HOMO KYBERNETES. From Onto-Genesis to the Posthuman Condition

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The author deals with the consideration of what he calls the post-metaphysical complex of the technosphere, for which the ontogenetic framework of classical metaphysics from Aristotle to Hegel is no longer valid. Instead, the question of the essence of man posits his transcendence in the emergence of Homo kybernetes, with which he removes the posthuman condition. To explain how the permeation of human and non-human appears in all areas of contemporary life as a connection and relationship of information, feedback, control and communication, it seems necessary to open the issue of the cyborgization of life itself. At the same time, the analysis of transhumanism in the opinion of Stefan Lorenz Sorgner proves to be stimulating for understanding what the digital age of the technosphere presupposes, and that is the question of the possibilities of freedom beyond its metaphysical framework as it was considered in the speculative thinking by Schelling. Instead of freedom as absolute, the time has come to establish the possibility of thinking about freedom as an experiment of thought and action beyond human reduction and its associated anthropologies that have lost their credibility in an encounter with the complexity of Homo kybernetes.

Keywords: Homo kybernetes, metaphysics, information, technosphere, onto-genesis, posthuman condition

1. Metaphysics and Technosphere

Without thoughtful reflection on the challenge of the relationship between technology and (post)humanity, it seems impossible to persist in the relationship between technoscience and humanities that would not become non-contemporary in one way or another. Although the prefix post is in parentheses, and humanity is without it, it seems obvious that today there is still something that does not reduce human prerogatives and achievements to the logic of technological singularity. As if this play between what comes after the human and what is here and now human-too-human, to use Nietzsche’s famous statement, points to the necessary difference between what constitutes the essence of posthumanism and humanity at all, which becomes the highest reach of technosphere rule in managing societies and culture with the help of artificial intelligence. But what if this small difference no longer exists or if it is suspended and neutralized? What, furthermore, if a man has never been able to separate from technology in historical development, i.e. what if we have never been humane, as Donna Haraway claims, or what if we have always been cyborgs, as Stefan Lorenz Sorgner puts it? (Haraway 1990, Sorgner 2022)

While, namely, there is a relationship between the human and the non-human, the metaphysical structure of thought is at work, even if Being is replaced with the concept of information, and beings with a multitude of pure contingencies. A relationship denotes always a possibility of a union at a distance. Synthesis, therefore, presupposes a real state of analytical separation, for example, of different substances in some hybrid assemblies such as contemporary technoscience with biogenetics, biocybernetics and biosemiotics. When we talk about the relationship between the human and the non-human, we must start from the assumption that the former is always the model for understanding the latter. Man in so-called human nature or its essence cannot be understood within metaphysics in any other way than essentialist. This means that his position within Being and his being are always given to him spiritually and biologically, i.e. vertically, following Aristotle’s famous definition of animal rationale. Furthermore, the relationship between the two, starting from the human primacy, is therefore not only horizontally reduced to biologism, from which psychologism and anthropology follow, which Heidegger in Being and Time (Sein und Zeit) tried to eliminate within the framework of the systematic “destruction of traditional ontology”. (Heidegger 2018) The reason should be seen in the fact that he considered that by doing so “man” or being there (Dasein) completely fails in his thinking and thereby reduces to exactly what he wanted to critically overcome, namely Aristotle’s definition of animal rationale. Biologicism denotes the reduction of man to naturalism, thatis, to the so-called biological factors of the whole of his own; psychologism becomes a reduction to the so-called unconscious articulation of language, which reduces man to a pre-and-post-rational living being, while anthropology means the reduction of man to the subjectivity of the subject by which all other beings appear at a lower level of cosmic-biological evolution and thus make him the master of nature as a whole. Heidegger’s critique of the reduction of the meaning of Being to the so-called life processes in their inclusive vitality affects the triad of biology-psychology-anthropology because they think a man insufficiently and inauthentically according to this conceptual-categorical “rationalization” of language. Any reduction of the human in man to the non-human necessarily fragments his integrity and irreducibility as a being among beings. However, every reduction cannot be the same as the annulment of human authentic existence in the openness of freedom. To reach the purity of the human essence, phenomenologically speaking, it is necessary to understand that such an essence comes from the dark core of the non-human, which was already known by pre-Socratic thinkers when they spoke about the relationship between demons and humanity. We should remember that Socrates was also constantly followed and urged to freely express his thoughts in public by his demon.

