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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Posthumanism
Posted: April 9, 2020 at 6:23 pm
Whats the very first thing a website visitor observes on your website? Or lets say what the first thing that draws customer attention is? Animations, graphics, color selection, logo all these things draw the first impression of your website and this helps the person to decide whether he will stay on the website or leave it right away.
Well, in the ever-evolving and fast digital world, you only get a few seconds to impress the customers with your web design; else the person will look for some other alternate and eventually invest in some of your strong competitors.
When the industry competition is becoming tougher day after day and with the growing demands and expectations of the website visitors, you need to plan a web design strategy that will not only attract the people but also results in a higher conversion rate. So, in this post, well explore a list of popular web design and UX trends that major industry leaders practice in 2020 so as to stay ahead of the race.
Lets get started!
No doubt, the technology has led us to go the extra mile from desktop views to smartphones, tablets, and other devices support. All thanks to the mobile-first design that has offered an outstanding user experience.
However, we are far away from designing content that is compatible with all sorts of devices smartwatches, desktops, phones, websites, and so on. There are voice platforms, personal assistant apps, or devices connected by the Internet of Things, in this case, we need to focus upon a content-first approach rather than only working upon the mobile-first design. This will definitely help in attracting a wider audience towards your business.
Users are always looking for innovative and impressive things over a website. The latest technologies in the design industry that are expected by the users will include vibrant, bright, and highly saturated colors. Numerous other color schemes will accompany gradients, surrealism, and pre-posthumanism that carry their own set of characteristics and feel to impress the customers in recent times and bring them towards your business.
So, in the coming time, customers will simply love and get attracted to bold, bright, and vibrant colors. Having a demanding and accurate color palette that has a set of lively colors is what businesses are going to focus on in the coming decade.
Contextual photography is basically an image that will capture a lot more than the subject and comprise of images that will help your brand connect with a sensory emotion and help your business stand unique from the rest of the competition. It will eventually help the customers grab attention towards your brands simply with the help of appealing images that clearly convey your business idea and products.
Nowadays, customers are getting more attracted to appealing videos since it consumes less time and is an attractive way to grab information. Businesses have started making videos for tutorials, social media ads, and even web banners in the form of GIFs, animations, and short videos.
Since people no more prefer reading lengthy text and love watching short videos, this is the reason videos have become a powerful marketing tool in todays time so as to grab a wider customer audience and experience better conversion rates.
Personalization has remained a buzzword for a long time, but the technical skills to implement it the right way has come just a year back. Well, personalization is just not confined to addressing a user by his name, however, it is about focusing on the customer interests, while the users are going through the purchasing process, and a tailored message is sent to direct them to the next step.
Since the customers experience a memorable journey over your website, they would definitely love continuing over your website.
Micro-interactions are ultimately getting the attention and appreciation it deserves. Designers know it very well that they have been waiting for this. Micro-interactions are soon going to become mainstream now. Well, micro-interactions are basically visual responses or animations customers will see while performing certain activities.
Micro-interactions will inform the customers while they successfully make a payment, added a product in the wishlist, or posted a review. It will further help in improving the navigation of the website and deliver a great experience while bringing the customers near to the conversions.
More and more industry leaders are planning to invest and work upon multistep forms this year. Multi-step forms will build the threatening parameter of lengthy forms and improve engagement with the help of touch gestures and micro interactions while reducing typing and deliver a rich experience to the users than ever before.
It is defined as the technique to arrange type for making written impressive while displaying. Emphasizing text is as important as focusing on the colors, thereby it becomes necessary for a business to work upon typography design in order to get better conversions. During this, you must focus on text size, font selection, tracking and kerning, leading, measure, and hierarchy.
Better the typography is, better your brand name will be in the market. Moreover, users not only prefer text, which seems appealing, but the one which is easy to navigate and well organized. So, make sure you use bullets wherever required, add titles, subheadings, and even try highlighting the important things throughout the text.
Masking is a technique that already many websites are using nowadays the tool hides specific areas of the image and reveals the other areas. This presents a mysterious view of the image and is quite appealing to the customers end. Since it has a contemporary look, it is becoming a popular trend in the entire design industry. The majority of the masking evidence and live examples can be seen on front pages, titles, and header sections.
Another thing that technology surprises us with is predictive analytics, which will be available for all-sized brands. In the coming time, predictive analytics tools will become an ordinary thing as email marketing platforms and landing page builders that further helps you transform your existing data in some competent predictions and higher conversion rates.
For instance, with predictive analytics, you can expect an advertising campaign that automatically adjusts as per the recent trend, weather, and all other important parameters that further helps in improving the conversion rates. To make this successful, predictive analysis maps the data history, spotting patterns, and detect the scenarios where adjustments can be made.
As technology and the web design industry continue to evolve and grows every day, we can expect more and more trends that will dominate the web design industry. However, the above web design trends that are expected to stay in the industry for 2020 and beyond. Masking, color schemes, predictive analytics, videos, all these trends are definitely going to bring a wider audience towards your business with fewer efforts. It further enables you to turn those website visitors into loyal leads, stay ahead of the competitors, and boost the conversion rates as never before.
Originally posted here:
Cosmodeism: Prologue to a Theology of Transhumanism – Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
Posted: March 31, 2020 at 6:33 am
IntroductionFreuds disciple, Otto Rank once wrote that the need for a truly religious ideology is inherent in human nature and its fulfillment is basic to any kind of social life. If Transhumanism is to become a universal phenomenon it must include what Jung called a divine drama that is universally compelling.
This article proposes scientific hypotheticals regarding the future of existence that have significant theological implications, but which cannot be empirically confirmed. My method could be described as Futuristic Logic. I assume evolution to be the salient characteristic of existence: cosmic evolution having produced ever more complex elements, which eventually evolved into life, which continued to produce ever more complex life forms, until it produced self-reflective consciousness. Evolution will, therefore, eventually produce a supra-consciousness that will, ultimately, produce a supra-supra-consciousness, and so on, until a 'life form' will have been created that will appear to us as if it were a God. Not "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", but "in the end an evolving cosmos will have created God". This won't be deterministic; it will be the result of conscious life forms throughout the Cosmos striving to gain control over their own evolution. This is the fundamental (volitional or subliminal) impulse of Transhumanism.
I do not consider Transhumanism to mean transcending (going beyond) humanism. Such a formulation is congruent with some formulations of Posthumanism, which, in turn, are logical deductions from radical Postmodernism. Such formulations reject the Enlightenment project as a misfortune and view terms like altruism, humanism, and democracy as "soft and slimy virtues". I identify myself as a Neo-modernist, (or a Post-postmodernist, if you prefer); someone who accepts the postmodernist critique of the nave hubris of Modernism and the moral transgressions which were its unintended consequence but who emphatically embraces Modernism's heroic ambition for humanity. Rejecting the ambitions of Modernism because of past sins is akin to rejecting evolution because Darwinism morphed into Social Darwinism which gave birth to eugenics, which led to the Holocaust.
I view as axiomatic that existence is hierarchal: evolution producing ever more complex hierarchal configurations, of which self-reflective, volitional consciousness is Planet Earth's current pinnacle. This axiom has ethical and moral implications. Running over a dog, as distressing as that is, is not the same as running over a human being if this be 'speciesism' so be it. As for me, human beings do occupy a superior place in nature, and the European Enlightenment while almost pathologically nave in its optimism was a culmination of the ethical and moral evolution of humankind at the time. Our human duty, therefore, is to strive towards a Transcendent humanism; to volitionally evolve our species into supra-humans (or as Nietzsche might have put it, into Supraman). It is our duty to overcome ourselves; to realize our divine potential; not to transcend humanism but to become transcendent humans: supra-humans.
Debunking the Non-Overlapping Magisteria Thesis
In 1997, evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould published his non-overlapping magisteria thesis, that science and religion represent distinct, mutually exclusive domains. It was well written and well-argued. But unfortunately, it contributed to the ongoing desiccation of the intellectual imagination that began in the 19th century. Presuming we can compartmentalize our various intuitions, hunches and speculative imaginings into distinct, mutually exclusive domains is specious.
Until the 19th century, when universities quarantined thinking into academic departments, it would have been difficult to differentiate between the philosophical, religious, artistic and scientific. The very word 'scientist' was coined in 1833 by Anglican priest, William Whewell, who was also a historian of science and a philosopher. If you had called Newton a scientist he would not have understood what you were talking about. Newton was a 'natural philosopher' who wrote over two million words on theology. Science was his way of discovering the 'Mind of God'.
In modern terms, Leonardo Da Vinci was an engineer, scientist, and artist. But if you had asked him to define himself 'professionally' he would not have understood the question. He epitomized a fusion of technology, science, and art; each permeating and enriching the other. He would not have been an artistic genius without his technological genius, which was suffused with the same aesthetic instinct that characterized his art. Modern scientists still talk about the 'elegance' of a theory; engineers the 'beauty' of a design.
The religious thinking of the late Middle Ages, especially the sophisticated Aristotelian thinking of scholastic philosopher/priests such as Thomas Aquinas), played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. As Emmet Kennedy put it "Aquinas drew a famous distinction between what is known by reason and what is known by revelation". This intellectual space was necessary for the secular thinking which eventually created science and economic theory. Aquinas embraced two articles of Catholic faith: God was a God of reason who ordered the world rationally, and secondary causes, which enable us to explain natural phenomena and the interaction of nature's constituents by things secondary to God's direct intrusion phenomena which require reason, not revelation, in order to be fully understood. A modern interpretation of secondary causes could certainly accommodate evolution.
Subsequent Church thought removed some of the intellectual rubble of Aristotelian scholasticism that would have hindered the emergence of quantifiable scientific thinking. Butterfield noted that in 1277, Bishop Stephen Tempier headed "a council in Paris [which] condemned the view that even God could not create a void or an infinite universe of a plurality of worlds". God, being God, could do whatever he wished. This theological pronouncement provided the 'science' of the time with the freedom to speculate about the nature of existence without a priori doctrinal restrictions.
Occam's Razor (the Law of Parsimony) is a representative example of the overlap between the philosophical, religious and scientific. Occam was a Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopherand theologian. While his philosophy was religiously motivated to confirm monotheism, it eventually became the holy grail of scientific research. Could the Scientific Revolution have occurred in a non-monotheistic civilization a civilization that had already created a theological law of parsimony: one God; the One (and only)?
Cleric Jean Buridan (c.1300c.1358), anticipating Galileo, developed the Theory of Impetus, demonstrating that there is no need for either Aristotle's 'First Mover' or Plato's 'souls', which are not found in the Bible and which, by implication, limit God's omnipotence to design the world as he pleases. Bishop Nicolas d'Oresme (c.13201382) anticipating Copernicus, wrote that the Holy Scriptures can be accommodated even if we concede the possibility that the earth moves and is not the center of existence. Copernicus also anticipated the clockwork universe of Descartes and Deism. Referring to Buridan's impetus theory, he observed that "God might have started off the universe as a kind of clock and left it to run by itself". Here we see the parameters of Christian faith enabling the emergence of a mechanical cosmos by eliminating the need for 'intelligences' to explain the movement of celestial spheres. Butterfield noted that this was "a case of a consistent body of teaching [which] developed as a tradition" and influenced Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo. The latter's theory of inertia reflected a view that "God might have given these things their initial impetus, and their motion could be imagined as continuing forever".
Copernicus was motivated to simplify the complexities of the Ptolemaic system which, he felt, insulted God. If God is the God of reason, possessing omnipotent intelligence, he certainly would have created a universe more sensible than the convoluted Ptolemaic contraption. Copernicus applied the Law of Parsimony inherent in monotheism and found Ptolemy wanting. His motivation was to defend the honor of God's unconditional power.
Science, in turn, influenced theology. Natural theology is a consequence of religion trying to accommodate itself to science; to formulate an understanding of God that does not contradict science. Centuries before the Scientific Revolution, Maimonides advocated that rabbis must accommodate their interpretations of the Torah to science and not the other way around. Natural theology, natural religion, and philosophical theism are all consequences of an emergent scientific mindset compelling monotheistic religions to review and revise their doctrines. When theological imperatives consistently generate concepts reflecting a more modern scientific mindset, and when science constantly impacts religious thought, then we must discard the non-overlapping magisteria notion especially if we are to respond to Rank's observation that a healthy civilization needs a religious ideology.
Science is also based on faith in several assumptions that cannot be proven empirically. For example:1. Nature's laws are uniform throughout existence. 2. Nature's laws do not evolve and change.3. Mathematics is the universal language; existence is monolingual.4. What we see through a telescope millions of light years away still exists. We know Andromeda existed 2.5 million years ago, (its light has traveled 2.5 million light years) but do we empirically know it still exists?
Scientists accept these assumptions in order to do their jobs. But the only way they could prove them would be to be a supernatural entity outside of nature, capable of looking at all of nature. We reasonably assume these beliefs are true because all our experience 'SO FAR' affirms their validity. But, as David Hume noted over 250 years ago, 'SO FAR' ends when you confront the first exception. This is the paradox of science: something is science only because it is falsifiable. In other words, the "bedrock" assumptions that enable science to function are also falsifiable, and so cannot be bedrock, else they wouldn't be science.
Scientists claim they don't deal with meaning. But scientific biographies frequently contradict this. Science's giants have often been driven by the essentially religious question "what does it all mean?" I differentiate between the big 'R' organized religion business and the small 'r' religious sense of mystery of 'why there is anything at all rather than nothing'. The operations of existence often excite reverential wonder in authentic scientists. The greatest scientific centers are temples of spirituality that challenge mystical, supernatural religions. Einstein wrote: "What is the meaning of human life or of organic life altogether? To answer this question at all implies a religion." He added "the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow-creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life".
We cannot discriminate between the material and the spiritual. The Scientific and Industrial Revolutions are also spiritual. They have provided the means to liberate humankind from ignorance, superstition and soul-destroying drudge work. Without material well-being there cannot be spiritual enlightenment, without scientific progress there can be no material well-being. As the Talmud says "without bread there is no Torah"
One Transhumanist task would be to reunify humankind's various spiritual predispositions (religious, scientific or philosophical); to realize Carl Sagan's vision that: "A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths".
WHY? The Ultimate Question
'WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?' is the ultimate question regarding the human condition. It is the question that has motivated religious and philosophical speculation, scientific endeavor, artistic creativity and entrepreneurial innovation throughout the ages. It is the question we try to answer in order to rationalize our own existence. It is the question that has generated the modern concepts of angst and alienation. The modern dilemma is that we are finding it increasingly difficult to rationalize our own existence and this leads to our subsequent feelings of purposelessness. Pascal wrote:
Pascal's despair is the first cry of modernist angst; a product of our own scientific progress. What, after all, is the point of our own individual, ephemeral lives on this small planet around a mediocre star in a midsized galaxy of some 300 billion stars whose closest galactic neighbor, Andromeda, contains one trillion stars, in an 'observable universe' that numbers two trillion galaxies (the largest containing 100 trillion stars)? The "observable universe" being just a tiny portion of the universe which may contain 500 trillion galaxies and might be an infinitesimal part of a multiverse containing trillions upon trillions of "universes"!
