History and philosophy of science and technology posthumanism
University of London
Campbell, Norah, Michael Saren and Aidan O'Driscoll, The Primitive, Technology and Horror: A Posthuman Biology, ephemera: theory and politics in organization, 10, 1, 2010, 152-176
ephemera: theory and politics in organization; 10; 1;
Recent works have explored the concept of posthumanism as a radical decentring of the human,
humanism and the humanities in the wake of the complexificaiton of technology and systems, and new
insight into nonhuman life (Pettman, 2011; Wolfe, 2009). In this article, we argue that posthumanism is
not just an epistemology (Wolfe, 2009), but an aesthetic that blends three elements – the primitive,
technology and horror. The interrelation of these three elements produces an aesthetic sensibility, that
says three things about non-humanist conceptions of life. First, we draw attention to metamorphosis as an
engine that encourages the viewer to recognise life not as being, but as perpetual becoming. However, as
an antidote to the liberatory promises of ‘flow’, we specifically argue for a distinction between morphing
and mutating, showing how each articulates opposing fantasies of posthumanism. Second, the concept of
primal technology is introduced, which injects the humanist understanding of technology with an
alternative, subterranean and posthuman supplement. Third, proto-atavism introduces the concept that
multiple paradigms of life exist on the peripheries of humanist life. Ancient and future evolutionary traits
exist in the present – both in the aesthetic imagination and in everyday life. Ultimately, we work towards
a more wide-ranging idea – a posthuman biology – an ethical imperative which reminds us that, in a
technological age, life is no longer containable in ‘simple’ life.
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