Week 10 summary – man machine

The final week of the course – boo hoo!

This week my blog has been focusing on the idea of the cyborg and whether the addition of superhuman parts makes them less human. Is this physical addition stripping the human of what Muris (2003) refers to as physical embodiment – the spirit, conciousness and identity? I don’t think that this is so as in essence it is the addition of a physical peice, but perhaps the person who has the addition to their body may experience feelings of alienation because of their difference to others? This may then effect their own feelings of embodiment with the part of the body that has been replaced? Pickering (2005) discusses academics carving up the sciences into human and non human and suggests the addition of non human to human creates non human. Pickering wants to focus on the interface between the human and non human – where they overlap. This suggests that the body part is not actually human if it is a prosthetic, however it is being controlled by the same spirit and conciencse that the other parts are being controlled by – so why is this so. What can be judged as human ability and what as non human and where is the line drawn? In the case of the Olympics size of the prosthetic affected what was classed as non human ability. “In a post-race interview Pistorius said it was “an unfair race” because Oliveira was wearing elongated running blades which added about four inches to his height and, more pertinently, his stride length.An IPC spokesman says the blades of all the athletes were measured prior to the Games and all were deemed to be within the rules” (a)

Is the fact that the body part is controlled by humans mind what makes it a human body part? The artist Stelarc experimented with the idea of the body as obsolete and allowed others to electrically control his muscular movement. If he were to compete in the Olympics but his body and muscles were controlled by others would he be allowed to participate in the “normal” olympics or the paraolympics and would it be considered as an equal competition?

I am not sure where this all fits in but my mind is going crazy with ideas and with the most conceptually difficult of readings

I have also been focusing more on the idea of the meme, which links in well with this discussion on what is and isn’t human. I have looked at he idea that the meme has an identity and this identity can be parasitic or enhancing. But how is the meme supported? Do we have an actual part in our brains which supports the replicator. And if so how human is the meme?

Muri, A. (2003). Of Shit and the Soul: Tropes of Cybernetic Disembodiment in Contemporary Culture. Body & Society, 9/3
Pickering, A. (2005). Asian eels and global warming: a posthumanist perspective on society and the environment. Ethics and the Environment, 10(2), 29-43
(a) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/paralympic-sport/9517576/Oscar-Pistorius-controversy-Alan-Oliveiras-blades-dont-look-right.html

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