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The posthuman : hostis humani generis? : science fiction allegories/social narratives

By Mark Bryan Bridger Smith


Whether in the guise of the novel or non-print media such as film and television,\ud fin-de-millennium science fiction has provided opportunities to envisage a\ud posthuman stage of evolution. The academic response to this has been polarized.\ud Certain elements have embraced the genre as integral to the sociocultural\ud relationship between unfettered biotechnological advance and the limitation of the\ud human flesh. Others have treated the topic as fanciful entertainment, leading them\ud to ignore and sometimes ridicule research on the posthuman. The thesis seeks to\ud utilise the contemporary science fiction allegory as an aid in developing a critique\ud of the emerging posthuman discourse, facilitating the analysis of its socio-political\ud dynamic, and questioning whether discourse advancement necessitates the\ud rejection of the humanist metanarrative.\ud The thesis is divided into six chapters. The first chapter differentiates the\ud posthuman from established biotechnological discourses, e mg the\ud discontinuities in global location, temporal engagement, and participant ideology.\ud The second reflects on the contemporary human condition associated with man's\ud technological ingenuity being a credible threat to his own existence. It then\ud outlines the epochal technoscience of the posthuman and introduces the\ud diametrically opposed standpoints of the posthuman as amelioration, or autoextinction.\ud The third chapter draws upon utopian visions of the future to\ud contextualise and assist in the critical analysis of narratives advocating posthuman\ud technoscience. The fourth chapter reverses this, by utilising dystopian imagery as\ud an entree into the rationale of those opposing human alteration, facilitating its\ud critique. The fifth chapter sees the science fiction allegory as a postfoundationalist\ud narrative, offering up a discursive mirror to the influences of\ud providence and progress on the posthuman debate. The final chapter examines\ud whether an a-humanist account of man's relationship with technology might help\ud to advance the posthuman debate

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