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Speakers Thweat, Jennifer
Year 2018
See also Oxford University Podcasts

Thweat- Cyborgs in the Garden

Jennifer Thweatt

Flager College Friday 

“Cyborgs in the Garden”

The question posed by potentially transformative technologies is “what sort of creature do we want to become,” but of course this presupposes an answer to the prior question, “what sort of creature are we?” How we define human deeply informs our understanding of the possibilities, plausibility, and desirability of the what we call the posthuman. In situating cyborgs in the Garden, I imply that to be human is simultaneously to be created in the image of God and to be “cyborg.” This implication pushes back against several notions at once: an anti-material supernaturalism; an anti-spiritual materialism; an anti-technological naturalism; an anti-social anthropology. Working from a relational interpretation of the Christian doctrine of creatio in imago dei, I argue that relationality, with others both human and nonhuman, is what defines us theologically. Drawing upon the work of Donna Haraway, I argue that relationality is the implication of cyborg hybridity. Taken together, visualizing cyborgs in the Garden gives us a starting point for articulating what it is about humanity that we value, which in turn gives us a starting point for making judgments regarding potentially transformative technologies. Are these interventions expressive of an understanding of ourselves as relational, hybrid, interdependent, responsive to each other and to our environment? Do they increase our capacity for responsiveness and agency in the material world that we cohabit with human and nonhuman others?

JEANINE THWEATT holds a PhD in Philosophy and Theology (Religion and Science) from Princeton Theological Seminary. Her research interests include: theological anthropology; philosophy of science and epistemology; biotechnologies and bioethics; posthuman/transhumanism; feminist, queer, and postcolonial theologies. She is currently Visiting Lecturer of Humanities at Flagler College, St. Augustine, FL.

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