[Humanist] 23.462 nanotechnology

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Nov 26 07:56:13 CET 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 462.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 10:35:11 -0200
        From: renata lemos <renata.lemoz at gmail.com>
        Subject: techno-de(con)struction of humanism


"The birth of nanotechnology as a scientific discipline provokes the
hyperreal collapse of humanistic discourse, puncturing the fragile
membrane between real and simulation, science and science fiction, organism
and machine, and heralding metamorphic futures and cyborganic
discontinuities. In both its speculative-theoretical and applied-engineering
modes, nanotechnology unbuilds those constructions of human thought, as well
as those forms of human embodiment, based on the security of presence and
stability—terrorizing presentist humanism from the vantage point of an
already inevitable future. As Jacques Derrida has repeatedly suggested,
the deconstruction of metaphysical structures allows us to “pass beyond man
and humanism, the name of man being the name of that being who, throughout
the history of metaphysics or of ontotheology—in other words, throughout his
entire history—has dreamed of full presence, the reassuring foundation, the
origin and the end of play. Critiquing humanism from within while
simultaneously stepping radically outside the domain defined by humanism
opens a subject position other than that implanted between essence
and eschatology—which is the position of the human, for the “name of man has
always been inscribed in metaphysics between these two ends. With a similar
agenda, Michel Foucault has argued for the historic boundaries of humanism,
depicting an epistemic closure marking the end of man as an entity: “As the
archaeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date.
And one perhaps nearing its end.” The intellectual breakdown of humanism is
advanced through the collision between human flesh and
postmodern technologies, where the relational interface mediates
the emergence of new posthuman haptic spaces—machinic, virtual,
material, and meaty—as Paul Virilio, Brian Massumi, N. Katherine Hayles, and
the contributors to this volume have suggested. I argue that nanotechnology
participates in the *techno-de(con)struction of humanism*, forcing us to
think otherwise through its ambiguous hyperreal status and its narratives of
corporeal reconfiguration from beyond the temporal horizon, fabricating new
fields of embodiment and facilitating our becoming posthuman by envisioning
a future
where the world and the body have been made into the stuff of
science fiction dreams"

in: Colin Milburn. Nanotechnology in the Age of Posthuman Engineering:
Science Fiction as Science. Configurations, 2002, 10:261–295. The Johns
Hopkins University Press.

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