Cyberculture, Cyborgs and Science Fiction: Consciousness and the Posthuman

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Rodopi, 2006 - Art - 192 pages
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Addressing a key issue related to human nature, this book argues that the first-person experience of pure consciousness may soon be under threat from posthuman biotechnology. In exploiting the mind's capacity for instrumental behavior, posthumanists seek to extend human experience by physically projecting the mind outward through the continuity of thought and the material world, as through telepresence and other forms of prosthetic enhancements. Posthumanism envisions a biology/machine symbiosis that will promote this extension, arguably at the expense of the natural tendency of the mind to move toward pure consciousness. As each chapter of this book contends, by forcibly overextending and thus jeopardizing the neurophysiology of consciousness, the posthuman condition could in the long term undermine human nature, defined as the effortless capacity for transcending the mind's conceptual content. Presented here for the first time, the essential argument of this book is more than a warning; it gives a direction: far better to practice patience and develop pure consciousness and evolve into a higher human being than to fall prey to the Faustian temptations of biotechnological power. As argued throughout the book, each person must choose for him or herself between the technological extension of physical experience through mind, body and world on the one hand, and the natural powers of human consciousness on the other as a means to realize their ultimate vision.

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I couldn't even finish the first chapter. This is tosh.
Poorly argued: the author is weak at defining his concepts. Most notably quotes a physicist on volition/free will!? What exactly does a
physicist have to do with that? Why not turn to cognitive science, and actually discuss Minsky (whose work he already quoted) or Papert who have actually addressed the question of volition with regards to the cognizing subject, consciousness and subjectivity??
The author has also not read very widely in the genre which he purports to be analysing and misses obvious parallels. In discussing Frankenstein's monster, arguing that his 'composite' structure would deny him the appellation of human, the author never thinks to parallel with Asimov's The Positronic Man who is just such a composite and DOES achieve humanity.
If interested in consciousness and the posthuman, with a side serving of Eastern Philosophy as a contrast to the heavily westernized philosophy generally on offer, I recommend The Embodied Mind, by Francisco J Varela, Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch. Cogently argued, thorough, and clear.
Varela et al actually do what Haney only wishes he could do.


Consciousness and the Posthuman
The Latent Powers of Consciousness vs Bionic Humans
Derridas Indian Literary Subtext
Consciousness and the Posthuman in Short Fiction
Frankenstein The Monsters Constructedness and the Narrativity of Consciousness
William Gibsons Neuromancer Technological Ambiguity
Neal Stephensons Snow Crash Humans are not Computers
Haruki Murakamis HardBoiled Wonderland and the End of the World Unicorns Elephants and Immortality
Cyborg Revelations Marge Piercys He She and It
Conclusion The Survival of Human Nature
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About the author (2006)

William S. Haney II, a University of California, Davis, Ph.D., has taught literary and cultural studies at universities in the United States and abroad, including the University of Maryland; Inha University, South Korea; the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany; and Eastern Mediterranean University, North Cyprus. He is currently professor of English at the American University of Sharjah, UAE. His books (most recently Culture and Consciousness, Bucknell U P, 2002) and edited collections focus on contemporary British and American literature and culture, often from a consciousness studies perspective. He is currently working on Sacred Theater, co-authored (Intellect 2006), and has just completed Postmodern Theater and the Void of Conceptions (Cambridge Scholars Press 2006).

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