Loss of Humanity

Marcello Sachs '10, English 65, The Cyborg Self, Brown University (Fall 2006)

Technology is developing a more ubiquitous presence — not just in our environment, but also inside of us. Technology today is inextricably tied to work and recreation, and eventually it will be impossible to sift out one's own body from the technology that has invaded it. Haraway discusses possible reactions to the creeping presence of technology in her "Cyborg Manifesto":

From One-Dimensional Man (Marcuse, 1964) to The Death of Nature(Merchant, 1980), the analytic resources developed by progressives have insisted on the necessary domination of technics and recalled us to an imagined organic body to integrate our resistance. Another of my premises is that the need for unity of people trying to resist world-wide intensification of domination has never been more acute. But a slightly perverse shift of perspective might better enable us to contest for meanings, as well as for other forms of power and pleasure in technologically mediated societies.

1. Why is humanity afraid of cyborgization? Are we afraid that becoming immortal through technology will serve to end our natural life?

2. Is humanity threatened by the destabilization of societal and biological dualisms? Should only the ‘Self' and not the ‘Other' be fearful of this destabilization because the dominance of the former over the later will dissolve?

3. I recently butted in on a conversation between two friends about the future of humanity. Upon hearing my argument for that we would become one with technology, one of the friends dismissed the idea as ridiculous, stating that "we would realize we were losing our humanity and would thus not allow the process to occur." How cognizant is the general public of humanity's increasing cyborgization? Would the general public be able to stop the process, or would it be too late at this point?

4. Is becoming one with technology really losing our humanity? One of the distinguishing traits of humanity is society, which is a form of intangible technology integrated into our biological minds. Considering this definition of humanity, would complete cyborgization simply be a crystallization of the essence of humanity?

Course Website cyborg Body & Self Literature

Last modified 4 December 2006