Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and the Posthuman (Part IV)

iv. Machine Organization and Actualization The assumption that ‘raw’ matter such as silicon, metals, and ceramics can be organized in such a manner that they can give rise to a mental state that we can recognize as consciousness, is a fundamental underpinning of the effort to create artificial intelligence. As philosopher of mind Nick Bostrom points out: Substrate-independence is a common assumption in the philosophy of mind. The idea is that mental states can supervene on any of a broad class of physical substrates. Provided a system implements the right sort of computational structures and processes, it can be associated with conscious experiences. It is not an essential property of consciousness that it is implemented on carbon-based biological neural networks...

Read More

Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and the Posthuman (Part III)

iii. Self-Realizing Material As any programmer who studies philosophy immediately notes, current software programming models act out to some degree the ideas of Plato and Thomas Aquinas. In the programming world, the pervasive emphasis on Object-oriented programming has given rise to the somewhat common analogy that “Platonic forms are classes and instances are [software] objects.” Given this fundamental understanding of their work as the ‘instantiation’ of an overarching class or Form, programmers thus work to define hierarchies of symbolic content within their coding structures, such that Forms/Classes ‘inform’ and create dynamic ‘Instances’ or Expressions of the individual Forms and Classes. Furthermore, “Patterns, abstract data types, and the like can...

Read More

Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and the Posthuman (Part II)

ii. A Model for Post-Organic Actualization The central question we will soon contend with is this: Are beings who are other than organically human to be defined as “persons” or “humans” just as readily as we define any “person” who “extends themselves” into the world through merely their organic body? One day soon, there may be a ‘being’ who extends themselves into the world through merely a computer interface. On the screen in front of us, we may see a line of text which – in that moment of time – is the only extension of a being’s body into physical space. Yet this text and its animating underpinning may contain a degree of intellect that transcends that screen: is this a being with a soul? Perhaps that being may even construe themselves as possessing no other...

Read More

Cyborg Eschatology: Whitehead and Post-Humanity (Part I)

i. Environment and Actuality In Western thought, one person’s ego is often considered primary: the individual “I” is the focus of many historical Western Christian conceptions of salvation and sin. In contrast, Eastern philosophy has often emphasized a “flux” of existences which co-exist in community. As Christian influence has waned in Western philosophy, contemporary cultural thinkers like Heidegger and Derrida have spoken out of a so-called post-modern and post-sacred ethos. Yet despite the “death of God” drama, within Heidegger’s Dasein or Derrida’s “speaking subject” the Western conception of the individual’s being in the world as a matter of ultimate focus has nearly always been retained. The essentially ego-centric thought structure never disappeared from...

Read More

Karl Rahner and Post-Humanism

Symbol & Cyborg: Karl Rahner’s Theology of the Body and Post-Organic Embodiment One of the more interesting features of Karl Rahner’s influential “Theological Investigations” is that it is, at heart, a theology of symbols. In fact, Rahner writes that “die ganze Theologie, ohne nicht auch wesentlich eine Symboltheologie zu sein.” God comes to our life on earth through symbols, and we respond to the divine through the use of symbol. Today, our human interactions are increasingly articulated in electronic representation, and Rahner’s symbolic emphasis seems especially applicable. After all, all software “behavior” and “virtual” activity is essential symbolic: as many have noted, computer user interfaces are essentially composed of layers of metaphorical symbols...

Read More

Enjoy what you read? Share!