[ExI] Wrestling with Embodiment

Jeff Davis jrd1415 at gmail.com
Sun Jan 29 16:53:52 UTC 2012

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: katherine hayles <nk_hayles at yahoo.com>
Date: Sun, Jan 29, 2012 at 5:34 AM
Subject: Re: folks seeking clarification of your "disembodied"
To: Jeff Davis <jrd1415 at gmail.com>

Dear Jeff Davis, Anders, Natasha and others, I am not sure where folks
got the idea that I think humans are disembodied.  Indeed, the thrust
of my argument in "How We Became Posthuman" is to insist that humans
are embodied, as are machines also, for that matter, although in very
different ways than humans.  From my point of view, embodiment--the
neocortex, central nervous system, peripheral nervous system, viscera,
endocrine system, flesh in general--is the ground for human being.  I
wrote "Posthuman" specifically to combat the fantasy that I found in
Hans Moravec and other transhumanists that it would be possible to
transfer human subjectivity, perceived as an informational pattern,
into a computer without losing anything essential.  This view sees
information as disembodied and reduces the enormous complexity of
human embodiment only to an informational pattern.  Because it is a
pattern, this reasoning goes, it can be duplicated in another
substrate without any significant loss.  This view, I think, is
profoundly mistaken on several counts.  I would be sad if anyone is
under the illusion that I support this view.   I think the
transhumanists have some things right, in particular, that
human-machine cognitions are already entwined in developed countries
and will become more so as the 21st century progresses.  But this
won't be because humans will leave their bodies behind.  My new book,
"How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis," explores
this idea in depth and tries to sort out its implications.  Thanks for
your message, Jeff; I hope the explanation above clears up things a
bit.  Katherine Hayles

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