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Post- and Transhumanism

An Introduction

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Edited By Robert Ranisch and Stefan Lorenz Sorgner

Scientific advances in genetics, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence signal the end of our traditional concept of the human being. The most vigorous movements dealing with this ongoing crisis of humanism are posthumanism and transhumanism. While posthumanism reconsiders what it means to be human, transhumanism actively promotes human enhancement. Both approaches address the posthuman condition in the technological age. In 20 articles, written by leading scholars of the field, this volume provides the first comprehensive introduction to debates beyond humanism.
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Science Fiction Literature: Domna Pastourmatzi

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Domna Pastourmatzi

When in 1985 in her Cyborg Manifesto Donna Haraway asserted that “the boundary between science fiction and social reality is an optical illusion” (Haraway 1991, 149), she was diagnosing a new phenomenon in American culture, namely the conflation of the scientific and the science-fictional modes of thinking that had also gotten hold of the Reagan administration and the U.S. military establishment. At the same time she noted the incursion of science fictional creatures (like the cyborg) in the real world. Despite her insistence that her blasphemy was laden with irony and that it was meant to be “a rhetorical strategy and a political method” (ibid.), many took her final words “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess” (ibid., 181) as an endorsement of posthumanity as lived experience. When N. Katherine Hayles in 1999 tried to give an account of how Americans became posthumans (both culturally and scientifically) she linked the theories of American scientists (Norbert Wiener and Hans Moravec) to the same assumptions informing the fictional scenarios of Star Trek. In the post-World War II years, American science and science fiction were regular bed-fellows influencing each other. Notable scientists (Edward Teller, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Hawkings, Marvin Minsky and others) have been “heavy-duty SF fans” and “some even wrote it” (Benford 2000, xi). Indeed, many American “scientists make their own culture through SF” and American science in general “feels the genre at its back, breathing on its neck in the race into the future” (ibid...

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