So, we shall see that the question of the relationship between humans and non-humans cannot be simply resolved by a vulgar distinction between the biological and the post-biological when it comes to the relationship between humans and post(humanity). It is not difficult to understand that the problem of this relationship is that both relata in the relationship are derived from the difference against the life force of what comes from the concept of nature (physis), which is life (bios). The human in the metaphysical sense is always rising above the limits of biologically understood life as mere survival at the animal level. Therefore, it seems self-evident that from this every form of animalism will be considered as a loss of the so-called human dignity. This term has its origin in connection with the ethical-aesthetic doctrines of the Renaissance notion of humanism in Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola because dignity is associated with the high rank of a human being against the bare life of an animal and the brutality with which the meaningful life of man in the historical-epoch sense is threatened by the fall to the level of bestiality, refers to the good and the beautiful that transcends the limits of life. Therefore, “human dignity” represents an ethical-aesthetic ideal of living. This transcends the limits set by biological affects and drives. After all, in borderline situations when a person defies tyrannical forms of government with his own life when he is thrown into shackles or slavishly humiliated, the last thing that remains will be the human dignity of a person as an existential experience of indomitable freedom. It seems obvious from this that life in its complex contingency has no meaning without the originally conceived freedom. However, this does not mean that the biological organization of human existence is considered null and void for man and humanity in general. (Paić 2022b, 1-36)

The human versus the non-human denotes clearly what unites spirit and life understood in a metaphysical sense, even when it comes to the realization of metaphysics in cybernetics. Namely, the spiritual always refers to the “rational”, and the vital to the “animal”, if we follow the logic of Aristotle’s definition of man. This problem of the relationship between the cognitive possibilities of man’s existence and the biological-physical limits of his physicality should by no means be lightly declared a relic of Cartesian metaphysics. This assemblage has been established in that way as a system of signifiers with which the concept of self-consciousness presupposes the necessary predominance of res cogitans over res extensa. In contemporary neuroscience and neurophilosophy, this dualism becomes critically overcome by referring to the complex structure of interaction between thought and its natural environment, starting from the notion of a network that has neither centre nor edge. But despite this “new” anti-essentialism that should abolish the distinction between human and non-human by requiring a different notion of all post-metaphysical concepts such as network, interactor, communication and cybernetic corporeality, we still live in two worlds. These worlds touch and permeate each other. For this reason, it seems that the most important philosopher of cybernetics, Gilbert Simondon, was right when he considered that the future of the relationship between humans and thinking machines does not mean the abolition of humanity in the dominance of superior technology, but an attempt to build coexistence as the only meaningful way of coherence of the analogue and digital world.

If therefore, we try to understand the non-human by starting with the human, this is self-explanatory. After all, Heidegger in Being and Time tried to show that the meaning of Being in the horizon of originaltemporality can only be explained if the meaning of the essence of being there (Dasein) is first shown in its existential-ontological spheres of the project, care and openness towards the coming future. What is different, alien and foreign to the human being is not possible to think about itself, from the own logic of the thing itself, par lui-même, but only in a roundabout way. The non-human is therefore no longer just a pure negation of man’s ability to spiritually-biologically rule his existence, system and environment of beings as such. There is something uncanny (Unheimlich) in that matters. Namely, if a man cannot be the result of any biological-animal intervention and reduction of his essence to the non-human in the sense of things and objects, then his ontological-temporal openness encompasses a completely different condition, both from the reduction to God in the sense of pure spirituality and incorporeality, as well as from the reduction to technology in the sense of pure applicative objectivity that arises from the subject-substance of modern sciences. God and technology are ways to metaphysically understand the notion of Being as téchne and poiesis from Plato to the end of metaphysics in cybernetics. (Severino 2016, 208-209)

When we have this in mind, we can see that the problem with the understanding of the non-human is primarily that what is in the posthuman condition can no longer be measured by the parameters in which mantraditionally thinks and expresses himself metaphysically. What are these parameters? Undoubtedly, the autonomy of the human essence was still for modern speculative thought from Kant to Hegel a question of the sustainability of anthropology in a pragmatic way. Man as a subject of knowledge of the external world was considered as a substantial set of reflective practices. Even for Blaise Pascal, the so-called human dignity consisted only of rational thinking. In other words, rationality becomes a condition for the possibility of human existence in the technical world, which at the same time means that science and technology are the key parameters of the human possibility of progress and development in the historical movement towards reaching object X. The paradox is, therefore, that already with the entry into the scientific-technological age, the human, i.e. humane, became an artificial construction, and not a natural act of revealing the secret of Being. Therefore, the posthuman condition cannot be just the realization of the potential of Western metaphysics, which is completed in cybernetics. What is non-human as opposed to human is nothing non-human in the sense of animalism and the bestiality of a creature or monstrous being as the embodiment of evil in a sublime state of chaos and entropy. On the contrary, the posthuman denotes a becoming (Werden, devenir) of something that transcends any distinction between living and non-living, nature and culture, Being and beings. It is therefore not at all accidental that in posthumanism, instead of God in the metaphysical sense of the first substance understood, the creator of the world and man in it, we speak of singularity as the Omega-point of joining the onto-theo-cosmo-anthropological perspective in the form of an absolute technosphere. (Paić 2022a)

