AbstractThe informatisation of our image of the human being
Serious reflection is required to determine our position regarding our image of the human being. The image we maintain is of critical importance. It determines interhuman relations and human action. The traditional notion of the human subject as absolute, self-certain and autonomous has been comprehensively questioned for some decades and can be considered outdated. This rethinking has a long history and a diversity of insights has been developed by many influential thinkers. Processes of informatisation play a significant role in the development of these different perspectives.
Three developments seem prominent. The first is the development of the notion of the so-called “decentred subject”. The second development puts more emphasis on the mechanical – more specifically the mechanisation of the mind, with the consequent renunciation of human spirituality. This perspective is a predecessor of the third development which entails a further degeneration of human subjectivity. Non-corporeal consciousness can now be downloaded onto computers. The figure of the posthuman emerges. Problems of fallibility, mortality and ageing will disappear. Although such an apocalyptic viewpoint may indeed sound tempting, it leaves many crucial questions unanswered.
On the other hand, when dealt with differently, this process of rethinking brings forward some rich and new articulations of what it means to be human, which can be of great significance for individuality and sociality in the light of the crises that threaten to fatally derail contemporary societies worldwide. It is, moreover, not totally unrelated to the other three ways and receives its inspiration from them.
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