Abstract for my keynote at the Malta Connections conference:
Speculative posthumanism (SP) conceives posthumans as agents made “inhuman” by a technological disconnection or “withdrawal” from human social systems. Becoming posthuman is not a matter of losing an essential property of humanity, but of moving from one environment into another (Roden 2014; 2012). However, SP exhibits a tension between its ontology and its epistemology. DT understand becoming nonhuman in terms of agential independence. An artefact like a robot is a “wide human” so long as it depends on its human-related functions to exist. It becomes posthuman if it comes to work outside them and enters other functional relationships. The DT thus requires us to characterise the posthuman as a technically constituted agent. But what is an agent? SP forecloses a purely conceptual response to this question because it rejects any transcendental account of subjectivity founded in human experience (Anthropologically Unbounded Posthumanism – AUP). AUP renders this question illegitimate because it denies there is a substantive theory of agency that could apply to all agents. Not only does DT not tell us what posthumans are like, it has no criteria for determining when disconnection occurs.
It follows that understanding the posthuman (if possible) must proceed without criteria. The content of unbounded posthumanism is produced by disconnection rather than by the schematic theoretical content of the disconnection thesis. I will argue that this implies an intimate relationship between the understanding and practice in posthumanism. It implies theoretical instability or collapse, but also an opportunity for reappraising the relationship between posthumanism and the arts and for bringing its speculative resources to bear on the complex present of the postcontemporary (Roden 2016).
Roden, David (2012) ‘The Disconnection Thesis’, in Amnon Eden, Johnny Søraker, Jim Moor, and Eric Steinhart (eds.), the Singularity Hypothesis: A Scientific and Technological Assessment (2012), Springer-Verlag: 281-298
_____ (2014) Posthuman Life: Philosophy at the Edge of the Human. New York: Routledge. Publication date: October 2014, 220 pp.
_____ (2016) ‘Letters from the Ocean Terminus’. In The PostContemporary Time Complex, edited by Suhail Malik and Armen Avenessian.http://dismagazine.com/…/letters-from-the-ocean-terminus-d…/