Heidegger for Cyborgs

The sun isn’t effective because I use it. Rather it can only be used because it is capable of an effect, of inflicting some sort of blow on reality. Graham Harman, Towards Speculative Realism (p. 51)

So it seems that the closer we get to objectivity, the further away we veer from the perceiving human being, and accordingly the more we swaddle ourselves in a contradiction. The critical project of Kant was an attempt to displace this question, such that the two sides would be mutually implicated by the very reason of their entailing one another. The recognition of the ability to posit both object and subject would lead Fichte to seek security in an absolute solipsism, but this was but one of the possibilities within the critical project, rather than its inevitable unfolding. As such, to question the distinction that has long held there to be a barrier between me and my world isn’t doomed. Is it?

Harman engages us with Heidegger’s project of splitting reality. Subject/object, Dasein/Sein, Vorhandenheit/Zuhandenheit … it’s an old story. I wish to suggest a possible problem here which is not of the “perceived requires a perceiver” variety. Consider instead the conditions of perception. In its myriad forms, it is predicated upon natural phenomena, and our evolved biological apparatus which capitalise upon said phenomena. The ‘end’ of this (such as it is), is to gain a competitive edge over environment (i.e., the conditions found there – scarcity of food, weather, etc.) and other life forms (such as predators, but crucially including fellow competitors of the same species). These senses such as sight and by no means absolute givens. They are evolutionary contingents. Stunningly successful adaptations, there’s no denying, but does this free us of the duty to think through our senses? I do not believe so. 

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The danger with anthropomorphism of any kind, of Vorhandenheit, of Dasein, of the subject, is that it separates. It does not accurately depict the reality of our existence on any timescale when it separates us from our environment. We are not conditioned per se, but we are implicated. The mind/body idea was a hack, a kludge. It was a solution (if inelegant) to a series of difficulties that arose out of human thought and the history of ideas (with the waning of religion and the waxing of science proper in the seventeenth century). It should be dispensed with. Not replaced, not finessed, not supplemented. Dropped. With this, some new possibilities appear. We can see that Vorhandenheit does not allow things to be present to claw, or pincer, sucker or tentacle, magnetic field or radio wave. We need an extension on this essay at thinking about the world that tallies with all the possibilities of the world, and not just the contingent and messy set of circumstances that bewilder us right now. 

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One thought on “Heidegger for Cyborgs

  1. Pingback: Visual representation of philosophical thought « Wetwiring

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