Re: SOC/BIO: George Will joins the bioluddites

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sun Jan 21 2001 - 19:47:01 MST

At 02:21 AM 22/01/01 +0100, Anders wrote:

>Note the assumption that genetic engineering will make us beastly -
>there is room for an entire postmodern essay about the assumptions
>hidden in that reasoning. It is intriguingly modernistic/conservative
>in its bias against the beastly

A palpable hit!

>I think the big problem postmodernists [...] see with transhumanist
technologies for
>self-modification is that they make someone (me or my child) an object
>of transformation, hence reducing the person. Making humans objects =

It's so hard to know what the standard pomo/poststructuralist position is
likely to be on such a topic.

On the one hand, the objection you summarize is actually classically
*humanist*, maybe Kantian, and assumes the sovereignty of a unified person
or subject. Subverting that posit is at the core of the postmodern project
(and, of course, much of cognitive science). So you can have somewhat pomo
people like Donna Haraway famously proclaiming herself a feminist cyborg.

On the other, one key to many post-discourses is `self-fashioning', just
the kind of strange loop self-construction you mention. In practice,
because of pomo's source in Marxist and postmarxist discourses, you often
find a lot of analyses that denounce market commodification of the body and
the individual, complaints that really do sound more like traditional
humanist ideology. (Most of the talk on this list about `inalienable
rights' and other mystical individualist beliefs derive, of course, from
18th century deist liberal humanism.)

Damien Broderick

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