What does it mean? Singularity assumes that all becoming of the universe, as evidenced by astrophysics and cosmology, is a unique and irreversible event of the process of creation and destruction of matter and energy. Theories about black holes, therefore, represent a cognitive-theoretical path in solving the mystery by which supernova explosions turn into an implosion of dark matter. From a philosophical point of view, we encounter a clear movement of the very thing of thought from the speculative-reflexive analysis of the progress and development of the primordial and its form as eidos and morphé to the last station in life, regardless of whether it is about stars, plants, animals or man and his self-consciousness. The second law of thermodynamics with the concept of entropy shows us exactly what Nietzsche metaphorically named the statement that the desert grows. This means that the order in its stability inevitably collapses and becomes, as Simondon claims, only sustainable if it is in a state of metastable equilibrium. Simondon always thinks starting from (1) trans-duction (of Being); (2) trans-individuation (of beings) and (3) metastability (of information) in the transformation of the order of metaphysics. (Simondon 2005) The fundamental concept by which singularity can be measured in the cosmic-human perspective is the fundamental parameter of the posthuman condition. Of course, this should be the term with which cybernetics begins and ends, while at the same time the entire original structure of Western metaphysical thinking collapses with it. It is about the concept of information as an absolute measure of all measures in the age of the technosphere. Without information, there is no feedback loop in the life of homeostasis systems, and there is no possibility of external and internal control of the process of the creation of events, nor, finally, is there any possibility of interactive communication. It is therefore no coincidence that Norbert Wiener, the father-founder of cybernetics, said that the key, third concept for self-rule and self-management of systems and the environment after matter and energy becomes precisely the concept of information. Hence, informational entropy has become a categorical framework for the path to absolute singularity, in which the cosmo-biological merges with the anthropo-technological. (Rieger 2003)

If, therefore, Aristotle’s definition of man as an animal rationale placed at the centre of the entire thinking of the West from the ancientGreeks to the beginnings of cybernetics in the relationship between the concept of a living being or an animal that thinks with what makes such thinking operative and pragmatic, then this connection between the spiritual and the material, or biological has become in the age of artificial intelligence not only obsolete, but also fundamentally inappropriate for the explanation of the essence of that which is no longer non-human, nor can it be determined by something that only exceeds the limits of the human, as established by the concept of transhumanism (Sorgner 2020). Why? Precisely because a “man” can no be longer at the centre of the world, as it was in the modern era, in which he appeared as the subject of thought at the origin of all possible and real paradigms for understanding the relationship between Being, God and the world. Today’s discursive congestion with the concept of the end of the Anthropocene represents a credible testimony to this (Stiegler 2018). The loss of the centre of man goes hand in hand with the gain of his so-called substitute being, that is, becoming something that can not be longer merely human as opposed to a non-human. When this distinction between man and machine is gradually lost, we encounter the hybrid status of all beings in the posthuman condition of the world’s technological worldliness. The animal rationale can no longer be a condition for the possibility of all kinds ofanthropology, from philosophical, structural, and cultural to cybernetic. In its place has come a concept that no longer elevates man to divine heights, as did Renaissance humanism, from which today’s humanities originated. After the descending period of the establishment of metaphysics announced by Nietzsche with the term “superman as the meaning of the Earth” (Nietzsche 1999, 14), the dizzying realization of the project of becoming an interplanetary nomad, which instead of static inertia rests in the dynamic notion of infinite speed, began (Deleuze and Guattari 1991/2005, 198).

To be able to fly and transform our appearance in the physical sense, we must first of all become Other, as unconditionally different from the historical-epoch worldview. This also means that Being is replaced by the process of infinite becoming. Instead of onto-genesis, techno-genesis is at work. “Man” no longer “is” something in the sense ofintentional consciousness, which, with Husserl, distinguishes between noesis and noema, consciousness and the object of consciousness. His “fate” now lies in the contingency and emergence of life itself as a construction of events. If, in contrast to Simondon, who says that a robot does not exist, we can say that with the help of technological uploading, man is transformed into a producer of information and a user of an operating system in which this information circulates and becomes pragmatic knowledge only in a certain context and situation, then his “case” might be always possible to think as pure singularity and individuation. Therefore, the term Homo kybernetes, which corresponds to this “case” of a complete transformation of the ontological place of the human in post-history, can no longer be possible to determine from the linear development of a robot controlled remotely by artificial intelligence. On the contrary, this “man” in his cognitive self-organization and self-management becomes an autonomous synthesizing of the logic of the technosphere. Beyond all metaphysical definitions, its ontological fundamental feature is that it connects information and communication into a system of global-planetary code of networked life. In the tendency-latency, Homo kybernetes, therefore, become a visualized event of synthetic thinking as the production of virtual worlds. So, that means the final farewell to every dichotomy of human-non-human, living-artificial, natural-cultural. At the end of history, as a metaphysically determined journey from the first cause to the last purpose (arché-eschaton), there remains only the endless wandering of “man” who, instead of the secret of language, is mastered by the absolute visualization of life from its origin to its disappearance. The image now precedes language as the technosphere precedes the biosphere and becomes its only remaining pledge of redemption and deliverance from ruin.

