Philosophical Seminar: Mr David O'Brien, Ph.D. Candidate 'Philosophical Anthropology and Transhumanism'

Thursday, April 19, 2018 - 15:00 to 17:00
JH 7, John Hume Building

This paper is an engagement with transhumanism as a cultural phenomenon whose conceptual and theoretical roots stem from a direct attempt to formulate a coherent philosophy of the human future. This philosophy is understood according to an evolutionary dynamic of ‘technological convergence’ and is expressed in terms of techno-scientific progress and capabilities. On a fundamental level, transhumanism is built on an explicit re-imagining of what it means to be human and the technological developments of late modernity mean that the human condition has been reformulated as the ‘techno-human condition’. Drawing on Philosophical Anthropology the analysis focuses on the functional role played by images of the self, both on a macro level as our cultural creations, and on a micro level as our online personas; both of which act as mirrors whose reflection reveals something of who we are, and something of who aspire to be. Within the philosophy of transhumanism, the human being stands at the boundary of biology and technology, where the limitations of our biological inheritance, such as disease, old age, and death point to the past, and technology paves the way to the posthuman future. The question of what functional role self-image might play in our evolutionary development is investigated through the concept of the ‘Quantified Self’ and addressed within the context of the ubiquitous use of technology in the ‘Information Age’. This is done by investigating the implications, with respect to philosophical anthropology, of a ‘digital’ world view whose ontology of data can be traced to insights regarding DNA, the human genome, and genetic coding that have their origins within the biological sciences. 

The Speaker:
David O'Brien has a BA PPE and MA in Modern and Contemporary Philosophy from Maynooth University. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate who lectures and tutors in the Philosophy Department at Maynooth University, working under the supervision of Dr Susan Gottlöber on Philosophical Anthropology and Transhumanism. 
His research interests include Philosophical Anthropology (with particular reference to the work of Max Scheler) , Philosophy of Technology, Trans-and-Post-humanism (with a focus on the intersection of classical Philosophical Anthropology and contemporary re-imaginings of the human condition that are explicitly informed by technological development, as part of an exploration into the functional role self-image plays in futurist philosophical discourse regarding human evolution).