Remains. Remains is a key concept for investigating the responses that the debate on the post-human and post-humanism has elicited in humanities as well as sciences. The contention that there are human remains in contemporary conceptualizations of post-humanity needs to be clarified not only by demonstrating their existence, but also by identifying the motives for their permanence. Why humanity remains in discourses of post-humanity can be comprehended by exploring the ways in which scientific ideas, practices and predictions, as they are taken up in various media, question and reshape the idea of the human, and historical attempts to taxonomize human differences. As scientific developments in genetics, information technology and cybernetics open up new possibilities of intervention in human lives, the idea of the human has undergone metamorphoses, but also maintained features which must be regarded as inherent in the definition of humanity, and thus permanent. Contemporary utopia, dystopia, science fiction and popular science writing call for investigations which explore how the human and the post-human intersect, or, more problematically, interface. The post-human is a concept which stems from the constant ethical imperative to improve humanity and is thus connected with eugenics, but also implies envisioning an uncanny ‘other,’ whose physiognomy is mutable, because it bears the marks of specific historical and cultural contexts. Representations of illness and health, of decay and death, of birth and life are intricately connected with conceptualizations and re-conceptualizations of the human body and mind; the focus in contemporary fiction is on technologies of the body and life extension and the challenge they pose to notions of memory, identity and diversity. The relations between mind and body, and between mind and brain have been affected by recent research in neuroscience, which increasingly locates mental operations in specific brain areas and brain functions. The field of artificial intelligence poses the question of the reproducibility and representability of human thought, and has begun to transform the rhetoric with which we discuss mental operations. On the other hand, studies on how the emotional sphere affects rationality has also destabilized the prospect of a virtually unlimited advancement of artificial intelligence. Not only have emotions been recognized as constitutive, distinctive marks of human beings since their origins, but they have also been identified as relevant to logical reasoning and the performance of logical operations. Cloning, organ transplantation, genetic decoding, experimentation and modification, technologies of the self such as virtual identity on the internet, questionings about being human and being alive are fundamental features of the scientific imaginary in contemporary fiction. Spares (1996) by Michael Marshall Smith and Never Let Me Go (2005) by Kazuo Ishiguro testify to contemporary modes of investigating the metamorphoses of the human and raise crucial questions about modes of appropriation of science. If exploited to raise wonder or fear, scientific knowledge becomes a form of myth-making, which can be dangerous when it produces mystification and demagogy. If employed to discuss how the human and the post-human interface, scientific notions prove fundamental for envisaging the future, and the evolution, of humanity.
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|Titolo:||More [than] Human. The Debate on Post-Humanity at the Intersection of Scientific Thought, Technological Experimentation and Literary Vision|
|Autori interni:||SPINOZZI, Paola|
|Data di pubblicazione:||2009|
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