Transhumanist Imagination

transhumanist imagination

Elaine Graham

TITLE

"Manifestations of the post-secular in the post-human imagination"

DEPARTMENT

University of Chester

EMAIL

BIO

Abstract: Today, advanced technologies are a part of everyday life and have transformed many aspects of our experience. Whether such technologies create new 'immersive' virtual realms of in­formation and communication or become 'incorporated' into our physical bodies by means of implants, prostheses or other medical and genetic interventions, they serve to disrupt the 'onto­logical hygiene' that sets up such binary categories as material /virtual, natural /artificial, biological/technological . The chief of these, of course, is that between humanity and its non-human 'others', whether they be animals or machines.  The concept of the 'posthuman' re­flects the extent to which the very idea of what it means to be human has been decentred, and may now be more a matter of boundaries than essences (Graham, 2002). But have the various technoscientific and cultural developments with which we associate the emergence of posthuman  and posthumanist discourse also effected the blurring of other boundaries? Increasingly, it would seem that with the posthuman must come talk of the 'post-secular': a  similar erosion, or at least questioning, of some of the classic binaries of modernity: science and religion, secular and sacred, immanence and transcendence (Braidotti, 2013).  In this short presentation, I will consider some of the manifestations of the post-secular emer­g­ing within discourses of posthumanism. It must be said that the post-secular con­dition is any­thing but a reversal of secularization or a return to Christendom, but signals instead the para­doxical and unprecedented co-existence of the religious and the secular. So whilst some alli­ances of the human and the technological, such as transhumanism, are premised on an em­brace of radical Enlighten­ment humanism, there are also signs of the re-enchantment of the human, the non-human and the more-than-human.  What difference might the (re)intro­duction of a transcendental or spiritual dimension make to our understandings of the post­human and its future?

References:

Braidotti, Rosi (2013). The Posthuman (Cambridge: Polity Press).

Graham, Elaine L. (2002). Representations of the Post/Human: Monsters, Aliens and Others in Popular Culture (Manchester: Manchester University Press and New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press).

Graham, Elaine L. (2004). Bioethics after Posthumanism: Natural Law, Communicative Ethics and the Problem of Self-Design, Ecotheology 9.2. 

Graham, Elaine L. (2007). Embodying technology, becoming our tools: discussing the post/human, in Words that Heal ed. J. Baxter (London: SPCK).