Cultural and Social Dimensions of Trans- and Posthumanism

10 – 14 September 2012   print this page

Course directors:

Darko Polšek, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Curtis Carbonell, New York Inst. of Technology, United States
Donal O'Mathuna, Dublin City University, Ireland
Thomas Philbeck, Independent Researcher, United States
Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, Erlangen University, Germany, Germany

Course description:

The specific focus of the event “Enhancement, Emerging Technologies, and Social Challenges” are the social challenges which we have to face due to the rapid development of emerging technologies. In order to guarantee a systematic treatment of the topic we will particularly focus on th following five topics:

The initial topic of our course will be

1. Enhancement as social challenge: As part of this topic, we will be concerned with the social challenges related to the following four types of enhancement:

1.1 Moral enhancement;

1.2 Genetic enhancement;

1.3 Neuroenhancement;

1.4 Cyborg enhancement.

The next central topic is the relationship between the theory of evolution, enhancement technologies and the related social challenges:

2. Enhancing Evolution. As part of this topic both historical as well as systematic

treatments are being dealt with. Hence, we will be concerned both with the historical debate between Aldous and Julian Huxley which lead to the publication of the influential books “Brave New World” and “New Bottles for New Wine”. The relationship between Nietzsche, Transhumanism and the contemporary eugenics debates will also be covered as part of this course. However, contemporary systematic topics like the social challenges related to the Movie “Gattaca” or the John Harris monograph “Enhancing Evolution” will not be neglected, either.

A further topic of the course will be the representation of social challenges within contemporary arts:

3. Bioarts, Body Art and Performance Art. Hereby, the following questions will not be left untackled:

3.1 Which social challenges are related to Kac’s works of art?;

3.2 Does Orlan’s Carnal Art raise significant questions

concerning the challenges of plastic surgery?;

3.3 Nyman’s opera “Facing Goya” addresses central questions

concerning eugenics. Are his worries plausible?;

3.4 Jaime del Val’s performance addresses the need to move beyond a duality of sexes towards a plurality of sexes. Is he right?

Concerning social challenges, especially with respect to ethical concerns, the concept “human dignity” is of central relevance. Hence:

4. Human Dignity. Several questions need to be considered in this context:

4.1 Is it possible to accept the theory of evolution and to also affirm the special status of human beings as categorically

separate from other natural beings? ;

4.2 Which characteristics are necessary for distinguishing the dignityof humans, metahumans, transhumans and posthumans?;

4.3 Do posthumanists, and transhumanists put forward plausible challenges concerning human dignity?;

4.4 Is the concept of the embodied mind compatible to that of human dignity?;

4.5. Will there be the need to introduce the concept of post-persons, whereby post-persons have a higher moral status as persons?

The economic consequences related to emerging technologies have often been neglected in philosophical discourses:

5. Enhancement and Health Insurance Companies. In this context the following questions will be addressed:

5.1 Are vaccination a type of enhancement?;

5.2 What is a disease and what ought to be referred to as merely a special trait?;

5.3 Is it possible to introduce regulations concerning health insurances such that the

issue of global justice is being considered?;

5.4 Does a liberal state necessarily lead to structures which neglect social justice?

Programme offer 3 ECTS points for participants from University of Zagreb (Department of Sociology, Doctoral Course)

Other Universities and Departments potentialy as well. To be announced during at the course, depending on students-participants

Course lecturers:

Mateja Donković, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium
Robert Ranisch, University of Tübingen, Germany
Vjera Duić, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Darko Polšek, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Johann Roduit, University of Zürich, Switzerland
Jelena Guga, University of Arts, Belgrade, Serbia
Kevin La Grandeur, New York Inst. of Technology, United States
Ahu Tuncel, New School University, New York, United States
Jaime Del Val, REVERSO Institute, Spain
David Roden, The Open University, UK, United Kingdom
Hallvard Haug, Birkbek, University of London, United Kingdom
Felix Krause, University of Münster, Germany
Pieter Lemmens, Wageningen University, Netherlands
Colin Hickey, Georgetown University, United States
Neva Lukić, Netherlands
Benjamin Curtis, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom
David Louwrier, University of Leiden, Netherlands
Pieter Bonte, Ghent University, Belgium
Donal O'Mathuna, Dublin City University, Ireland
Natasha Vita-More, University of Arizona, United States
Monika Bakke, University of Poznań, Poland
Ivan Klinec, Institute of Art History, Slovakian Academy of Sciences (Bratislava), Slovakia
Roberto Marchesini, Scuola di Interazione Uomo-Animale (Siua), Italy
Güncel Önkal, Maltepe University, Turkey
Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, Erlangen University, Germany, Germany