Philip Geck

Imagining Posthumans, Narrating One Human Life: Anthropological Decisions in Nick Bostrom and Karl Barth

Volume 8 () / Issue 1, pp. 108-129 (22)
Published 16.03.2022

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The technological possibilities of the digital age have raised fundamental anthropological questions. Can human beings reach a new ontological status and become 'posthumans,' as philosopher Nick Bostrom argues? This paper makes the case for a realistic perspective that takes into account the complex and rich reality of the human being as we find it to be. Bostrom's posthumanism seems to fall short of this reality because he reduces the human to specific capacities that become 'posthuman' abstractions as soon as they are taken out of the human life that we lead. His imaginative description of posthuman reality (Part 1) and a current debate in narrative theory and complexity science (Part 2) show that this discourse cannot transcend human reality, but lives by it. Part 3 discusses Karl Barth's theological perspective on the human being. Barth, irritatingly, narrows down the question of the human to the lived existence of one individual, Jesus of Nazareth. In this way, Barth tries to take account of the unique reality of the human being without reducing it to specific features that may be abstracted from the lived human life.