T110
What does it mean to be Human in the 21st Century?
Convenors:
Paul Martin (University of Sheffield)
Ilke Turkmendag (Newcastle University)
Stream:
Tracks
Location:
M214
Start time:
1 September, 2016 at 14:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

This track brings together papers that consider understandings of what it means to be human in the 21st Century, how established notions are being remade in the light of new scientific and technological knowledge, and the formation of new politics, norms and imaginaries around future humans.

Long abstract:

New scientific knowledge of behaviour, cognition and sociality is challenging established ideas about the key characteristics that define us as human. In contrast to evolutionary discourses in the 1970s and 80's of people being selfish, rational actors, contemporary biology is increasingly constructing humans as altruistic, emotional and pro-social by nature. At the same time, new digital and biomedical technologies are reshaping the human body and enhancing physical capabilities and cognitive capacities. This has inspired novel imaginaries of technology enabled future humans and new utopian social movements, such as transhumanism. However, this focus on the perfectability of the body raises important questions about what is a 'normal' human. Conceptually, such tensions are reflected in the debate between post-humanist narratives that decentre the human and blur the boundaries between humans, animals and machines, and transhumanist ideas that stress human uniqueness and superiority. Such disputes have important political and normative implications. This track seeks to bring together a range of empirical and conceptual papers that consider contemporary understanding of what it means to be human in the 21st Century, how established notions are being remade in the light of new scientific and technological knowledge, and the formation of new politics, norms and imaginaries around future humans. This might include work on: new knowledge production regarding the biology of altruism, (economic) decision making and sociality; human enhancement/ modification technologies; imagined human futures; disability and ablism; theories of post- and transhumanism; and new biologies (e.g. epigenetics and neuroplasticity). SESSIONS: 4/4/4