Accepted Paper:

The stranger within: technical self-formation as sublimation  

Author:

Ciano Aydin (University of Twente/ Delft University of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

Inspired by Lacan and Nancy I will investigate how technical mediation approach could account for what in technical self-formation escapes our control, which could help us to understand technical self-formation as an ethics of sublimation, instead of an ethics of self-constitution and self-regulation.

Paper long abstract:

The idea of "self-formation" is often presented as an alternative to essentialist notions of the self: the self is not an a priori given entity but rather shapes itself by imparting a particular form to its interactions. Since technologies play an ever-stronger role in this shaping ourselves, self-formation is ever more technical self-formation, which for transhumanists gives rise to boundless aspirations for self-enhancement.

Inspired by Lacan's "The Thing" (La Chose) and Nancy's "Intruder" (L'Intrus) I will show that experiences of self-formation not only reveal that the agent that does the forming (the subject) is not identical to the object that is formed but also (and this is crucial) that this object is not a 'patient' that we can completely control and mold as we please. Lacan and Nancy teach us that in attempts to technically modify ourselves we come across "some-Thing," a "Stranger," that escapes imagination and representation. Lacan even believes that all our traditional ethical frameworks are nothing else than attempts to domesticate and make invisible this 'Monster' within, whereas the goal of a more genuine ethics, he believes, ought to be finding ways to live with this "Thing." The question that I want to explore is how from a "technical mediation" approach we could account for "alterity relations within' and understand technical self-formation as an ethics of sublimation, instead of an ethics of self-constitution and self-regulation.

Panel T145
Postphenomenological Research: Technologies, Robots, and Human Identity