Hayles Provocation

I know we were asked not to summarize, but I couldn’t help myself! I found this text to be challenging, and the act of summarizing at the start helped me to clarify my provocation, so I’m hoping it will help you as well! If not, skip to the last two paragraphs!

Katherine Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman (1999) reflects on the relationship between information and the body, and what it means to be post/human. Hayles considers Moravec’s argument that someday “soon” (he was writing in 1988) human consciousness could be downloaded into a computer. Moravec suggested, and Hayles considers, that in this future universe, “you are the cyborg, and the cyborg is you.”

To Hayles, the idea of a total separation of mind and body is a nightmare, and this nightmare is what leads her to explore and consider the field of cybernetics and what it means to be post/human. Hayles defines posthuman through the following traits:

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One thought on “Hayles Provocation

  1. Randall Collins writes in Interaction Ritual Chains (2004), “An individual is not simply a body, even though a body is an ingredient that individuals get constructed out of (p. 4).” I thought of this as I read Hayles first two chapters and it is because of this that I am a little confused by Hayles’ ideas on “post-human” evolution. Even as cybernetics and computer programing has moved from homeostasis to reflexivity to virtuality, has the computer ever really transversed the boundary between human and machine? In your example above the iPhone is a machine and you are a human. Even as computers are able to problem solve and write their own binary, they remind there unique entity, just as humans are their own unique entity because of the body that they inhabit. Each is defined by the ever sifting structures and dialectical relationships they share. I suppose that now as I think about this, this boundary exists only because humans exist to define it. It is here in these boundaries that I believe that oppression takes root.

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