Information, Bodies, and Heidegger: Tracing Visions of the Posthuman

Sophia 50 (1):101-112 (2011)
Discussion of the posthuman has emerged in a wide set of fields through a diverse set of thinkers including Donna Haraway, Ray Kurzweil, Nick Bostrom, N. Katherine Hayles, and Francis Fukuyama, just to name a few. Despite his extensive critique of technology, commentators have not explored the fruitfulness of Heidegger's work for deciphering the various strands of posthumanism recently formulated in response to contemporary technological developments. Here, I employ Heidegger's critique of technology to trace opposing visions of the posthuman, visions that are both tied intimately to new information technologies. For those seeking to extend humanist ideals, information technologies are employed to extend the vision of an ultra-humanist view of a ‘scientific posthuman’ that dangerously understands the body to be a forfeitable nuisance, rather than an inherent aspect of being human. Along Heideggerian lines, thinkers such as N. Katherine Hayles and Thomas Carlson have developed an alternative trajectory related to Dasein's Being-in-the-world. This trajectory posits the self as constituted by a lack or abyss, enabling the formulation of a ‘mystical posthuman,’ celebrating, rather than forfeiting, humanity's embodied existence
Keywords Posthuman  Transhumanism  Heidegger  Nick Bostrom  Thomas Carlson  N. Katherine Hayles  Information technologies
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DOI 10.1007/s11841-010-0214-4
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