Increased awareness of the vastness of existence introduced an angst from which humanity has never recovered. Pascal wrote in the 17th century. What gloom are we supposed to feel today when "the infinite immensity of spaces" is immensely more immense? Never in history has Pascal's despair been so relevant. Even within the cosmically insignificant history of our own planet, what is the real significance of our own lives? Consider that Earth is 4.5 billion years old; that life arose 3.8 billion years ago; mammals 200 million years ago; primitive humans 2.5 million years ago; modern humans 150,000 years ago; recorded history 6,000 years ago; the Renaissance, Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment, Constitutionalism, Industrial Revolution and Democracy all within the last 500 years. Currently, humans have an 80-90 year lifespan, which might increase to 120-150 years by the end of this century. What is this in relation to the "eternity" which preceded human civilization on this planet and which will succeed it? Does the Cosmos 'care' who is elected President of the United States? Does the Cosmos 'care' about the 3.8 billion-year history of life on this planet? Would it lament if runaway global warming turned our planet into another Venus? When contemplating this time scale on the background of the vastness of our Cosmos, it is difficult not to plunge into existential desolation.
Consequently, by the 20th century, the elemental question for thoughtful people had become: is life worth living? Camus wrote "There is but one truly philosophical problem and that is suicide Whether or not the world has three dimensions or the mind nine or twelve categories comes afterward". Indeed, why not commit suicide and avoid the tribulations of a meaningless existence? Everything else, all our cultural and scientific product, is marginalia to this ultimate existential question.
The irony is that science that sublime creation of the human spirit reflecting human curiosity and imagination at its highest stage of development has revealed an existence of such vastness and complexity that it makes our collective and individual lives seem inconsequential. Even worse, science inexorably morphed into 'scientism' an "ism": an ideology that posited that things, issues, events or feelings which could not be described according to the canons of reductionist/empirical science were of no concern to the intellectually tough-minded (or did not even exist). Thus, behaviorism (the ultimate expression of scientism) claimed there really is no such thing as consciousness it is simply an invented construct used to explain behaviors. As Jacques Barzun put it, scientists seemed to take great pleasure in "being able to undeceive ones fellows"; to disabuse them of the superstitions of pre-science; the superstitions that love and purpose and concepts of honor and duty, are intrinsic to human existence. The 19th-century scientific mindset implied that "the only reality was fact, brute force, valueless existence, and bare survival".
Before Copernicus, medieval Europeans lived in a cozy universe. Earth was the center of creation, enveloped in the warm embrace of ever purer crystalline spheres that contained the planets and stars up to the very throne of God. God's full-time job was maintaining this physical order, keeping track of our behavior (for future reference regarding salvation) and, once in a while, interfering in the natural order with a miracle here or there. People knew that life on earth was temporary and a test of our moral stamina in facing physical pain and the various distresses of daily life in order to qualify for eternal life in the world to come. Temporal life was God's matriculation exam to qualify for heaven. Medieval Europeans knew that if they obeyed the rules and followed the dictates of the Church their suffering would be rewarded with eternal bliss in the world-to-come. Things might be dreadful now but suffering would end and confusion clarified in heaven. The Copernican Revolution introduced a kind of spiritual agoraphobiaby destroying this coziness; by making us aware of the vastness of existence. Angst and doubt about the meaning of our existence became our constant companions.
Human beings aren't just ARE; we are symbolic creatures that require meaning to survive. The Darwinian mechanism of physical survival is not a sufficient reason to survive; it is simply an explanation. We cannot rationalize our subjective physical survival without objective meaning. Why should we live? Existentialists propose we must 'invent' our own meaning. Is this even possible? Symbols and volitional reason are humanity's primary evolutionary survival mechanism. Birds fly, deer are swift, lions are powerful, while human beings think and they direct their thinking (volition) in terms of their symbols, values and meanings. Humanity has invented religions, myths, and social and cultural devices to express this inherent feature of human nature.
The human experience is future-directed; we implicitly assume it is leading to something of significance and this makes sense out of our lives. This is why we do not commit suicide. We assume that our individual lives have meaning. We assume (and recent science supports this assumption) that every individual is unique, that every individual is distinctive in the entire Cosmos, that in all of infinite nature, no one is entirely similar to each and every one of us. There is, of course, correspondence and species similarity connecting every human being, and probably all conscious beings in the Cosmos, by virtue of their consciousness. But our own individuality is a cosmic absolute, as is the uniqueness of every distinctive culture and civilization which is a product of self-reflective conscious life. Cosmic evolution produced our uniqueness and this uniqueness might be valuable to cosmic evolution. But unlike animals, whether our uniqueness is or is not valuable is entirely up to us. It is a volitional choice both on the individual and the civilizational level.
Realizing our distinctiveness is frightening. Many withdraw from the responsibility of their own individuality and try to imitate others (to conform), or surrender to the will of the external authority of state, ideology, guru, demagogue, religion or, what is most dangerous, the majority (the herd, the mob). Fear of our individuality serves as the psychological basis of despotism and religious fanaticism. But conformism is a spurious symbol of attachment because it is our very individual distinctness that empowers us to be part of human society. Distinctiveness is what both obligates and sustains society, because society is the mediator between the distinctiveness of individuals. In fulfilling this role, society complements what is lacking in every individual that composes it. This is also the case for most advanced animals and perhaps even for the environment at large. Indeed, we might perceive our planet's ecology as a living society sustained by the interaction between the numerous species and subspecies with the individual members of those species and sub-species without which those species, sub-species and individuals could not survive. Perhaps this is how we should view the Cosmos at large, as a giant society.
The Alienation 'Business'
Alienation theory is often promoted by people with ideological axes to grind. The radical left claims alienation is a disease of capitalism that can be cured by socialism. Environmentalists of the primitivist persuasion argue that it is a disease of urbanization and consumerism and that the "cure" is a return to a simple lifestyle on the land where we can get back to nature and discover our authentic selves. Cultural paleo-conservatives, such as T.S. Eliot, uneasy with the consequences of the Enlightenment, suggest that alienation is a disease of modernity itself, and the frantic unending change it generates, and, as Frye put it, can only be "cured" by returning to the past's social and theological certainties; "that to have a flourishing culture we should educate an elite, keep most people living in the same spot, and never disestablish the Church of England". There is something claustrophobic about these versions of alienation, which are detached from the cosmic context and reduced to the trivia of earthbound human society. The modern dilemma is certainly a sense of the meaningless of existence. But it is the immensity of existence itself that is the problem, not the consumer society or false consciousness.
Buttressing these three views of alienation is the pathology of nostalgia the "good old days" when people were whole and sure of who and what they were within the norms of family and community; the assumption always being that, in the past, family and community were healthier social constructs than today. This is a fatuous assumption for anyone with a minimal knowledge of social history. It is a silly escapism from the true scale of the problem. Woody Allen's movie, Midnight in Paris, lampoons this enduring pathology with exquisite irony. Eric Roll critiqued the desire "to re-establish a mythical golden age" by people who "cannot understand the forces which are transforming their own society". Peter Gay thought nostalgia to be "the most sophistic, most deceptive form regression can take". It certainly has no place in a Transhumanist worldview.
It is the human condition on the background of the vast, endless obscurity of space/time that causes alienation, not the city or the assembly line; not the consumer society or politicians. It is the very material prosperity of modernity, which has afforded us the time and ability to reflect on this human condition that generates angst. It is a real anxiety, not an artificial one caused by the wrong kind of social environment or false consciousness. It is a cosmic alienation, not amenable to therapy or social revolution, but only to substantive confrontation.
Capitalism and the consumerism it produced are consequences of the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment. They have not caused alienation; they have just made us aware by providing the material ease that allows us to reflect on the human condition and afforded us the knowledge to better understand what that condition is. It is the apple of knowledge that is the cause; it is asking questions that have no answers that are the cause; it is being thrown out of the 'Garden of Eden' of our own smug ignorance that is the cause. At best, one can say that our frantic 'busyness' and consumerism are escapes from the cause; they are the effect, not the cause.
