The Emergence of the Posthuman Subject

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Ernst Junger and the Posthuman Suject: Technology as an ally of Nature

Ernst Jünger’s aesthetic views of Modern Technology and of its impact on the Natural and Human world are one of the most accurate and original, yet forgotten, thoughts of the past century. Jünger’s perspectives, mainly those found in this works: ‘Die Totale Mobilmachung’ (1930) and ‘Der Arbeiter, Herrschaft und Gestalt’ (1932) had a recognized influence on Heidegger’s critic of modern technology, shared some views with pre-war Italian futurism (concerning the alliance between man and machine) and have inspired several later science fiction authors. In this paper, I will try and demonstrate that Jünger’s views (both from the thirties and subsequent decades) offer an original and accurate perspective that can help us to reflect deeply on several Posthumanistic issues. In fact Jünger anticipated several Posthuman perspectives, mainly those concerning the blurring of distinctions between the human and the inhuman, the emergence of a new kind of “humanity” and a new understanding of the natural and animal world, as well as the need for a new relationship with technology.
Broadly speaking, Jünger inverted the Modern perspective that considers Technology to be an ally of the Humanistic project to rule over and master Nature. Jünger argues that, in the modern technological world, it is the very distinction between Human Culture and Nature that is being blurred. Strongly Influenced by Nietzsche, Jünger foresees a whole new world governed by new laws, and conceived of Modern Technology as the latest historical manifestation of the Nietzschian Eternal Will to Power. He considers Technology to be not a cultural artefact but a ‘Titan’, i.e., a natural force that is being brought to culture through human action. Jünger conceives of Technology as a ‘Trojan horse’ by which Nature, with its passionate energies of the Will to Power at work in all life, is invading Culture. Therefore, the instrumental and humanistic views of technology are totally wrong. This is a radical statement that will be scrutinized here. I will try and examine whether this view of Jünger is still a dualist perspective that conceives the Human world and the Animal and Natural world as appositive poles, or, on the contrary, it precludes something radical and new, perhaps a Posthumanism avant la lettre,
Period2 Jul 2010
Event typeConference
LocationSurrey, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational