The posthuman is often characterized by prosthetics and cyborgism, drawing inspiration from science fiction in forming the image of what the posthuman looks like.
At present time, with scientific advances and developments, it can be difficult to tell whether scientist or the makers of science fiction is leading the way in creating the image of the posthuman. (Herbrechter, 2013, p. 108)
One should differ between transhumanism and posthumanism. Transhumanist, often represents a technoscience outlook, here they euphorically celebrate the benefits of technologically transformation of the human, even the end of man. (Herbrechter, 2013, p. 3)
Posthumanism however needs to be viewed as the entire discourse about the subject and as such both incorporates very dystopic and utopic comprehensions of the posthuman condition and negative and positive discourse.(Herbrechter, 2013, p. 37)
Central is the decentralization of the human and post anthropocentric worldview. Here focus is moved away from the human as the only subject of importance, towards a focus on the interrelatedness of the human and non-human form of agency.(Herbrechter, 2013, p. 41)
While the idea of cyborgism and prosthetics makes the concept of posthumanism and moving beyond the human easy to understand, the implications of posthumanism might be more subtle and ubiquitous than such figurative paintings and metaphors.
New technologies, etc. artificial intelligence and ICT’s, are an ubiquitous part of our lives and are not just providing us the intended advantages of the technologies but also in turn transforming us and the way we live our lives in unexpected and unforeseen ways, creating new forms of subjectivity and dissociating material embodiment. (Herbrechter, 2013, pp.25-26, p.50)
The question could be posed: “Is the 10 year old who communicates with his friend over facebook, twitter, google+, hangouts, snapchat, messenger, whatsapp, minecraft, not much more of a cyborg than the guy with a ear operated into his arm?”
Isn’t this ear arm just an intellectual form of bodybuilding and centralizing the human?
“Is he not much more embracing the decentralization of the human and interrelated with the non-human agencies?”
Stefan Herbrechter, ”Towards a critical posthumanism”, from Posthumanism: A critical analysis, London: Bloomsbury, 2013
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9 Comments on "Who is a Cyborg?"
Hey J.J. that sounds very interesting. No i haven’t read his works, but i think i met somewhat the same argument elsewhere, although i don’t quite remember where, could it be Ihde’s Postphenomology and Technosceince or maybe in Herbrechter. I will definitely look Steigler up.
But following the argument, if you then lay over Herbrechter’s analysis of Nietzsche’s concept of the inhuman as being part of the human, but repressed, the posthuman might just be about discovering our self and the others(tech and entities).
Really interesting reflections, I will definitely look up the article by Jesper Tække. And I think you’re right that we’re now in a reality where we have long ago transgressed the stereotypical images of the cyborg presented to us by science fiction. But on the other hand a broader conception of what a cyborg is brings us closer to the approach that we’ve always been posthuman, doesn’t it? I mean, slightly caricatured, is using my computer and my cellphone any different from how man has always used technology/tools to optimize living conditions?