In Whose Image? Representations of Technology and the ‘Ends’ of Humanity
Keywords:posthuman, digital, cybernetic, technology, human nature,
This article is an attempt to introduce a theological voice into the discussion about the ethical and existential implications of the so-called ‘posthuman’, and in particular whether the digital, cybernetic or genetic age represents an endangerment to the survival of the human subject or the means towards the evolution of a successor species. This is of particular interest to theology when even the most secular of technoscientific discourses make use of religious language to describe their aspirations. I will argue that representations of technologies as either endangerment or promise are underpinned by implicit value-judgements as to the relationship between our technological capabilities and the ends (teloi) of human nature. I begin to examine some of the ways in which theologically-derived understandings of persons as made in the image of God (imago Dei) may be of relevance in talk of the transition of homo sapiens to techno sapiens, and whether that is broadly affirming of, or suspicious towards, technological endeavour. Two themes emerge as requiring further integration into a fully-worked theological anthropology, however. The first is the notion of humanity ‘co-evolving’ with its tools and technologies as agent and object of transformation; and the second is that of human hybridity, our fundamental complicity and interdependence with the rest of the material world.
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