Ideas and Interpretations – Week 3
On being human
Both the Steve Fuller’s presentation and Neil Badmington’s document on posthumanism made question where do I ‘stand’ on this. I’m way more inclined to a traditional humanist approach rather than the post- one. Being human – the way I see it – is to be ‘blessed’ with some traits such as the capacity to abstraction, to have faith, to err, to imagine endlessly, to love. I feel that when people follow a posthumanism path it is somewhat of a spiral down to self-destruct as some sort of cognitive dissonance between what they believe and what something (conscience, soul, guts, back of the mind) inside is telling them. Such dissonance comes with consequences and it’s when they feel, when they need to feel human the most that it strikes harder.
Enhancing the human body can be seen as developments and advances in medicine that will lead to incredible findings, cures and ability to revert back even the most degenerative diseases. If we could heal those who are at upmost terrible state, would they not revert back to humans?
The other developments could be those of transhumanist characteristics: genetic manipulation and modification, game-changing drugs, body hacks and implants – stuff from the realm of science fiction and superheroes stories. A recent TV show dealt with this issue: the last season  of “Fringe” had future humans portrayed in a very ‘reptile’ way, but the twist was that even like that the ‘humanity’ they had lost managed to crawl back out via feelings. Humanity (as a trait to Homo sapiens sapiens) prevails – like Yin and Yang, nothing is ever truly dark or truly light; we act like animals or like machines but still human in the end.
In regards to education in particular or society’s order in general, the posthumanism topics are very important and divisive matters. As the digital natives grow they’ll be adapting society to fit them better but this is not certain nor it is and ‘imperative’. Fuller mentions ‘projects to maintain humanity’. MOOCs certainly are humanizing and enlightening and fall into that category, so to speak. This and other educational initiatives are shaping the education and indubitably shaping people which in turn will shape politics and other points of society. This vision comes from the ‘old humanistic projects’ and relate to present-day not-enhanced humans. But should they become a reality, having advantages over others – through genetics, nanotech, drugs or other means – it can pose a risk to education’s equality. Later they can become the ‘selected few’, the ‘elites’ that rule above humans in similar fashion of the characters from H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine”.
But should this ever become a [dystopian] reality, there are always those who wish to persevere and preserve human qualities. That is to say that technology should be a plus, not the only way and not let it take over education or something else for that matter; tech can help but it never replaces. Likewise, nothing really replaces human contact and touch for we are social animals. Plus, it’s not strange to find more and more people going back – or after – religion and spirituality, disconnecting and going back to basics – people are seeking to experience as people [and animals] again. In the Arts and in the imagination, people are bringing humanity back to where it belongs: with people, human beings (as a whole).