2. Stefan Lorenz Sorgner on Transhumanism

The emergence of that great Homo kybernetes with which both posthumanism and transhumanism operate in their kinship and differences certainly cannot be understood without the following essential assumptions. I carried out my analysis of this problem explicitly in five volumes of Technosphere. (Paić 2018-2019) For this consideration, it will be sufficient to indicate the following interrelated main ideas. After all, throughout the history of human thought within the circle of Western metaphysics, we encounter five fundamental, as Ernst Cassirer would say, symbolic forms in which the issue of the meaning of Being and time is crystallized. These are myth, religion, art, philosophy and science. Each of these matrixes of thinking is based on correlative concepts ‒ myth based on primordial tales (Sages), a religion on faith in otherworldly gods and God, art on the representation and presentation of the world in images and the language of the senses, philosophy is based on the conceptual articulation of Being, beings and essence of man, and science on the idea of knowledge as a path towards reaching the absolute truth about object X. This quintet of historical-epoch thinking corresponds to the number of senses in Human. It is not at all surprising that the sense of sight will become key to what the technosphere signifies as the visualization of events in synthesizing the world as an a priori-a posteriori form of thought that includes calculation, planning and construction. But what would be now decisive for moving to the other shore beyond metaphysics is that the technosphere represents the possibility, reality and necessity of the rule of the cybernetic fourth of information, feedback, control and communication. This suspends and neutralizes the four causes in the traditional Aristotelian ontology, such as causa formalis, causa materialis, causa efficiens and causa finalis. At the same time, the technosphere as a “sixth sense” or a post-metaphysical symbolic form of thought transcends the entire history of metaphysics in all aspects of its appearance. Hence, it is its realization in the sense of the dialectical notion of the abolition of opposites and contradictions (Aufhebung) in the synthesis of the triad (tollere, conservare, elevare), but it is, even more, the becoming of a new process of thinking as immanence in the irreversibility of the movement of thinking itself. In this way, paradoxically, Hegel, Heidegger, Wittgenstein and Deleuze are reconciled, because what transcends any form of rootedness in space and time and thoughts intuitively starting from the rational core of artificial intelligence, can only be “founded” on visual pragmatics knowledge, and not in language as a telling of Being. Therefore, Homo kybernetes cannot be longer a “man” or a “being there” (Dasein), nor can his post-humanity be understood only by starting from the transhuman turn in the essence of the cosmic-technological evolution of nature itself as the source of all kinds of cognitive-sensitive transformations.

To show how the logic of Homo kybernetes actions unfolds in the process of this “new” thinking that starts from the premise that we have always been cyborgs, we will briefly look at the analysis of Stefan Lorenz Sorgner, the leading philosopher of transhumanism today. As a reliable witness of this way of thinking, all the more so because he has behind him a study of Nietzsche and the concept of the superman, and because in a creatively stimulating way he combines the analytical and continental philosophy, Sorgner has in mind that the concept of humanism became not only inoperable already in the 20th century after all the interventions of Heidegger and Sloterdijk, but primarily because the emergence of the emergent digital technologies contributed to the grounding of metaphysics and the dismantling of speculative metaphysics with Hegel as the pinnacle of that direction of thought. What Sorgner calls “philosophical problems” in the discussion of transhumanism refers to the ontological, cognitive-theoretical and practical-production aspects of the change in the very essence of human substance and essence. In the book with the programmatic name We Have Always Been Cyborgs: Digital Data, Gene Technologies, and an Ethics of Transhumanism, we can discern how the relationship between cybernetics, biogenetics and bioethics is tried to be considered, conditionally speaking, since the categorical-conceptual order is established with the formal primacy of information. It should be clear that this is not about the Kantian way of establishing the triad of thinking, but about the necessary convergence between ontology, epistemology and ethical-political postulates. How, then, does Sorgner determine what the essence of transhumanism is concerning metaphysics in general and especially concerning different positions on the same “philosophical problem”? Interestingly, Sorgner points out that, starting from man’s desire for a good life since Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, the problem we face with transhumanism cannot be in the utopia of immortality, but in an attempt to lead such a life with improved health in the physical and cognitive sense.

“Yet neither cryonics nor mind uploading seem to be the most promising techniques for promoting this goal. This being the case, it needs to be pointed out that immortality is not a realistic option. We cannot even conceptualize the notion of immortality on the basis of a naturalistic understanding of the world. Immortality implies either that humans cannot or that they must not die. Both options are absurd, if we think of the world on a naturalistic basis. In this case, the universe began with the Big Bang. It has expanded since then, and eventually, the expansion process will slow down so that the entire universe will come to a standstill. A different theory is that at a certain stage the expansion process will become revised into a contraction process that will end up in a cosmological singularity, a point of immense density. In both cases, there does not seem to be a realistic option for human beings to survive. (…) Hence, it is clear that immortality in its literal sense cannot be a realistic option for most transhumanists.” (Sorgner 2022a, 6-7)”

