End of the Human: Extinction or Transcendence? Posthumanism, Transhumanism, and Superhumanism in the 21st Century
A number of important thinkers have postulated the end of the human in our times. Apart from visions of an apocalypse resulting in an extinction of the human species, such ideas have included notions of genetic and/or technological mutations leading to new species and the development of psi powers leading to the advent of the superhuman. More fundamentally, some thinkers have seen our age as one in which the modern image of the human being is itself in transition, at a bifurcation point where a plurality of possibilities jostle for hegemonic determination.
Have we already become posthuman, an informationally determined cybernetic system, as N. Katherine Hayles suggests? Are we moving towards a singularity where man and machine fuse into Inteligence as sugested by Ray Kurzweil? Are we being invited to the unprecedented banquet of the Nietzschean overman? Is it the noosphere of Teilhard de Chardin that awaits us? Are we living laboratories for the Aurobindian superman? Is it the hour of the Second Coming? Or is it that of the messianic Other who is ever deferred, Derrida’s l’avenir which is always the unpredictable horizon which calls us?
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Makarand R. Paranjape, Ph.D. is a Professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s Centre for English at the School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies. He is a well-known critic, poet, novelist, short-story writer, literary columnist, and reviewer. He has edited or authored about thirty-five books and published more than 100 academic papers both in India and abroad, in addition to poems, short stories, and more than 250 periodical essays, reviews, and other publications. He is presently visiting the U.S. as Principal Investigator in an international project called “Indian Perspectives on Science and Spirituality.”
Jon Louis Dorbolo is Associate Director of the Technology Across the Curriculum program (TAC) and , a long-time philosophy instructor at Oregon State University. He received his doctorate in philosophy at University of Oregon in 1987, originated a web-based philosophy course – InterQuest – in 1994, was named 1996 MultiMedia Educator of the year by the Oregon Multi-Media Alliance, received the 1998 Oregon State University Extended Education Faculty Achievement Award, is past President of the International Association of Computing and Philosophy, past Editor of the American Philosophical Association Philosophy and Computers Newsletter, and organizer of several conferences including Computing and Philosophy and Oregon Immersive Education. Jon is currently co-developing immersive environments - Beaver Island in Second Life – and augmented reality habitats.
Debashish Banerji, Ph.D. is the Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Indian Studies at the University of Philosophical Research, Los Angeles. He is an adjunct faculty member in Art History at the Pasadena City College, teaching courses on the history of Asian Art. He is a Research Fellow in the Department of Asian and Comparative Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. From 1991 to 2006, Banerji served as President of the East West Cultural Center, Los Angeles. Banerji has curated a number of exhibitions in Indian and Japanese art and is the author of two books, “The Alternate Nation of Abanindranath Tagore” (Sage, 2010) and “Seven Quartets of Becoming: A Transformative Yoga Psychology Based on the Diaries of Sri Aurobindo” (DKPW and Nalanda International, 2012).
Richard Carlson is a writer/musician and the president of Pacific Weather Inc, a firm which monitors meteorological information at airports throughout the United States. His interests include all matters related to the relationship between technology and culture in our times and to Jazz, Poetry, Integral Yoga, Critical Theory, and Global Climate Change. He holds a Master of Arts degree from Antioch University, is one of the founders of the blog posthumandestinies and is among the contributors to the prestigious e-journal www.ctheory.net