The developments of science in describing the vastness and the minuteness of existence have had profound philosophical and psychological consequences. The abstruseness of religious belief and the rise of Darwinism and Freudianism have undermined our civilizational self-esteem. If we are related to monkeys and not to God, and if we really want to do to our mothers what Freud says we want to do, it is difficult to sustain a transcendent view of human 'being'.
Without comprehensive civilizational myths, how do we even address the mystery of existence the fact that there is an 'is'? We range from wonder at our own scientific ability to uncover the mysteries of the "mind of God" to a Pascalian melancholy about the meaninglessness of life. Anxiety about our very existence dominates our spiritual ecology: nihilism, existentialism, and cultural relativism. We hide from this behind the deceptions of fundamentalist religiosity or the self-imposed haze of drugs, shopping, social activism and busyness for its own sake.
The Cosmodeistic Response
The Cosmodeistic Hypothesis is an iteration of Pandeism not God becoming the Universe but rather the Cosmos becoming God; not "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth", but, rather, "in the end an evolving cosmos will have created God". It posits that the Big Bang that created our Cosmos was a local event in an infinite Universe that contains an infinite number of finite cosmoses: the multiverse. Our Cosmos is an evolving finite domain/process fashioned by the natural workings of infinite Nature creating ever higher levels of complexification. Consciousness has been an inexorable consequence of this evolutionary complexification. Assuming evolution is as eternal as existence itself, it is self-evident that consciousness must eventually evolve into supra-consciousness and then into supra-supra-consciousness at various places in the Cosmos.
This evolutionary process will continue until a consciousness is created that will appear to us as if it were a God; the Godding of the Cosmos being an inherent characteristic of its evolving actuality. We are an integral and vital part of this cosmic evolution. What our species does on this planet will contribute to or detract from this process. What we do as individuals will contribute to or detract from this process. Our individual lives have cosmic consequence no matter how infinitesimally small (similar to the butterfly effect of chaos theory). The very chaos of our existence is the vital ingredient creating the cosmos (order) of existence.
This is to place the emergence of self-reflective consciousness at the center of the cosmic drama (Jung's Divine Drama); to affirm that while the Cosmos is not teleological and has no purpose i.e. that it doesn't represent a planned supernatural drama with a specific end as the monotheistic religions would have it [Hinduism and Buddhism don't seem to have a problem with a non-teleological existence] cosmic purpose has been created as a consequence of the evolutionary cosmic process. This is a neo-teleological perspective, the civilizational consequences of which would be as profound as those of monotheism. This would be the proper antidote to Pascal's despair, rather than a self-deceptive return to the 'eternal verities' of the monotheistic religions or invented meanings.
Most pre-supra-conscious civilizations will destroy themselves by failing to meet the challenges of their own nuclear stage of development, by ecological collapse, or failure of collective will. But a sufficient number will survive, or will have developed by different means, and be capable of advancing to a supra-conscious phase. A percentage of these pre-hyper-conscious life forms will also conclude they must strive to become part of the Godding of the Cosmos. This is assumed in the name of 'cosmic humility'. If individuals on this planet have conceived this concept it is certain that other conscious beings in the Cosmos have conceived it. This is a variation of the ontological argument for the existence of God. Since one cannot conceive of a concept related to cosmic evolution greater than the Cosmos evolving into a 'God' and since the Cosmos is producing ever more complex constructs, most particularly consciousness, as the salient characteristic inherent in this evolution, it is self-evident that a 'God' would be the final stage of cosmic evolution.
Amongst those civilizations pursuing this ambition, an infinitesimal percentage (but also great in aggregate number) will succeed in transcending their bodies, by scientific and technical means, thus isolating and enhancing the most essential part of their 'humanness' their consciousness. They will, in effect, have become pure consciousness, or if you will, pure spirit expanding throughout the Cosmos. Arthur Clark in 2001A Space Odyssey anticipated this with the kind of speculative imagination we should be cultivating in ourselves and in our children:
evolution was driving toward new goals. The first ... had long since come to the limits of flesh and blood; as soon as their machines were better than their bodies it was time to move. First their brains, and then their thoughts alone, they transformed into shining new homes of metal and plastic they had learned to store knowledge in the structure of space itself, and to preserve their thoughts for eternity in frozen lattices of light. They could become creatures of radiation, free at last from the tyranny of matter. Into pure energy, therefore, they presently transformed themselves "
Clark's "creatures of radiation", as well as the stages leading up to it, might legitimately be called Posthuman Transhumanism being a necessary link in the evolutionary chain of consciousness towards Posthuman Godness.
The subsequent expansion of this higher consciousness throughout the Cosmos will be unfettered by physical limitations and eventually consciousness will fill the entire Cosmos. Consciousness will have become one with a Cosmos that has dissolved into pure radiation as an inevitable consequence of entropy. Thus the Cosmos will become in its entirety a conscious universal being i.e. a 'God'. Cosmodeism posits God as the consequence of the Cosmos and not as its cause. The fateful question that every conscious civilization throughout the Cosmos must eventually address is: will we take part in this cosmic race for survival and strive to survive in the cosmic 'End of Days', or will we perish along with the rest of cosmic organization? Will we accept the limitations of our physicality or will we try to transcend them?
This would be a volitional teleology; part of the neo-teleological interpretation of cosmic evolution. Certain cosmic developments are determined. But whether 'we' will be part of these cosmic developments depends on the volition of conscious beings on this and other planets. Doing so would guarantee the cosmic significance of the billions of years of life on this planet. Failure to do so would degrade the cosmic significance of the entire evolutionary drama of life on this planet to nothing more than a statistical contribution to cosmic probability 'striving' to become God. This is not New Age fantasy celebrating the mystical, or science fiction that violates the known laws of nature. Science is as necessary for this as oxygen is to life. But science alone is not sufficient. Science cannot progress without informed intuition and educated guesses.
Historical Intimations of the Cosmodeistic Hypothesis
Notions of God as the consequence rather than the cause of the Cosmos are not novel. Israeli thinker Mordechai Nessyahu laid the groundwork with Cosmotheism. He conjectured, that:
Previously, philosopher Samuel Alexander advocated Emergent Evolution producing emergent qualities. He wrote: "God is the whole universe engaged in the movement of the world to a higher level of existence. Teilhard de Chardin viewed God as both the cause and the consequence (the alpha and omega) of cosmic existence and evolution. He saw the end of human history as pure consciousness becoming one with the Alpha God to create the Omega God. Philosopher Benedikt Gcke has written: "the history of the world is the one infinite life of God, and we are part of the one infinite divine being [italics mine]. We are therefore responsible for the future development of the life of the divine being." Architect and philosopher Paolo Soleri saw technology as enabling conscience life to evolve into 'God'.
According to historian Robert Tucker German philosophy is rife with human ambition to be Godlike. "The movement of thought from Kant to Hegel revolved in a fundamental sense around the idea of mans self-realization as a godlike being, or alternatively as God". What attracted Marx to Hegel was that "he found in Hegel the idea that man is God". History for Hegel was God realizing itself through the vehicle of man. This is the underlying implication of all Enlightenment thought: when we say "what will history say about us?" we are really substituting history for God. The Process Philosophy of Whitehead as well as Emergent Evolution, and Spiritual Evolution (consciousness as an inevitable component of evolution) are also intimations of this same notion. Recently Dr. Ted Chu (2014) in Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential: A Cosmic Vision of Our Future Evolutionargued the case for the eventuality of a Cosmic Being.
Our legacy religions also contain hints hiding in plain sight. The Hebrew words for God are verbs, not nouns: Yehova (will become manifest), yehiya (will be), eheye asher eheye (I will be what I will be). In Biblical Hebrew these are imperfect verbs (consider the irony of that the "perfect" being described in the imperfect) and in Modern Hebrew the future tense; an intimation of the ancient mind that humans are an integral part of a divine process (that we call evolution). The Talmud enjoins us to be partners (with God) in the act of creation creation as an ongoing never-ending process. Interpretations of the Kabbalah perceive the role of human individuals in sharing in this Godding of the universe perceiving Godding as the very essence of existence.
