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Philosophy - Epistemology & Philosophy of Science | Human Nature in an Age of Biotechnology - The Case for Mediated Posthumanism

Human Nature in an Age of Biotechnology

The Case for Mediated Posthumanism

Sharon, Tamar

2014, X, 241 p. 2 illus.

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  • Presents a comparison of models via an exploration of key issues, from human enhancement, to eugenics, and new configurations of biopower
  • Offers a new perspective on human-technology relations that evades the dichotomy of “protecting” ourselves from technology vs. embracing technology as progress
  • Includes a special chapter on molecular biomedicine and evolutionary biology links STS and philosophy of technology to current trends in biology

New biotechnologies have propelled the question of what it means to be human – or posthuman – to the forefront of societal and scientific consideration. This volume provides an accessible, critical overview of the main approaches in the debate on posthumanism, and argues that they do not adequately address the question of what it means to be human in an age of biotechnology. Not because they belong to rival political camps, but because they are grounded in a humanist ontology that presupposes a radical separation between human subjects and technological objects.

The volume offers a comprehensive mapping of posthumanist discourse divided into four broad approaches—two humanist-based approaches: dystopic and liberal posthumanism, and two non-humanist approaches: radical and methodological posthumanism. The author compares and contrasts these models via an exploration of key issues, from human enhancement, to eugenics, to new configurations of biopower, questioning what role technology plays in defining the boundaries of the human, the subject and nature for each. 

Building on the contributions and limitations of radical and methodological posthumanism, the author develops a novel perspective, mediated posthumanism, that brings together insights in the philosophy of technology, the sociology of biomedicine, and Michel Foucault’s work on ethical subject constitution. In this framework, technology is neither a neutral tool nor a force that alienates humanity from itself, but something that is always already part of the experience of being human, and subjectivity is viewed as an emergent property that is constantly being shaped and transformed by its engagements with biotechnologies. Mediated posthumanism becomes a tool for identifying novel ethical modes of human experience that are richer and more multifaceted than current posthumanist perspectives allow for.

The book will be essential reading for students and scholars working on ethics and technology, philosophy of technology, poststructuralism, technology and the body, and medical ethics.

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Assisted Reproductive Technologies - Biopolitics and Molecularization - Cyborg anthropology - Dystopic posthumanism - Emerging biotechnologies - Geneticization and Genetic responsibility - Human enhancement - Liberal posthumanism - Methodological posthumanism - Molar to molecular bodies - Non-humanist posthumanism - Originary prostheticity - Radical posthumanism - Technological mediation - Technologies of the self

Related subjects » Anthropology & Archaeology - Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Table of contents 

Chapter 1. Introduction.- Chapter 2. A Cartography of the Posthuman.- Chapter 3. The Human Enhancement Debate: For, Against and from Human Nature.- Chapter 4. Towards a Non-Humanist Posthumanism: The Originary Prostheticity of Radical and Methodological Posthumanism.- Chapter 5. From Molar to Molecular Bodies: Posthumanist Frameworks in Contemporary Biology.- Chapter 6. Posthuman Subjectivity: Beyond Modern Metaphysics.- Chapter 7. Technologically Produced Nature: Nature Beyond Schizophrenia and Paranoia.- Chapter 8. New Modes of Ethical Selfhood: Geneticization and Genetically Responsible Subjectivity.- Chapter 9. Conclusion.

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