Hayles: How We Became Human

Relating Hayles to other things that we have read, It seems that Hayles’ general argument on the nature of the posthuman focuses on the idea that the body is impermanent and the mind (the information of the self) is dominant and important. “The posthuman view privileges informational pattern over material instantiation. (Hayles, 2)” I thought the implications that Hayles explored regarding the nature of information of and the loss of information’s “body” to be very interesting.

Hayles states that information has come to be conceptualized as “an entity separate from the material forms in which it is thought to be embedded. (Hayles, 2)” She then connects this to the view that humans are to be “seen primarily as information-processing entities who are essentially similar to intelligent machines. (Hayles, 7)” This relates to Descartes’s ideas of cartesian dualism. If humanity is more directly connected to the bodiless idea of information, there is a clear distinction between the mind and body. As technology advances and the possibilities expand, Descartes’s ideas have taken on a new and exceedingly literal interpretation regarding the dualism of mind and body.

It is unlikely that human technological advancement will slow or cease anytime soon. Given the new advances in the understanding of information and Descartes’s ideas on dualism, it seems that there is a collective desire to move beyond humanity into the post human. As humans increase their technological knowledge, we then continue further to determine how to use this technology to modify ourselves. It seems inevitable that we will one day find a way to separate mind from body. If such an advancement is to happen, it will (as with all technological advancements) happen before we know whether we should do it.

Harraway and Davies

One of the most interesting things I found in these two pieces was the idea that the quality of humanity could reside in something outside of our human bodies. Typically, when thinking of what is human there are two things that come to mind: our human bodies and our human minds. I see in Harraway and Davies the idea that our bodies may not be as tied to our humanity as we think. Davies’ piece in particular highlights artists and thinkers that have augmented their bodies whether for art or for increased sensory perception.

I also thought the idea of transhumanism was very interesting. Reading Davies’ article about the potential for the augmentation of the human body by a cybernetic means made me think immediately of this YouTube video I saw a few days ago. The idea of improving ourselves through a technological means is already being explored, and I find this very eye opening.