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STIBET | Thinking and Acting 'Beyond Human': An Introduction to Post- and Transhumanist Debates


May 25, 2021 from 02:00 to 06:00 (Europe/Berlin / UTC200)

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This workshop is aimed at mapping certain relevant facets of current post- and transhumanist debates. Although at first sight radically different domains of analysis, both theoretical brands share “a common perception of the human as a non-fixed and mutable condition”, albeit with divergent conceptual histories and perspectives (Ferrando 2014). Thus, while Transhumanism (TH) asserts that human as an onto-epistemic paradigm hasn’t gone far enough, the posthumanists indicate it has actually gone too far (Fuller 2017). In this regard, we will first sketch the most prominent transhumanist positions, suggesting that TH is not one but many. Participants will be introduced to the leading proponents of the movement, with quite disparate ethico-theoretical standpoints (Bostrom, More, Kurzweil, Sorgner, to mention a few). This will be followed by a discussion on some of its most controversial hallmarks, such as cryonics, Singularity, mind uploading, gene editing, biohacking, three-parent fertilization, and similar. The second part, however, is mainly reserved for the various strands of Posthumanism (PH), particularly critical towards “hyperhumanist” conceptual baggage of TH. This reasoning will be displayed in a triple formation: “post-humanism” as a skeptical take on western-humanist ideal of Man as a measure of all things, “post-anthropocentrism” which criticizes human exceptionalism within the hierarchy of species (Braidotti 2013), and “post-dualism” as a philosophical stance that further problematizes binary thinking and acting (Ferrando 2019). Furthermore, participants will be offered a situational approach concerning the algorithmic logic of advanced, cognitive, “capitalist realism” (Fisher 2009), the disastrous landscapes of Anthropocene, and an ever-persisting set of inequalities in the distribution of power and privilege on a planetary scale. This section concludes with a re-examination of certain eminently humanist concepts (e.g. subjectivity and agency). The radically inclusivist posthumanist approaches that emphasize the creative interrelatedness of human and nonhuman entities, such as for instance “Actor-Network-Theory” (Latour 2005), “vital materialism” (Bennett 2010) and “agential realism” (Barad 2003), will be employed for this purpose. Accordingly, the general goal of this workshop is to put both movements in a productive multilogue, in order to more precisely identify, unpack and assess their intellectual intensities, potential applicability, and (un)avoidable threats.


// Aleksandar Talovic