Immortality, therefore, is excluded as the realistic solution. However, it should be quite obvious that the aspiration to reach the perfect state of a good life led healthily and effectively cannot stop at the virtues of prudence (phronesis) and perhaps even stoic ataraxia in the face of the inevitable fate of being chained to nature and the biological constitution of the human species. Moreover, this version of transhumanism advocated by Sorgner tends to be both “realistic” and “anti-naturalistic”, and at the same time cannot deny the fact that the concept of information in cybernetics becomes the result of digital constructivism. What is offered in the utopian horizon of posthumanism, on the other hand, for example with the postulate of singularity in the sense of the transition of the human to the posthuman condition by transferring the individuation of man as a person into the operative program of cyborgization and computer simulation, is not obvious to Sorgner the right measure between ontology, cognitive theory and ethical-political actions. Therefore, it is self-explanatory why the utopian dimension of transhumanism as a possibility of achieving immortality is rejected. Instead of this impossible goal, which from the point of view of the natural-cosmic evolution of the universe is even absolutely unattainable and not just absurd, Sorgner defend

“a non-utopian version of transhumanism, as I regard utopias as extremely dangerous. Thereby, the present becomes sacrificed for a future which most probably will never be actualized.” (Sorgner 2022a, 7)

If, however, we see transhumanism as a philosophical consideration of the possibility of crossing the boundaries of the human-too-human, then it will not at all be surprising why the only two techniques in the utopian horizon of reaching post-humanity are related to the notion of immortality or the singularity of man as a species. Namely, both cryonics and uploading of the human mind are technological postulates, not actualized means of technological development at the current level of knowledge about the impossible. Moreover, these techniques seem mutually convergent because they assume the revival of a dead body and the transfer of its soul/spirit into the logic of Homo kybernetes. When we talk about the primordial notion of man, then we have in mind a mythical-religious image of the world in which this being is in mediation with other beings with the help of that natural-biological and technological approach to the supernatural, i.e. the divine, like the mythical Icarus as the prototype of human flight into space or like a centaur as a mythical creature composed of two substances. Transhumanism is to that extent the logic of the transgression of metaphysics at its end. What these opinion crosses are the boundaries of the animal-human body and the human soul-spirit in creating a hybrid complex of what is no longer human in the traditional sense of metaphysics, but which is not even a posthuman being similar to a cyborgized creature from SF-dystopia. It becomes, therefore, a transitional state, between two mutually close and distant worlds. For Sorgner, the analogue age of the Anthropocene and the digital age of the technosphere turn out to be theCarbon Age and the Silicon Age. (Sorgner 2022a, 22-109) Of course, these are metaphors that point to a distinction in the understanding of transhumanism, starting from what belongs to the technological postulate and what belongs to bioethical judgments about the limits to which the imaginable installation of implants in the body can go, as well as surgical-pharmacological interventions to improve the structure of the human body.

However, everything that has been said is still not enough for us to start with a true philosophical discussion about the essence of transhumanism in the ontological-epistemological sense. Why? Because there is no answer to the question of why we have always been cyborgs. Sorgner claims that

“Our turning into cyborgs is a development which has taken place since we became Homo sapiens. Acquiring a language is the first human upgrade. (…) The term ‘cyborg’ means cybernetic organism. The word cyber comes from the ancient Greek kybernήτης, which means helmsman or pilot. So a cyborg is a governed, a steered organism.” (Sorgner 2022a, 9)

The governed simultaneously governs by being connected in interaction with other interactors in the network of life processes. The cybernetic way of thinking exists always in dualities, and not in trinities as in the previous metaphysics. The logic of the digital world, after all, rests on the binary code 0-1. Cyborgization, therefore, means programming the world as a contingent case. It is possible to manage systems and the environment only when the condition of the possibility of cybernetic thinking is realized in language as a pragmatic form of life. Such a language becomes a visual conceptualization of the relationship between structures and functions. Since the image in the digital environment no longer shows or represents anything, the action of metaphysically established thinking in philosophy, art and sciences have been suspended. The image cannot be a function of something external, nor does it arise from an otherworldly source like God’s hidden presence, as it was during the reign of the referential frame of myth and religion. Instead, the image shows and expresses what happens in the process of the emergence of life itself in the phenomenon. The connection of genes and information as the emergence of new life determines, for example, the essence of bio-art and trans-gene art. (Sorgner 2022b, Paić 2022b, 191-219) When we have all this in mind, it should be not difficult to understand that the essence of transhumanism in the philosophical sense necessarily appears within the framework of what belongs to posthumanism, which is the realization of the essence of the technosphere in a posthuman condition. If for Nietzsche the last man was a preparation for the arrivalof superman as the meaning of the Earth, then in the case of Homo kybernetes we find ourselves in a position of thinking that can nolonger be philosophical or artistic, nor scientific research into the first reason and the last purpose of the human-too-human in the age of the global-planetary development of the technosphere. Cyborgization denotes the last instantiation of the production of technologically perfected and improved “beings” that have become hybrid structures and applications of genes and information in everyday life. Why are we talking about “the last instance” of this border crossing between the human and the posthuman? Because what inevitably comes can no longer be non-autonomous and non-self-regulating. What is coming as a technological singularity must necessarily be freed from any external management of the system and environment. And this means that technosphere thinking requires overcoming the limits of metaphysical thinking as a whole starting from the introduction of the concept of autopoiesis (Paić 2021, 431-456). Sorgner, as we can see, from the so-calledrealistic perspectives removes the futuristic-utopian techniques that one direction of transhumanism explicitly promotes. These are cryonics and uploading. Body and mind are no longer considered Cartesian, but anti-essentialist. If the approach to the new cybernetic physicality is derived from a different relationship to the term “enhancement”, then here we must distinguish between technique as a means and emergent technology as a means-end of the entire process of creating a cyborgized posthuman condition. Since the invention of language at the dawn ofhuman evolution was the beginning of what we call animal rationale, one should be extremely careful with the assumption about the future of language in a posthuman condition. The reason is that the pragmatics of know-how thinking only needs formalized rules of use for a thing or setof events to be realized virtually. Language thereby loses its meaning or purpose in what Heidegger attributed to the telling thought of human existence (Dichten). (Heidegger 2002) Instead, all humanities and what Sorgner calls posthuman art need a different linguistic articulation of a meaningful horizon in the interaction of system and environment. Such a changed character of the language in the logic of new media instead of syntactic-semantic clarity of speech becomes a kind of white noise in communication. In this way, the pictorial structure of language in the age of the technosphere, as already announced by Ludwig Wittgenstein in Philosophical Investigations, becomes a language game (Sprachspiele).(Wittgenstein 1998)

