Enemy Industry
David Roden's philosophical variations
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My research has applied ideas derived from phenomenological and deconstructive thought to metaphysical issues raised by naturalistic and deflationary programs within the analytic philosophical tradition. This work has focused on philosophy of language, cognitive science and the philosophy of sound and auditory perception (See Publications). I am also interested in the interface between technology and culture: particularly in music, performance and popular culture.

My current research applies this ecumenical approach to developing a philosophical formulation of posthumanism which addresses the metaphysics of the posthuman and the ethical implications of transcending the human state. For updates see my enemyindustry blog.

Representative papers:

The Disconnection Thesis, forthcoming in The Singularity Hypothesis: A Scientific and Philosophical Assessment, Amnon Eden, Johnny Søraker, Jim Moor, and Eric Steinhart (eds.), Springer Frontiers Collection.

Posthumanism and Instrumental Eliminativism (Forthcoming)

Deconstruction and Excision in Philosophical Posthumanism, in the Journal of Evolution and Technology, Nietzsche and European Posthumanisms 21(1), 2010.

In and Out of Control: Self-Augmenting and Autonomous Technique

Cylons in the Original Position: Limits of Posthuman Justice, in Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy: Knowledge Here Begins Out There, Jason Eberl (ed), Malden Blackwell, 2008.

Radical Quotation and Real Repetition, in Ratio: An International Journal of Analytic Philosophy, XVII, June 2004

Sonic Art and the Nature of Sonic Events,  in Bullot, N.J. & Egré, P. (eds.) Objects and Sound PerceptionReview of Philosophy and Psychology 1(1), January 2010

The Subject, in Understanding Derrida: an invitation to philosophy, Jack Reynolds and Jonathan Roffe (eds.), New York: Continuum Press 2004, pp 93-102. 

Current Research: Problems of Philosophical Posthumanism

My current research addresses the philosophical issues raised by contemporary discussions of posthumanism and transhumanism within a systematic metaphysical framework.

I am developing a position which I refer to as ‘speculative posthumanism’ (SP) in contradistinction to ‘critical posthumanism’. Critical posthumanists claim that current technoscientific change ‘deconstructs’ the philosophical centrality of the human subject in epistemology, ethics and politics. SP, by contrast, is not a metaphilosophical but a metaphysical thesis. It articulates the claim that descendants of current humans could cease to be human by virtue of a history of technical augmentation and that this possibility is significant. SP is compatible with naturalistic or ‘anthropological’ humanism but not with transcendental forms of humanism – a distinction mostly elided by critical posthumanists. I also distinguish SP from the ethic of transhumanism advocated by proponents of technological enhancement. One can, like some advocates of technological relinquishment, hold that posthuman life is a significant but not desirable possibility.

SP raises several philosophical questions about posthuman difference. These form the focus of my work:

1) How wide is the relation descendant of current humans? What kinds of hypothetical non-human (synthetic lifeforms, artificial intelligences, uploaded minds, etc.) should be viewed as wide descendants?

2) Does the possibility of ceasing to be human entail a human nature? If so, does this require posthumanists to be essentialists about the kind human? Can some conception of human nature be accommodated within anti-essentialist metaphysical schemes?

3) How do ideas of posthuman transcendence (e.g. in Vinge's notion of the technological singularity) compare with traditional conceptions of transcendence developed in other philosophical movements or traditions (e.g. speculative realism, negative theology and postmodern ethics)?

4) What is the semantic and epistemological status of claims about posthumans made by pre-posthumans?

5) Given an answer to 4, is the understanding of the posthuman predicated on synthetic undertakings in areas like artificial intelligence? If so, does a theoretical interest in posthumanity entail a practical interest in creating it?

6) Assuming the need for a partially synthetic approach, I am currently developing speculative models of posthuman life based on current ideas in cognitive science and phenomenology. For example, while propositional attitude psychology is arguably part our current cognitive structure, it could be instrumentally eliminated by removing the vehicles of content required for propositional attitudes. I argue that this could occur as a result of cognitive enhancements which obviate the need for lingua-formal modes of representation and that this scenario furnishes one scenario for posthuman transcendence. I will also consider the methodology for hypothetical phenomenologies of posthuman lifeforms – e.g. multiply or heterogeneously-embodied entities or 'multi-threaded' forms of consciousness.

7) Finally, I will consider the scope for ethical and epistemological incommensurability between humans and posthumans and its ethico-political consequences for contemporary debates between the advocates of human enhancement and their bio-conservative critics.