Cyberculture, Cyborgs and Science Fiction

Consciousness and the Posthuman

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Addressing a key issue related to human nature, this book argues that the first-person experience of pure consciousness may soon be under threat from posthuman biotechnology. In exploiting the mind’s capacity for instrumental behavior, posthumanists seek to extend human experience by physically projecting the mind outward through the continuity of thought and the material world, as through telepresence and other forms of prosthetic enhancements. Posthumanism envisions a biology/machine symbiosis that will promote this extension, arguably at the expense of the natural tendency of the mind to move toward pure consciousness. As each chapter of this book contends, by forcibly overextending and thus jeopardizing the neurophysiology of consciousness, the posthuman condition could in the long term undermine human nature, defined as the effortless capacity for transcending the mind’s conceptual content. Presented here for the first time, the essential argument of this book is more than a warning; it gives a direction: far better to practice patience and develop pure consciousness and evolve into a higher human being than to fall prey to the Faustian temptations of biotechnological power. As argued throughout the book, each person must choose for him or herself between the technological extension of physical experience through mind, body and world on the one hand, and the natural powers of human consciousness on the other as a means to realize their ultimate vision.

Biographical Note

William S. Haney II, a University of California, Davis, Ph.D., has taught literary and cultural studies at universities in the United States and abroad, including the University of Maryland; Inha University, South Korea; the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany; and Eastern Mediterranean University, North Cyprus. He is currently professor of English at the American University of Sharjah, UAE. His books (most recently Culture and Consciousness, Bucknell U P, 2002) and edited collections focus on contemporary British and American literature and culture, often from a consciousness studies perspective. He is currently working on Sacred Theater, co-authored (Intellect 2006), and has just completed Postmodern Theater and the Void of Conceptions (Cambridge Scholars Press 2006).

Review Quotes

"…an intriguing and inventive[…] an ambitious and highly original exploration that provides keen insight into consciousness, posthumanism, cyborgs, and science fictions." – in: Science Fiction Studies 34 (2007) "In Cyberculture, Cyborgs and Science Fiction. Consciousness and the Posthuman, Haney offers a new analysis of the posthuman condition and offers a clear alternative, teasing out the implications, limitations and dangers of posthuman, Faustian use of technology versus the potential of the development of higher states of human development from the perspective of Advaita Vedanta." – Daniel Meyer-Dinkgräfe, University of Wales Aberystwyth, in: Consciousness, Literature and the Arts 7/2 (August 2006)

Table of contents

Preface Chapter 1: Consciousness and the Posthuman Chapter 2: The Latent Powers of Consciousness vs. Bionic Humans Chapter 3: Derrida’s Indian Literary Subtext Chapter 4: Consciousness and the Posthuman in Short Fiction Chapter 5: Frankenstein: The Monster’s Constructedness and the Narrativity of Consciousness Chapter 6: William Gibson’s Neuromancer: Technological Ambiguity Chapter 7: Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash: Humans are not Computers Chapter 8: Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: Unicorns, Elephants and Immortality Chapter 9: Cyborg Revelations: Marge Piercy’s He, She and It Chapter 10: Conclusion: The Survival of Human Nature Works Cited Index

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