What seems particularly interesting in Sorgner’s consideration of the philosophical problems of transhumanism is his position on the so-called nihilistic perspective of this opinion and the so-called positive pessimism. Of course, he disclaims that all directions and tendencies in this interdisciplinary movement today are “nihilistic, pessimistic-positive”, but according to the statistical analysis, they are mostly “types of naturalism, atheism or secularism” (Sorgner 2022a, 11). Schopenhauer was the only one who took pessimism seriously, even asserting that art in its deep ontological truth is imbued with pain and suffering, and its sublimity becomes the last possibility of deliverance from the abyss of life’s disappointment and death’s agony. But, as we know, Nietzsche assigned to art the attributes of the most magnificent possible turning point in the effort to overcome the nihilism of Western metaphysics and therefore removed any pessimism from this doctrine of self-affirmation of life. Overall, Sorgner shows how obvious paradoxes and aporias occur with transhumanism at the level of “worldview”. The denial of God and complete naturalism in the development of assumptions about the possibility of man’s transition beyond biological limits at the same time may lead to a precisely nihilistic attitude about the historical-epochal dimensions of this transformation of life. Namely, although pessimism is mostly the negative attitude about the future of the human species and its prospects, the positive one comes from the trust in the power of the mind as “common sense” which is crystallized in what modern technology provides. In this way, namely, it is shown that the key point of the synthesis of mind and technology is that opinion which, although Sorgner does not carry it out in his analysis and although he does not have a mostly positive attitude towards Heidegger, tries to connect the very beginning and modernity starting from the metaphysical frameworks of thought in which cybernetics was born.

Heidegger, therefore, said the following about it in the most concise way:

“Therefore, the circular rule applies as a basic feature of the cybernetic world. The possibility of self-management, automation of the movement system rests on this. In the cybernetically represented world, the distinction between automatic machines and living beings disappears. It is neutralized in the undifferentiated event of information. (…) Humans are also drawn into this monotony of the cybernetic world. And even in a distinguished way. Because in the point of view of cybernetic representation, man has his place in the widest circle of rules. According to the modern idea of man, he is, namely, a subject who relates to the world as an environment of objects by processing them. Hence, all kinds of changes in the world come back to a man. The subject-object relationship is, cybernetically represented, a mutual relationship of information, and feedback loops in a distinguished circle of rules, all of which can be described under the title ‘man and the world’.” (Heidegger in Jaeger and Lüthe 1983, 16)

From what Heidegger said about the essence of cybernetics, which becomes in the technosphere a planetary-global space of virtualization and implosion of information, can we arrive at the possibility that what transhumanism has as its postulate, regardless of its differences in the so-called directions, open as an autopoiesis in which the possibility of preserving both “man’ and the world” remains beyond their almost inevitable reductions? This question seems decisive for the prospects of the coming philosophy. Any distinction between humans and non-humans presupposes that a third exists (tertium datur). This “Big Third” throughout the history of metaphysical thinking has always been thought of as God, Nature, causa sui, superego, sublime object X. But isn’t it astonishingthat even in Hegel’s science of logic, the third is nothing more than a subject-substance or a thing of thought that sets itself in motion? After all, isn’t freedom precisely that autopoietic event of thought that sets in motion every corporeality understood in one way or another, just as it sets in motion every soul-spirituality (psyché-logos) understood in one way or another? Isn’t freedom a condition for the possibility of absolute in one way or another?