Certain Christian heritages inspired Teilhard de Chardin and Process Theology. "Hindus believe that humans can and should merge into the universal soul of the Cosmos the Atman" (Harari 2017, 444). Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan anticipated volitional teleology when he asserted that "Man is not a detached spectator of a progress immanent in human history, but an active agent remolding the world nearer to his ideals". Sri Aurobindo's concept of Atman approaches the concept of the supra-conscious.
Current science writing is replete with intimations of the Cosmodeistic hypothesis. Freeman Dyson's Infinite in All Directions; Heinz Pagels' The Cosmic Code; Paul Davis's The Cosmic Blueprint; Louise Young's The Unfinished Universe; Daniel Layzer's Cosmogenesis; Prigogine/Stenger's Order out of Chaos; Ervin Laszlo's The Self Actualizing Cosmos; and others. In response to an inquiry by a schoolgirl as to his religious beliefs, Albert Einstein responded " the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive."
Civilizational Significances of Cosmodeism
Postmodernism, angst and alienation are poor intellectual and spiritual fare to feed to future generations. One cannot produce robust, self-reliant, intellectually independent and responsible citizens of the planetary future on such insipid fare. Here the Cosmodeistic Hypothesis could play an important intermediate role. It could contribute to moderating alienation by presenting a meta-cosmological vision capable of assuaging some of what ails human society in this century.
Psychology certainly hasn't had a substantive impact on problems of angst (which is really the problem of meaning). Freud, Jung, Adler, Rank, Maslow, and Frankl all linked meaning to mental health. But psychology, unlike religion, does not presume to provide meaning; it simply preaches that meaning is meaningful. Jung asserted that "Man cannot stand a meaningless life"; that "Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness"; "That gives peace, when people feel that they are living the symbolic life, that they are actors in the divine drama [italics mine]. That gives the only meaning to human life; everything else is banal and you can dismiss it". But after telling us that we are sick because we don't have meaning in our lives he coyly avers that "psychology is concerned with the act of seeing and not with the construction of new religious truths". In other words, 'life is meaningless without the divine drama but don't expect me to provide it.' For Victor Frankl, finding meaning in one's life was essential to the therapeutic process. Certainly, no one dealt more with meaning as it pertains to mental health; witness the titles of his books: Man's Search for Meaning (1946); The Will to Meaning (1969); The Unheard Cry for Meaning (1978); Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning (1997).
But no psychologist offers a convincing worldview by which a modern rational person might infer meaning. Psychology satisfies itself with the search for meaning but never supplies an answer to the question "WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?" And this is why, at the end of the day, psychology has failed, and why it may have caused more psychological damage than remedy. Preaching the subjective need for meaning while not providing objective meaning tends to increase anxiety, not mitigate it.
This situation has had serious subversive socio/cultural effects well described by C.S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man. Lewis intimates that unless we reenchant existence and dwell on the objective wonder of existence, the human condition will become so enervated that it will endanger civilization itself. While Lewis was himself a big 'R' religious believer (the Anglican Communion) he argued his case from a small 'r' sense of religious awe at the facticity of existence. He did not believe that our ever-growing ability to explain the constituent facts of existence took anything away from the wondrous facticity of existence as a whole that existence per se is sublime. As he put it: "The feelings which make a man call an object sublime are not sublime feelings but feelings of veneration".
Here Lewis reveals a profound fundamental truth about the human spirit; the intrinsic need to venerate something greater than ourselves. Veneration is as universal a human attribute as language. There is not a culture on earth that does not have a deeply rooted history of veneration of one form or another. Veneration is to the soul what food is to the body. Every historical endeavor to do away with inherited modes of veneration has resulted in alternative venerations: ideologies, leaders, causes, "activism", etc. Alternative venerations have caused great horrors. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Stalinist Russia and Maoist China promoted alternative venerations, reviving a sense of purpose within totalitarian societies. As Jacques Barzun observed "What has happened [in these countries] can happen wherever the need for enthusiasm and action is given a goal. It is easy enough to manufacture slogans out of race, autarky, the Cultural Revolution and make them seem genuine outlets from the impasse "
As an antidote to the totalitarian 'solution' for veneration, Cosmodeism proposes we venerate existence itself and our own existence within that existence; the fact that existence exists, that the 'is' is the ultimate mystery. To realize Emil Durkheim's observation that when we serve something greater than ourselves we uplift ourselves, we must acknowledge that some things, some values, some emotions "merit our approval or disapproval, our reverence or our contempt". If we don't find the 'greater than' in the concept of 'God', or Godding or other transcendent ideas, we will find it in fascist leaders, leftwing icons, New Age cults, or pop stars. If our need to venerate something 'greater than' is not directed at something affirmative, it will be directed at something negative. What could be more positive and spiritually satisfying than venerating the Godding of the Cosmos and our own part in that process?
I believe Cosmodeism can become the foundation for a Transhumanist Theology that can inspire human beings to strive to become part of the Divine Drama (the Godding of the Cosmos); a theology that emphasizes that every one of us is part of the Divine Drama by virtue of our individual existence; that every one of us affects the development of the Divine Drama by our planetary actions (a cosmic butterfly effect); that our individual existence is inherently meaningful but it is up to us to make it actively purposeful by volitionally striving to transcend the limitations of humanness to become Transcendent humans; a bridge across time towards an end called 'God'.
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Posted: December 13, 2019 at 2:09 pm
Welcome to this years ML Conference and Voice Conference in Berlin! Keynote speaker Dr. Janina Loh explores the moral questions that go hand in hand with the construction and use of robotsfrom a critical overview of some fields of robotics to practical implications. Watch our live stream here if you couldnt make it to Berlin this year.
Since the middle of the 20th century, robots have found their way into more and more areas of human life. From industry and its first robot Unimate over military and warfare to service, care, medicine and household, robots are used either today or in the foreseeable future.
The moral questions raised in the construction and use of robots are the subject of the philosophical discipline of robot ethics. Because with robots as specific technologies, the values implemented in them and the (social) consequences resulting from them, moral questions always go hand in hand. In a first part, this lecture gives a critical overview of some fields of robotics and the ethical questions that arise here. In a second step, the fields of work of the philosophical discipline of robotics ethics will be presented, before what has been said is concluded with practical implications and a plea.
Starts Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 09:00
Dr. Janina Loh(ne Sombetzki) is university assistant (Post-Doc) in the field of philosophy of technology and media at the University of Vienna. She studied at the Humboldt University Berlin and wrote her dissertation (2009-2013) on the issue of responsibility Verantwortung als Begriff, Fhigkeit, Aufgabe. Eine Drei-Ebenen-Analyse (Springer 2014). After a post-doc position at the Christian-Albrechts-University Kiel (2013-2016), Janina Loh is now (since April 2016) in Vienna. She just published the first German Introduction to Trans- and Posthumanism (Junius 2018) and is about to publish an Introduction to Robot Ethics in German language (Suhrkamp 2019). She habilitates on the Critical-Posthumanist Elements in Hannah Arendts Thinking and Work (working title). Janina Lohs main research interests lie in the field of trans- and posthumanism (especially critical posthumanism), robot ethics, feminist philosophy of technology, responsibility research, Hannah Arendt, theories of judgement, and ethics in the sciences.
