Praxis Seminar: Research Colloquium in Practical Philosophy 2022/23, Session 1

Susanna Lindberg

Leiden University

From Technological Humanity to Bio-technical Existence

4 October 2022, 17h00 (Lisbon Summer Time — GMT+1)

Sala Mattos Romão (Room C201.J – Department of Philosophy) | School of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon

 

Abstract

In this conference, I will present the end results of a forthcoming book titled From technological humanity to bio-technical existence (SUNY 2023). The concrete motivation of this book is the rapid extension of the field of what I call anthropotechnics. This word designates in a general manner the technologies that are used, not simply on the nonhuman nature around us, but on the human being itself. We know how modern, technology, fulfilling the Cartesian project of becoming “masters and possessors of nature”, has ended in the mega-phenomenon called the anthropocene. Anthropotechnics returns this project on the human being itself and thinks of the human being as the master and possessor of its own nature. This is how all problems that have been generated by the Cartesian project concerning nonhuman nature not only find their echo in the case of the human being, but are also amplified, because the human being is not only the object of anthropotechnical elaboration but also its subject. As the object of anthropotechnics the human being can cultivate itself but also ends by exploiting and polluting itself; as the subject of anthropotechnics it is the responsible of all these effects, so that we might no need  an ecology of the “human nature” under the pressure of anthropotechnics. In this conference I do not answer to such conrete ethico-political questions, however, but I investigate the philosophical presuppositions of the phenomenon of anthropotechnics. How has the human being come to treat itself as an object of technical production? Since when it thinks of itself essentially as a technician? I condensate the philosophical presuppositions on the expression technological humanity, and I show how it has evolved notably in the works of Plessner, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida, Stiegler, Agamben and Hayles. They have discovered the importance of technics to the becoming of the human, but they have also shown how technics hollows out humanity – or how the concept of ‘technics’ allows showing the hollowness of the term ‘humanity.’ Technological humanity is therefore not an ideal figure that this philosophical discussion aims to erect, but is on the contrary an ambient and distorted image of the human that philosophy reveals in order to undo, dismantle, and deconstruct it. In this conference, I underline the deconstruction of the idea of technological humanity and present the notion of bio-technical existence that – as I claim – emerges as its condition. With the notion of “bio-technics” I want to show how not only how life is conceived of in technical terms today and how contemporary technics tends to imitate life. I also want to show on a fundamental ontological level how technics belongs to life, being its own way of reaching itself.