- Paperback: 364 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (February 15, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226321460
- ISBN-13: 978-0226321462
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics 1st Edition
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The title of this scholarly yet remarkably accessible slice of contemporary cultural history has a whiff of paradox about it: what can it mean, exactly, to say that we humans have become something other than human? The answer, Katherine Hayles explains, lies not in ourselves but in our tools. Ever since the invention of electronic computers five decades ago, these powerful new machines have inspired a shift in how we define ourselves both as individuals and as a species.
Hayles tracks this shift across the history of avant-garde computer theory, starting with Norbert Weiner and other early "cyberneticists," who were the first to systematically explore the similarities between living and computing systems. Hayles's study ends with artificial-life specialists, many of whom no longer even bother to distinguish between life forms and computers. Along the way she shows these thinkers struggling to reconcile their traditional, Western notions of human identity with the unsettling, cyborg directions in which their own work seems to be leading humanity.
This is more than just the story of a geek elite, however. Hayles looks at cybernetically inspired science fiction by the likes of Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, and Neal Stephenson to show how the larger culture grapples with the same issues that dog the technologists. She also draws lucidly on her own broad grasp of contemporary philosophy both to contextualize those issues and to contend with them herself. The result is a fascinating introduction--and a valuable addition--to one of the most important currents in recent intellectual history. --Julian Dibbell
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Top customer reviews
The text itself is excellent. If you are interested in this subject, N. Katherine Hayles is a fantastic writer who explains the posthuman very well.