Microbial Life

The science and philosophy writer Dorion Sagan, son of Lynn Margulis,[1] began his 2011 lecture in the Anthropological Society’s series The Human is More than Human[2] by quoting from Claire Folsome’s entry for ‘Microbes’ in the 1985 book The Biosphere Catalogue. Folsome describes a thought experiment in which an alien drops down through the ceiling and […]

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Hamlet, Shakespeare and Posthumanism

‘… they imitated humanity so abhominably.’ (III.2.34)[1]   The affinity between Shakespeare’s Hamlet and some of the existential questions raised by contemporary posthumanism, despite the four centuries that lie between them, is striking. From the beginning of the play, the question of identity, and of the identity of the human more specifically, is the main […]

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Affect: Psychopower and Eventology

‘Psychopower’ and ‘Eventology’ are two reworked extracts from the succinct genealogy of affect that Bernd Bösel provides in ‘Affect Disposition(ing)’. The article explains how affect is conceptualised by early Western (i.e. Greek) thought as the ‘by-product of being possessed by a god, a demon or another nonhuman’. This ‘demonological’ paradigm of affect involves certain practices of dealing with nonhuman […]

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Genealogy

Genealogies are about ancestors, lineages, progeny and the knowledge they produce. They are historical in the sense that they trace past developments to investigate how ‘things’ have become the way they ‘are’ (or, at least, were at a certain time). In the humanities and social sciences the concept of genealogy is mainly linked to both […]

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Musical Atmospheres

For critical posthumanism, musical atmospheres are a promising field of study. ‘Immersed in sound’, as Frances Dyson argues with reference to the new media of virtual reality, the Internet, and their auditive precursor technologies, ‘the subject loses its self, and, in many ways, loses its sense’ in indeterminate situations that undermine the classical subject-object split […]

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Romantic Self and Posthumanism

The Romantic period develops a particular construction of the self, a self with a privileged interiority. Posthumanist criticism flattens this interiority, pushing our critical attention away from the artist’s expression of internal feelings to material relations between bodies in landscapes.  Such a posthumanist approach follows several threads of posthumanism. It draws from what Object Oriented […]

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Xenotransplantation, Form-of-Life and Literary Fiction

Identity questions over the borders of the human are complicated in novels such as Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005), Ninni Holmquist’s The Unit (2006) and Neal Shusterman’s Unwind series (2007–2014), which explore the role of new biology, and new life forms, in future societies.[1] In these texts, the survival of the human depends […]

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Bio art and the end of philosophy (Feuerstein & Hegel)

In his Aesthetics, Hegel declared the end of art. Art is ‘on the side of its highest destiny, a thing of the past’.[1] For Hegel, art satisfied the same spiritual needs as philosophy: to disclose meaning and truth. Art revealed meaning and truth within the world of appearances by creating sensuous existents, rather than elevating thought […]

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