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Posted: November 20, 2019 at 5:48 am
About Posthumanism TheoryIn as brief a definition as possible, humanism is centered on the idea that human needs, values, concerns, and ideals are of the highest importance, or that the human being is the epitome of being. As a development of this idea, posthumanism is based on the notion that humankind can transcend the limitations of the physical human form. In a traditional sense, humans have been considered to be solidly and indisputably classified as high-functioning animals, but animals nonetheless. In this way, the same biological and physical constraints that limit the entire animal kingdom tether humankind to that base level. Posthumanism Theory suggests it is both possible and for the best for humans to attempt to surpass these limitations, often through the use of technology to augment biology (in a way, using the physiological capacity of the human brain to accelerate the functions of the entire human form).This progressive mentality is an important aspect of the human condition to consider in the course of modern document design and technical rhetoric. Operating under posthumanism ideals requires authors and creators to venture into the hypothetical and the unexplored because these are the areas that build upon and even improve what we already have established. Posthumanism holds this sentiment at heartthe idea that we, as humans, have no inherent barrier to making our physical and mental functionality much more efficient and powerful than it currently is. To apply these ideals to writing and rhetoric, there is the potential to incorporate the conventions of posthumanism both integrally and progressively. Integrally, a posthuman text should reflect the central ideas of posthumanism: what can authors do to make their texts transcend the perceived limitations of text and writing? How can documents be made to do more than what they currently can do, and how can their readability, usability, and accessibility be expanded? Progressively, a posthuman text should relatably adapt for evolutions in interaction: it might explore such questions as how will human interaction with documents change in the next 10, 20, 50, or 100 years? How can texts encourage mental expansion? What changes in technology can be predicted and accounted for in the delivery and interaction with documents and writing?Progressions in Usability and FunctionalityWhile the primary focus of posthumanist progression lies in the realm of higher technology, there are developments both in effect and yet to come that have much to do with technical writing and rhetoric. For many, many centuries, writing has been constrained to paper with static text. In more recent decades, the advent of computers and the Internet have caused documents to evolve and adapt. Institution of newer technologies allows for new methods of interactivity, which allow different senses to be utilized by human beings who interact with such documents. Through the use of technology, document designers and writers can allow their readers to interact at a more functional level which is more natural and fully engaging than mere reading.The qualities of new media enable documents and their interactive elements to tap into the human mind to a higher degree. In that way, technology is being utilized to better the human experience and tap into the full range of human capability. New developments in technology such as mobile phones, touch screens, e-readers, and other similar technology afford better interactivity and have evolved the way humans interact with their professional and social worlds. Technology is always changing to accommodate more natural, intuitive means of interactivitybut the most posthuman aspect of this technological innovation creep is the ubiquity of technology that allows delivery of writing and documents. Technology has filled in an accessibility gap that now grants access to documents and writing not only on printed paper, but on desktop computers, laptop computers, smartphones, and other such devices. This technology augments human beings' functionality from two directionsit enhances the ability of the audience to read and respond to writing, and it also enhances the ability of the author to create and distribute his or her writing.Posthumanist rhetoric requires a full understanding of the operation of the human being as an entity, both collectively as an audience and singularly as individual readers. Writing and rhetoric are able to be at their most posthuman when they utilize technology to transcend the physicality of humans as well as the temporality of their existence. In this way, authors begin accommodating more means of delivery and spreading the availability and accessibility of documents in addition to making documents available at much more timely intervalseven as far as on-demand. Posthuman authors who embrace technological advances gain new dimensions of interactivity both within their text as well as in response to their text. A posthuman rhetoric mindset enables the document to blossom further as a medium as it works in harmony with the qualities of its audience and their humanity.
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Posted: at 5:48 am
This entry originally appeared in Rosi Braidotti and Maria Hlavajova, eds., Posthuman Glossary (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). Reproduced with permission.
Critical posthumanism is a theoretical approach which maps and engages with the ongoing deconstruction of humanism (cf. Badmington 2000). It differentiates between the figure of the posthuman (and its present, past and projected avatars, like cyborgs, monsters, zombies, ghosts, angels etc.) and posthumanism as the social discourse (in the Foucauldian sense) which negotiates the pressing question of what it means to be human under the conditions of globalisation, technoscience, late capitalism and climate change (often, very problematically, by deliberately blurring the distinctions between science fiction and science fact [cf. science faction in Herbrechter, 2013]).
The prefix post- (in analogy with the discussion of the postmodern and postmodernism following Lyotard ) has a double meaning: on the one hand, it signifies a desire or indeed a need to somehow go beyond humanism (or the human), while on the other hand, since the post- also necessarily repeats what it prefixes, it displays an awareness that neither humanism nor the human can in fact be overcome in any straightforward dialectical or historical fashion (for example, in the sense: after the human, the posthuman).
The critical in the phrase critical posthumanism gestures towards the more complicated and non-dialectical relationships between the human and the posthuman (as well as their respective dependence on the nonhuman). Posthumanism in this critical sense functions more like an anamnesis and a rewriting of the human and humanism (i.e. rewriting humanity, in analogy with Lyotards notion of rewriting modernity). Critical posthumanism asks a number of questions that address these complications: how did we come to think of ourselves as human? Or, what exactly does it mean to be human (especially at a time when some humans have apparently decided that they are becoming or have already become posthuman)? What are the motivations for this posthumanising process and when did it start? What are its implications for nonhuman others (e.g. the environment, animals, machines, God, etc.)?
The adjective critical in the phrase critical posthumanism thus signifies at least two things. It refers to the difference between a more or less uncritical or popular (e.g. in many science fiction movies or popular science magazines) and a philosophical and reflective approach that investigates the current postanthropocentric desire. This desire articulates itself, on the one hand, in the form of an anticipated transcendence of the human condition (usually through various scenarios of disembodiment an approach (and an entire movement) that is best designated by the term transhumanism) and, on the other hand, through a (rather suspicious) attempt by humans to argue themselves out of the picture precisely at a time when climate change caused by the impact of human civilisation (cf. Anthropocene) calls for urgent and responsible, human action.
The other meaning of critical is a defence and possibly a reinvention of some humanist values and methodologies which, in the face of a fundamental transformation provoked by digitalisation and the advent of ubiquitous computing and social media, appear to have become obsolete, or to be in urgent need of revision (esp. critical methodologies which are related to traditional forms of literacy, reading and thinking). The question here is how to remain critical in the sense of developing reading techniques, forms of conceptualisations and subjectivities that are both self-reflexive and aware of their own genealogies (i.e. able to stay critically connected with humanist traditions and esp. literal, literary and textual approaches).
Studies of literatures 21st-century extensions have questioned the broader resonances of the idea that the literary is currently being overtaken by processes of digitalisation, globalisation and technoscientific change. In this current supposedly post-literary moment, a critical posthumanist (and countertextual) approach is both aware and wary of the contemporary desire to leave the humanist apparatus of literacy and its central institution of literature, with all its social, economic and cultural-political implications, its regimes of power and its aesthetics behind.
To counter the trend of seeing posthumanism merely as the next theory fashion, my Posthumanism: A Critical Analysis takes as its starting point the question as to what extent poststructuralism and deconstruction have anticipated current posthumanist formulations and critiques of subjectivity. This aspect is particularly important with regard to the current discussion about the relevance and future role of the humanities. The first academic publications that systematically engage with the idea of the posthuman and posthumanism appear in the late 1990s and early 2000s (in books and articles by Neil Badmington, Rosi Braidotti, Elaine L. Graham, N. Katherine Hayles, Cary Wolfe and others), all of which approach posthumanism through a more or less poststructuralist or deconstructive lens. They do so, however, by embracing two new aspects: a return to or of the question of technology (as it had been provocatively formulated by Heidegger) and the question of the future of the humanities.
