MA Interdisciplinary Humanities Thesis Defence, “Fiction in the Integrated Circuit”
By: Eric Stein
Supervisor: Dr. Jens Zimmermann Second Reader: Dr. Holly Nelson
External Examiner: Dr. John Bonnett, Associate Professor, Department of History, Brock University, Ontario
Exam Chair: Dr. Bruce Shelvey
This study takes up the question of the cyborg through a close reading of key historical texts in the technical and scientific literature informing modern integrated circuit technology, and of twentieth- and twenty-first century texts in continental theory and philosophy. By placing such sources into dialogue, terminological and conceptual parallels between these disparate disciplines can be drawn, allowing for the specification of abstract philosophical claims in the realm of computing and communications technology, and the generalization of concrete technological forms in the realm of philosophical argument. Such a bridging work allows for the articulation of a living and real connection therebetween, an elaboration of a structure that produces real entities and real modalities of thought. And within this structure, at the heart of this woven juncture between metaphysics and technology, dwells the cyborg.
Through the close-reading here outlined, this study aims to articulate a morphology of the cyborg as a philosophical, political, and technological subject uniquely situated and acting in the world, so providing a coherent schematic for understanding our contemporary technical being. The notion of truth and knowledge held by some as representation or correspondence is not tenable for such conditions of existence; the cyborg, in her historical, concrete constitution, in her embedded, compromised, skillful, and passionate labour, provides us with an image of an alternative.
The cyborg has never been permitted the purity of a position from which the world might be surveyed, organized, and ruled. She has never been permitted such access to the ‘real.’ She has only ever been allowed her dreams, her stories, her fictions. Yet, in this denigration of her authority, the cyborg discloses the impurity of all knowledge and identity, posing a potent challenge to the representational paradigm of thought and providing us with a new logic of being that seeks connection instead of power and the intimacy of relation instead of privilege. Through her fictions, barred from the proper and authoritative domain of the ‘real,’ the cyborg discovers the otherwise of being, the engine of possibility, the openness of what is to becoming, newness, and life. This study’s final intent is to root this otherwise in the material conditions of technical existence, thereby allowing for the development of a transformative practice out of a positive potentiality of the very world that we inhabit.