[Humanist] 23.290 becoming different

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Sep 12 10:09:26 CEST 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 23, No. 290.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2009 09:01:15 -0400
        From: James Rovira <jamesrovira at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 23.288 how we keep becoming different?
        In-Reply-To: <20090911061426.B0ECE3A9FB at woodward.joyent.us>

Well, my book _Blake and Kierkegaard: Creation and Anxiety_
forthcoming from Continuum in late Spring 2010, addresses these
questions somewhat.  These ideas are much older than Darwin and Freud,
of course, both having adapted longstanding traditions and restated
them for their time.

The two major currents here are panentheism, as we might find in
hermetic thought -- the universe as a vast, growing, evolving organism
of which human beings are a part -- and the classical model of human
personality in which a human being is a synthesis of body, soul, and
spirit.  Being a synthesis, we are subject to constant reconfiguration
of the constituent parts of the self, each reconfiguration producing a
different kind of self.  Belief in the soul did not necessarily mean
belief in a fixed self or nature, really, until after the Reformation.

So any author writing within either of these traditions will emphasize
change, transformation, etc.  I argue that Blake and Kierkegaard
especially did so because they lived at the cusp of a transition from
monarchy to democracy, felt they were witnessing the dominance of
artifice over nature, and lived in the middle of a battle between two
rival scientific phenomenologies (mechanical and organic, the former
proceeding from Newtonian science and the latter a new permutation of
hermeticism).  Both scientific phenomenologies were religious in
nature in their respective times and places.  Darwin's and Freud's
innovation was to combine mechanical and organic models within
strictly materialist and empirical presuppositions.

Jim R

. What I'm asking about, in order to throw light on
> computing's effects on us, are those historical moments of
> reconstruction, considered historically, i.e. from the perspective of
> those who found themselves in need of a new suit of psycho-cultural
> clothing. Katherine Hayles' How We Became Posthuman is relevant to this
> sort of questioning, but I am specifically after historical analyses
> with a focus on such reconstructions (if that's a fair metaphor) prior
> to the one we're currently in the midst of.
> Thanks for any suggestions.
> Yours,
> WM

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