3. Freedom beyond Absolute

Freedom as absolute? This is exactly the essence of posthumanism in a philosophical sense. Take the so-called destiny into one’s own hands, to change the necessity of historical events into the possibility of control over contingent events in the process of becoming (Werden, devenir) different from the Same. Almost all ardent theorists of post-and-transhumanism programmatically, manifestly and triumphantly, show that thanks to the progress and development of the mind in history, the time has come for humans to free themselves from the shackles of the historical tragedy of its Being. Mind, therefore, is identified with knowledge, which in the form of technoscientific construction of new beings fundamentally changes the found natural-biological order of relations, which was almost unchanging for metaphysics from Plato to Hegel. That this is so might be evidenced by the attitude of most representatives of technoscience, who talk about the fact that in laboratory conditions, thanks to synthetic biology, an artificial being such as the so-called oncomouse has been generated. All this points to the real possibility of introducing artificial life into the upcoming aspects of the complexity of nature and human habitation on Earth and beyond its natural-biological boundaries. Moreover, that event represents a turning point in the understanding of the difference between the human and the posthuman, and in the above example also in the difference between pre-human, human and post-human. History in a different, post-metaphysical sense starts from the logic of artificial intelligence and irreversibly refers to the cosmic-natural evolution of the animal-man-machine.

Freedom as the thought-life autonomy of human existence does not contradict this event of absolute techno-genesis. This was already clearly seen by Gilbert Simondon when he defined the essence of substance in a completely different way, which was traditionally Cartesianly explained by inertness in the expansion of matter, the res extensa. We have seen that the problem with the cybernetic paradigm is that it is the realization of metaphysics, on the one hand, and on the other, its transgression by introducing the principle of tertium datur. Matter can no longer be left to vulgar materialism in this new thinking, just as it cannot be idealized with some spiritualized model of vitalistic materialism. Matter, therefore, has not only an energy potential, without which there would be no complex network of interpenetrating bodies in motion, nor any freedom of movement of monads in a reestablished harmony à la Leibniz. To be able to think freely in the sense of causa sui, so that human thinking in the form of living-and-cybernetic physicality could reach the idea of absolute self-consciousness not only of man but also of a machine as a cyborgized “creature” with a soul-spirit, it is necessary to bring that connect the concept of information with the concept of autopoiesis. In this way, two necessary cybernetic reductions take place: the one that refers formally to the metaphysically understood res cogitans and the one that affects the res extensa. This necessary anti-substantialism Simondon tried to be carried out radically in his reflections on the relationship between man and machine. He claims the following:

“Information, on the one hand, is something infinitely variable and something that, if transmitted with minimal loss, allows energy to be effectively conserved so that it is in no way reduced to the rank of possibilities… But information, on the other hand, is something that, by transmitting go beyond the level of pure chance phenomena, such as white noise and heat stroke; therefore, information is something common, which has its own position, a certain sphere and a certain stereotype that distinguishes it from pure chance… This contrast represents a technical antinomy that seems to be a problem of philosophical thinking: information is like a random event, and yet it differs from it. An absolute stereotype, which excludes any novelty, therefore excludes any information. However, the difference between information and interference is based on the reduction of uncertainty limits.” (Simondon 1958/1969/1989, 234-236)

Neither the mind nor the body is separated by an abyss anymore. Therefore, information is neither a form nor a substance in the Aristotelian sense, but that which interferes, which creates new information and thus produces events as pure contingencies. When the mind in its absolute freedom thinks in the human form of self-consciousness about an object X, it is not mere contemplation and speculation about the Kantianthing-about-itself (Ding-an-sich) that affects our senses. Thinking cannot be just the indifferent observation of a being in nature in the sense of the mere objectivity of the object, on which the ideal of the Greek paradigm of knowledge about the world rested. Instead, already in the new Era, thinking becomes a pure construction of the object of cognition and hence the subject-substance way of producing new beings or objects in the world. But with the advent of the cybernetic paradigm, due to the concept of information and the possibilities of machine information processing, we are no longer dealing with something “in” the world and we are not thinking “about” something intra-worldly or supra-worldly. We, as a union of natural mind and artificial intelligence, produce objects X that exist only when changed substances and the appearance or formof these substances are joined by techno-scientific construction. This process in which the power of the technosphere reigns auto-poetically as a new absolute is therefore not nihilism without the meaning of history and the complete loss of the human-too-human. On the contrary, this process with the potential possibilities advocated by radical transhumanism such as cryonics and uploading techniques leads to the postulate of technological singularity as absolute freedom of a new way of thinking beyond metaphysics in general. It seems as if we are encountering something at the same time monstrously fascinating and almost uncanny (Unheimlich). Namely, we are used to defining freedom as something that is neither a Being nor a being but as a condition for the possibility of their relationship in common existence. Thus, for example, in Schelling’s definition of the difference between the essence of human freedom and human freedom itself, the question of freedom of will, Good and Evil, personality, etc. appears. However, this difference can only be thought of when it is taken into account that absolute causality in one essence allows all others only unconditional passivity.