An increasing part of the academy and the (theoretical) humanities in particular have been embracing this new context to form new, interdisciplinary alliances with the sciences and critical science studies (e.g. with Bruno Latours actor-network-theory, speculative realism, or new feminist materialism). One major aspect concerns the redefinition of the relationship between humans and technology or the role of the history of technics for human (and non-human) evolution. Donna Haraways early work on the cyborg (in the 1980s) received the widespread discussion it deserved. Attempts to rethink the ontological aspect of technology and the political role of technological determinism, however, also look at previous philosophies of technology (esp. in Heidegger, Ellul and Simondon), most prominently, in Bernard Stieglers work. In the aftermath of the so-called science wars, which highlighted at once the necessity of cultural recuperations of scientific practice and the call for a new dialogue between the sciences and the humanities, the new or posthumanities (cf. the title of Cary Wolfes influential series with University of Minnesota Press) are set to overcome the traditional two cultures divide at last.
This is, however, happening under extremely adverse conditions: the material base of an increasingly globalised advanced and neoliberal capitalism, and the transition from analog (humanist, lettered, book or text-based) to digital (posthumanist, code, data or information-based) societies, cultures and economies. The currently emerging posthumanities therefore have to engage with the positive but also the problematic aspects of the transformative potential that a new dialogue or alliance between the humanities and the sciences contains. The focus on the posthuman as a discursive object, on posthumanism as a social discourse and on posthumanisation as an ongoing historical and ontological process, allows both communities the humanities and sciences to create new encounters and test new hypotheses that may lead to greater political and ethical awareness of the place of the human, the nonhuman and their environments (especially in connection with pressing issues like climate change, depletion of natural resources, the destruction of biodiversity, global migration flows, terrorism and insecurity, biopolitics etc.).
Basically, what is at stake is a rethinking of the relationship between human agency, the role of technology and environmental and cultural factors from a post- or non-anthropocentric perspective. Postanthropocentric posthumanities are still about humans and the humanities but only in so far as these are placed within a larger, ecological, picture (cf. for example the institutionalisation of medical humanities, environmental humanities, and digital humanities).The latter, in particular, will have to address the role of new and converging media and their social and cultural implications, as well as the proliferation of digital and virtual realities and their biopolitical dimensions (e.g. new forms of surveillance and commodification, new subjectivities and biomedia [cf. Thacker, 2004]).
Critical posthumanism thus draws together a number of aspects that constitute our early twenty-first-century reality and cosmology and links these back genealogically to their beginnings and prefigurations within humanism itself (cf. Herbrechter & Callus, 2005 and 2012).
Coventry University, November 2017
 Neil Badmington, ed., Posthumanism (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2000).
 Stefan Herbrechter, Posthumanism: A Critical Analysis (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013), pp.107-34.
 Jean-Franois Lyotard,The Postmodern Explained to Children: Correspondence 1982-1985 (Sydney: Power Publications, 1992).
 Jean-Franois Lyotard, The Inhuman: Reflections on Time, trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991).
 See for instance the journal, CounterText (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press), accessible at: <http://www.euppublishing.com/journal/count>.
 Herbrechter, 2013.
 Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. William Lovitt (New York: Harper and Row, 1977) pp.283-318.
 Rosi Braidotti (2013), The Posthuman (Polity Press: Cambridge).
 Eugene Thacker (2004), Biomedia (University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis).
Ellul, Jacques, Le Systme technicien (Paris: Le Cherche Midi, 2004 ).
Graham, Elaine P., Representations of the Post/Human: Monsters, Aliens and Others in Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002).
Haraway, Donna, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).
Haraway, Donna, Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991).
Hayles, N. Katherine, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999).
Herbrechter, Stefan and Ivan Callus, eds., Posthumanist Shakespeares (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
Herbrechter, Stefan and Ivan Callus, eds., Cy-Borges: Memories of the Posthuman in the Work of Jorge Luis Borges (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2005).
Latour, Bruno, Reassessing the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).
Simondon, Gilbert, Sur la technique (1953-1983) (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2014).
Stiegler, Bernard, Technics and Time, (3 vols.) (Stanford: Stanford University Press, (2008-2011).
Wolfe, Cary, What Is Posthumanism? (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010).
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Posted: August 11, 2017 at 6:06 pm
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Dr Harry T Dyer is a digital sociologist and lecturer in education at the University of East Anglia.
Harry joined UEA as a lecturer after successfully completing his PhD with UEA in the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning. He has a broad academic background, with degrees in linguistics and social science research methods, as well as his ongoing research in online identity presentation.
Harrys current research is in the emerging field of Digital Sociology, in which he looks at how social media platform design affects identity presentation and social interaction. His research proposes a new theoretical framework through which to consider the relationship between platform design and user that results in unique but bound identity performances.
Harry has taught on a range of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, including courses on research methodology, social theory, media and education, and research ethics. Given his broad academic background, Harrys research and teaching interests are equally expansive, and include education, digital sociology, identity theory, social theory, science and technology studies, research methodology, ethics, sociolinguistics, posthumanism, poststructuralism, and media.
Posted: July 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm
Cyborg anthropology is a discipline that studies the interaction between humanity and technology from an anthropological perspective. The discipline is relatively new, but offers novel insights on new technological advances and their effect on culture and society.
Donna Haraways 1985 ""A Cyborg Manifesto" was the first widely-read academic text to explore the philosophical and sociological ramifications of the cyborg. A sub-focus group within the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting in 1992 presented a paper entitled "Cyborg Anthropology", which cites Haraway's "Manifesto". The group described cyborg anthropology as the study of how humans define humanness in relationship to machines, as well as the study of science and technology as activities that can shape and be shaped by culture. This includes studying the ways that all people, including those who are not scientific experts, talk about and conceptualize technology. The sub-group was very closely related to STS and the Society for the Social Studies of Science. More recently, Amber Case has been responsible for explicating the concept of Cyborg Anthropology to the general public. She believes that a key aspect of cyborg anthropology is the study of networks of information among humans and technology.
Many academics have helped develop cyborg anthropology, and many more who haven't heard the term still conduct research that may be considered cyborg anthropology. Amber Case likes to tell people that the actual number of self-described cyborg anthropologists is "about seven".The Cyborg Anthropology Wiki, overseen by Case, aims to make the discipline as accessible as possible, even to people who do not have a background in anthropology.
Cyborg anthropology uses traditional methods of anthropological research like ethnography and participant observation, accompanied by statistics, historical research, and interviews. By nature it is a multidisciplinary study; cyborg anthropology can include aspects of Science and Technology Studies, cybernetics, feminist theory, and more.
The object of study for cyborg anthropology is the cyborg. Originally coined in a 1960 paper about space exploration, the term is short for cybernetic organism. A cyborg is traditionally defined as a system with both organic and inorganic parts. In the narrowest sense of the word, cyborgs are people with machinated body parts. These cyborg parts may be restorative technologies that help a body function where the organic system has failed, like pacemakers, insulin pumps, and bionic limbs, or enhanced technologies that improve the human body beyond its natural state. In the broadest sense, all human interactions with technology could qualify as a cyborg. Most cyborg anthropologists lean towards the latter view of the cyborg; some, like Amber Case, even claim that humans are already cyborgs because people's daily life and sense of self is so intertwined with technology. Haraway's "Cyborg Manifesto" suggests that technology like virtual avatars, artificial insemination, sexual reassignment surgery, and artificial intelligence might make dichotomies of sex and gender irrelevant, even nonexistent. She goes on to say that other human distinctions (like life and death, human and machine, virtual and real) may similarly disappear in the wake of the cyborg.
Digital anthropology is concerned with how digital advances are changing how people live their lives, as well as consequent changes to how anthropologists do ethnography and to a lesser extent how digital technology can be used to represent and undertake research. Cyborg anthropology also looks at disciplines like genetics and nanotechnology, which are not strictly digital. Cybernetics/informatics covers the range of cyborg advances better than the label digital.
