April 25, 2020 to April 26, 2020
Anthropology, Philosophy, Political Science, Religious Studies and Theology, Sociology
In the last decades, the thrust of scientific and technological change has increasingly suggested that humans should doubt and even abandon their central and distinct place and role in the world. The ability to alter essential parts of the human body and/or the natural environment has become a core component of contemporary imagination. Artificial Intelligence will govern future societies, and the emerging legal debates on the status of robots as persons -or even citizens- indicate radical change in the nature of personal and social relations, work environment and labor policies, security sectors and even the nature of war. Parallel to that scholars are suggesting that animals are co-citizens, and that our ‘animality’ as an integral part of our Self. Between the beast and the machine our new world is being shaped.
This post-anthropocentric scene is post-enlightenment and post-modern in the sense that it replaces the focus of rational argumentation with the mere acceptance of any technological and scientific progress. Whatever is possible is acceptable; hence ideas of ‘post-truth’ prevail. In this posthuman world technology becomes an ideology, and experimentation has no clear ethical boundaries. The distinctions between humans, animals, robots, as well as nature, are being eliminated.
The philosophical questions that arise from the posthuman condition range from the cosmic to the ontological. Philosophy in the posthuman age would need to readdress many of its core questions on reason, space, time, free will, language and aesthetics.
As to the socio-political dimension of posthuman condition, political regimes are acquiring new technologies to control the public debate and silence voices of dissent. Artificial Intelligence is used in war and in diverse security sectors, while other socio-economic sectors are lagging behind. The immanent problem is no more ideology or totalitarianism, but the re-creation of human bodies and minds that are prone to submit to machines, in an age of “liquid surveillance”. The Panopticon is getting larger, and the state apparatus is more brutal.
At the economic level, one can question the meaning of the new capitalism of science and technology and its implications for the global South, which merely consumes technology. How will societies face the emerging new economic modes of production if they over-depend on robots and artificial intelligence? Will millions of people turn into redundant and basically “useless” organisms, a burden on the power that manipulates technology and benefits from it? How will that effect social justice and stability? Should we anticipate massive violence by or against the “useless masses”? How will this threaten the struggle for national and global peace?
As to the social level, how can technology be an obstacle to human development and interaction? How would biotechnology reshape the human body beyond gender? What implications does this have for the self, family structures, and social dynamics?
There is also a secular-religious divide in these debates, in which religion is quite marginalized. Religious responses largely address the dangers of technology. They are either part of a religious critique of modernity, or a quest for conservatism. They address partial questions related to technology as a medium and question its moral consequences and boundaries. At the institutional level between the statements of the pope and the fatwas of the sheikhs, lots of substantial issues are neglected. Obviously, a more comprehensive vision that can transcend that can transcend that divide is needed.
In short, can posthumanism lead to antihumanism and the corrosion of civilization?
Topics for such a forum should include the philosophical, ethical, legal, political, economic, sociological, anthropological, psychological dimensions, as well as literary and artistic expressions. The questions above are some of the many that this forum calls scholars to reflect upon. Below are further suggested topics for consideration and many other issues can be added:
- What philosophy for a posthuman age?
- A new philosophy of science?
- Bio-mechanically enhanced bodies
- Virtual and augmented realities
- Perceiving the masses: from the “savage” to the “useless”
- Information technology and politics: surveillance and the end of free will?
- From global wars to mini-drones: technology and war
- The city and techne: the rise and fall of civility
- Social media and the death of reason
- Artificial and intelligent: the future of the robot as a “person”
- Mediating religion: technology and faith
- Beyond male and female: the posthuman invented self
- Technology, the environment and sustainability
- The technological gap and the future of civilization
- Dystopia and the future of humanity: literary and cinematic approaches
- Futuristic studies and religious visions for the coming age
- Synthetic biology and its impact
- Science fiction and cinema: imagining the future
Papers can be presented in English, Turkish, or Arabic
Accommodation will be provided by Ibn Haldun University.
Travel expenses: There is limited budget to cover travel expenses. Priority will be given to qualified papers.
Abstract proposals Abstracts (400-500 word) must be submitted along with an academic CV by October 15, 2019 at civilizationsforum.org