How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Google eBook)

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University of Chicago Press, May 15, 2008 - Philosophy - 364 pages
28 Reviews
In this age of DNA computers and artificial intelligence, information is becoming disembodied even as the "bodies" that once carried it vanish into virtuality. While some marvel at these changes, envisioning consciousness downloaded into a computer or humans "beamed" Star Trek-style, others view them with horror, seeing monsters brooding in the machines. In How We Became Posthuman, N. Katherine Hayles separates hype from fact, investigating the fate of embodiment in an information age.

Hayles relates three interwoven stories: how information lost its body, that is, how it came to be conceptualized as an entity separate from the material forms that carry it; the cultural and technological construction of the cyborg; and the dismantling of the liberal humanist "subject" in cybernetic discourse, along with the emergence of the "posthuman."

Ranging widely across the history of technology, cultural studies, and literary criticism, Hayles shows what had to be erased, forgotten, and elided to conceive of information as a disembodied entity. Thus she moves from the post-World War II Macy Conferences on cybernetics to the 1952 novel Limbo by cybernetics aficionado Bernard Wolfe; from the concept of self-making to Philip K. Dick's literary explorations of hallucination and reality; and from artificial life to postmodern novels exploring the implications of seeing humans as cybernetic systems.

Although becoming posthuman can be nightmarish, Hayles shows how it can also be liberating. From the birth of cybernetics to artificial life, How We Became Posthuman provides an indispensable account of how we arrived in our virtual age, and of where we might go from here.
  

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Review: How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics

User Review  - Tom Bensley - Goodreads

I will probably review this later, I think. Read full review

Review: How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics

User Review  - Jeff - Goodreads

Very well-researched and smart text on the ongoing shift from our Western Liberal Humanist persona of humanity to a more posthuman cyborg (connection between human and intelligent machine). I can't ... Read full review

Contents

Toward Embodied Virtuality
3
Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifiers
27
Contesting for the Body of Information The Macy Conferences on Cybernetics
52
Liberal Subjectivity Imperiled Norbert Wiener and Cybernetics
86
From Hyphen to Splice Cybernetic Syntax in Limbo
115
The Second Wave of Cybernetics From Reflexivity to SelfOrganization
133
Turning Reality Inside Out and Right Side Out Boundary Work in the MidSixties Novels of Philip K Dick
162
The Materiality of Informatics
194
Narratives of Artificial Life
224
The Semiotics of Virtuality Mapping the Posthuman
249
Conclusion What Does It Mean to Be Posthuman?
285
Notes
295
Index
327
Copyright

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Page 3 - Its possessive quality is found in its conception of the individual as essentially the proprietor of his own person or capacities, owing nothing to society for them. The individual was seen neither as a moral whole, nor as part of a larger social whole, but as an owner of himself.

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