Questions of subjectivity, agency, actors, and structures have always been of interest in social and cultural anthropology. In cyborg anthropology the question of what type of cybernetic system constitutes an actor/subject becomes all the more important. Is it the actual technology that acts on humanity (the Internet), the general techno-culture (Silicon Valley), government sanctions (net neutrality), specific innovative humans (Steve Jobs), or some type of combination of these elements? Some academics believe that only humans have agency and technology is an object humans act upon, while others argue that humans have no agency and culture is entirely shaped by material and technological conditions. Actor-network theory (ANT), proposed by Bruno Latour, is a theory that helps scholars understand how these elements work together to shape techno-cultural phenomena. Latour suggests that actors and the subjects they act on are parts of larger networks of mutual interaction and feedback loops. Humans and technology both have the agency to shape one another. ANT best describes the way cyborg anthropology approaches the relationship between humans and technology.
Researchers like Kathleen Richardson have conducted ethnographic research on the humans who build and interact with artificial intelligence. Recently, Stuart Geiger, a PhD student at University of California, Berkeley suggested that robots may be capable of creating a culture of their own, which researchers could study with ethnographic methods. Anthropologists react to Geiger with skepticism because, according to Geiger, they believe that culture is specific to living creatures and ethnography limited to human subjects.
The most basic definition of anthropology is the study of humans. However, cyborgs, by definition, describe something that is not entirely an organic human. Moreover, limiting a discipline to the study of humans may be difficult the more that technology allows humans to transcend the normal conditions of organic life. The prospect of a posthuman condition calls into question the nature and necessity of a field focused on studying humans.
Techno-sociologist Zeynep Tufekci argues that any symbolic expression of ourselves, even the most ancient cave painting, can be considered "posthuman" because it exists outside of our physical bodies. To her, this means that the human and the "posthuman" have always existed alongside one another, and anthropology has always concerned itself with the posthuman as well as the human. Neil L. Whitehead and Michael Welsch point out that the concern that posthumanism will decenter the human in anthropology ignores the discipline's long history of engaging with the unhuman (like spirits and demons that humans believe in) and the culturally "subhuman" (like marginalized groups within a society).
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Posted: July 5, 2017 at 9:03 am
Everything has been said, but not everything has been said superbly, and even if it had been, everything must be said freshly over and over again. Paul Horgan
The times they are a-changing, especially in the realm of self-publishing.Acres of verbiage have been expended on the pros and cons of authors doing it for themselves.We will have to content ourselves here with saying, Not all tomes produced in this fashion are valueless. Heres one worthy candidate: Cherubimbo (Xlibris, trade paper, $19.99, 190 pages, ISBN 978-1-4628-4731-0) by Gabriel S. de Anda. With prior publication credits in several respectable zines, these stories come pre-vetted by an editorial acumen that is so often absent in other DIY productions. A practicing lawyer, de Anda infuses a couple of pieces with stefnal legal expertise, in the vein of Charles Harness. Time travel offers him lots of room for playful speculation, particularly in the emotionally resonant 1969. And some colorful posthumanism informs My Year To Be A Horse. De Andas touch is solid yet light-hearted, a winning one-two punch.
Paul Di Filippo 2013
Here are a two more books by Gabriel S. de Anda.
Posted: July 3, 2017 at 8:04 am
Super Sad True Love Story is the third novel by American writer Gary Shteyngart. The novel takes place in a near-future dystopian New York where life is dominated by media and retail.
The son of a Russian immigrant, protagonist Leonard (Lenny) Abramov, a middle-aged, middle class, otherwise unremarkable man whose mentality is still in the past century, falls madly in love with Eunice Park, a young Korean-American struggling with materialism and the pressures of her traditional Korean family. The chapters alternate between profuse diary entries from the old-fashioned Lenny and Eunice's biting e-mail correspondence on her "GlobalTeens" account. In the background of what appears to be a love story that oscillates between superficiality and despair, a grim political situation unravels. America is on the brink of economic collapse, threatened by its Chinese creditors. In the meantime, the totalitarian Bipartisan government's main mission is to encourage and promote consumerism while eliminating political dissidents.
The novel won the Salon Book Award (Fiction, 2010) and the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize (2011). It was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (Fiction & Poetry, 2010), New York Times bestseller (Fiction, 2010), and Amazon's Best Books of the Month in August 2010. It was named one of the best books of the year by numerous publications, including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, O:The Oprah Magazine, Maureen Corrigan of NPR, and Slate. The literary critic Raymond Malewitz has recently published an article on "digital posthumanism" in the novel in the journal Arizona Quarterly.
Ben Stiller and Media Rights Capital are producing a TV series for Showtime.
Posted: June 29, 2017 at 11:06 am
What is Posthumanism?Edit
According to the Oxford English Dictionary:
1. post-humanism: A system of thought formulated in reaction to the basic tenets of humanism, esp. its focus on humanity rather than the divine or supernatural
2. posthumanism: The idea that humanity can be transformed, transcended, or eliminated either by technological advances or the evolutionary processl artistic, scientific, or philosophical practice which also reflects this belief
...to find more information on this history of the word Posthumanism, click HERE
N. Katherine Hayles was born in St. Louis Missouri on December 16, 1943. She attended Rochester Institute of Technology where she earned a B.S. in Chemistry. She then attended the California Institute of Technology and earned a M.S. in Chemistry as well. In 1977, she went to the University of Rochester and earned a Ph.D. in English Literature.
N. Katherine Hayles is popular critic of posthumanism. She is most known for being the author of "How We Became Posthuman". She believes that although we can put our intellect into another machine, we still need to keep in mind who we are and that our information is not completely transferable-- we still need the use of our own bodies. She has become a critic to many believers of posthumanism who believe the body acts as a piece of hardware just as any other computer.
thumb|316px|left|Interview with N. Katherine Hayles by Stacey Cochran
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Hayles' paper on posthumanism intertwine with one another as Hayles believes in a "Separation between body and mind is a consequence of historical change rather than what must inevitably happen as part of their materialized life." As we progress further into a new age of humans slowly developing into an android-like state (people getting prosthesis to help them function better) we are not going against humanity but simply flowing with the tides of history. With this kind of change, we are brought with the question: what makes us human? In DADES the only method to determine who is a human and android is by one concept: empathy. Some of the humans follow a religion known as Mercerism which is based on empathy. By utilizing an empathy box, it links them to other humans as they take upon the obstacles that Mercer faces as a cohesive unit. We are brought upon a concept of how humans, identify ourselves as individuals and as members of a group through Mercerism by being able to feel empathy towards each other. The novel toys with the concept of expanding this group to the few existing animals on Earth, and even androids. These androids are advanced to the point where it is only possible to determine whether or not one is human or android by a test involving empathy. When the bountyhunter in DADES, Deckard, has to retire these androids, he begins to ponder if he in fact is human. He believes that if being human is the ability to feel empathy, then how can he truly be human without feeling empathy when he retires the androids. In order to expand the definition of human to androids, Hayles and Dick both believe that a new mixture of man and machine must occur to fulfill this expanded category to androids. A mixture of machine and man are already amongst us (as shown in one group's presentation of a man with a robot eyeball) and many already have robotic arms/legs etc.
Bladerunner is a movie based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric sheep. The film did not fare well in box offices, but has since become a classic. Some may say the film needed time to catch on but it is used in classrooms all around the United States to teach about posthumanism.
Shelley Jackson was born in the Phillippines in 1963. Jackson attended Stanford undergraduate and Brown for her M.F.A. in creative writing. While at Brown Jackson was inspired to create her first hypertext fiction titled, Patchwork Girl. This work at the time was the best selling CD for electronic litterature and is considered a cornerstone in starting the electronic litterature movement. Jackson is currently teaching in The New School in New York City.
Similar to These Waves of Girls, "My Body" is a Hypertext Fiction that explores a young girl's memories of childhood and growing up. Many of the memories involve stories relating to growing up, sexuality, and body development. This hypertext fiction maps out different parts of a woman's body for readers to click and to discover the author's inner thoughts.
To navigate for yourself click HERE