Peter Sloterdijk is Germany's most controversial thinker and media theorist. He has dared to challenge long-established divisions in traditional philosophy of body and soul, subject and object, culture and nature. His 1999 lecture on "Regulations for the Human Park," in which he argued that genetic engineering was a continuation of human striving for self-creation, stirred up a tempest in a country known for Nazi eugenics. At the same time, he himself has concluded that "the taming of man has failed" as civilization's potential for barbarism has grown ever greater. His seminal books include "Critique of Cynical Reason" and his trilogy, "Spheres."At a recent Berggruen Center on Philosophy and Culture symposium on humans and technology at Cambridge University's St. John's School of Divinity, The WorldPost discussed with Sloterdijk the end of borders between humans and technology, the cloud, singularity and identity in the age of globalization. For years now, you have been arguing that a new type of being was coming into existence, as the human species fuses with its technological prosthetics -- "anthropo-technology." In this new being, man and machine are becoming one integrated, operative system linked by information. All these years later, our consciousness has expanded into the cloud and the cloud into our consciousness; we have also learned to read, write and edit the genetic code, giving us the knowledge to purposively amend millennia of evolution. How does your concept of "anthropo-technology" differ, or how is it similar, to that of futurist and AI proponent Ray Kurzweil's idea of "singularity"? Kurzweil sees not only an epistemic break with the past, but a new phase of evolution altogether that reaches beyond consciousness into being and biology.
The concept of "anthropotechnics" rests on the hypothesis that the current psychophysical and social constitution of the species Homo sapiens -- note the evolutionist emphasis of this classification -- is based substantially on autogenic effects. In this context, the term "autogenic" means "brought about by the repercussions of actions on the actor." The human being -- especially in so-called "advanced civilizations" -- is the animal that molds itself into its own pet. While evolution means adaptation to a natural environment, domestication means, from the outset, adaptation to the artificial.
What we call "civilizations" in moral and cultural-theoretical terms are, from the perspective of biological anthropology (which deals with the animal/human distinction), the result of a long sequence of auto-domestications. Tens of thousands of years before the Greek oracle could write the motto "Know thyself" above the place of encounter with the truth, the great mothers, chieftains and sorcerers had applied a different one to the lives of their own kind: "Tame thyself!" This led to what would become known much later as "education" -- in Greek paideia, in Latin humanitas, in Sanskrit vinaya, in Chinese wenhua and in German Bildung. ...[Continue reading on The Huffington Post]