumanism, Metahumanism, and New Materialisms: Differences and Relations." Existenz: An International Journal in Philosophy, Religion, Politics, and the Arts 8 (2): 26-32. ISSN 1932-1066. Ferrando notes (p. 27) that such challenging of binaries constitutes part of "the post-anthropocentric and post-dualistic approach of (philosophical, cultural, and critical) posthumanism."


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