“Through freedom a fundamentally unlimited power is asserted next to and outside of divine power, which is unthinkable according to these concepts. As the sun in the firmament extinguishes all the lights in the sky, even more so does infinite extinguish every finite power. Absolute causality in One Being leaves only unconditional passivity to all others. This entails the dependence of all beings in the world on God, and that even their continued existence is only an ever-renewed creation in which the finite being is produced not as an undefined generality but rather as this definite, individual being with such and such thoughts, strivings, actions and no others.” (Schelling 2006, 11-12)

If this position of Schelling’s is understood as one of the essential insights into what makes freedom the abyss of human existence and cannot be reduced to the definition of man by Aristotle as animal rationale, then we are faced with something even more monstrously than what Schelling himself could have anticipated when he spoke about free will, Good and Evil, personality, etc. Why? If, namely, for Simondon, the robot does not exist, but has a different way of being, then from the point of view of absolute metaphysics, we should see how the transmission of human freedom to the possibility of the freedom of the non-human in the posthuman condition arise. All beings in the world are a living unity of physical-mental-spiritual synthesis of the natural-biological and autopoietic in the sense of homeostasis. When, therefore, Simondon assumes in his defence of the cybernetically understood coexistence of animal-man-machine a kind of secularized idea of the Good beyond all pantheism and atheism, he is talking about the belief that progress and development in history are only possible from the pre-established harmony of the organic and the mechanical. But what if, for the understanding of the essence of the technosphere as absolute freedom of self-movement and self-management of life, it might be impossible to neutralize and suspend what is the negation of freedom of will, and rests on it ‒ namely, evil in its pure contingency? What, then, if freedom in its absolute construction of events is indifferent to good and evil, and shows itself only in the pragmatic form of one’s own self-consciousness that combines the living and the artificial in something that formally has the characteristics of evil and destructive tendencies against an evolutionarily lower stage of development in the form of animals and humans? The famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking warned about this near the end of his life, expressing his fear of uncontrolled progress and the development of artificial intelligence. Now we see that the philosophical problem with post-and-transhumanism becomes a problem that was posed precisely by Schelling with the speculative thinking of German idealism. This is the problem of freedom as an absolute that starts from unconditional causality and thus subjects everything else to unconditional passivity. The technosphere as an autopoietic system of absolute freedom of information production in tendency-latency represents also a system of information control and as such has the same logic of action as the “human freedom” of mental action. However, this is not the essence of freedom, because the information can not be longer reduced to the logic of organically understood causality and accordingly to teleology, i.e. the ultimate purpose of all events. Freedom is neither a Being nor a being, and its “essence” is not reduced to absolute causality, but the event of an onto-cybernetic network of pure contingencies. Evil is a first-class philosophical problem because it connects Being-God-world-and-man. However, evil is neither “in” nor “outside” of the world, but in the midst of it as a constellation of relationships that in some contexts and situation creates evil creatures and violence as a threat to the destruction of the world in general.

How then is it possible to overcome that which affects the fate of the world, which man cannot abolish and which was considered a tragic event by the Greeks since ancient times, precisely because a man had the freedom of will to autonomously choose his destiny, like, for example, King Oedipus who defiled his own mother and killed his father? It will be said, that he did it unconsciously, in ignorance of the causes and consequences that led to the tragic act and the realization of the truth. That’s exactly the problem. Unconsciousness and ignorance are excluded in the logic of the operation of autopoietic thinking systems. When information has an interfering influence on the interactors in communication, then this might be the way to create what Simondon calls a metastable equilibrium. What is the meaning of that attitude except that, paradoxically, the unstable in the form of new chaos now enables the system to balance, and this is only possible when entropy as the second law of thermodynamics regulates processes in the cybernetically-based relationship between man and the world. The result is that we do not rule the environment in the sense of absolute control over evil as an event capable of destroying not only the biosphere but also the technosphere as such. If it seems to someone that this could be a post-metaphysical “Big narrative” about the war of the worlds, then they might be truly right. The philosophical problem withthe emergence of the posthuman condition is not in any relationship between humans and non-humans, but in how freedom in its essence opens up in the realized world of the technosphere where the logic of absolute causality and teleology no longer rules. Instead, we encounter a metastable game of chance in which pure contingencies produce the coming that is never devoid of the possibility of being unpredictable and beyond the control of the human mind. Homo kybernetes denotes the last station on the way of human evolution and at the same time the end of metaphysics in cybernetics in general. It only means that for the first time in history, freedom has become a contingent necessity of thought, and not always an eternal fate that the gods or God assigned to man as a reward and punishment for his dignity as an irreducible being under the stars.


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Author Profile
Žarko Paić

Žarko Paić is a Professor at the University of Zagreb, where he teaches courses in Aesthetics and Media Theory. He publishes frequently in philosophy, social sciences, and art theory. His publications include Theorizing Images, eds. with Krešimir Purgar (2016), and Technosphere Vol. 1-5 (2018-2019), White Holes and the Visualization of the Body, (2019), Neoliberalism, Oligarchy and Politics of the Event – At the Ege of Chaos (2020), Aesthetics and the Iconoclasm of Contemporary Art - Pictures Without a World (2021).