Zombies, cyborgs, androïdes, symbiotes, clones… These strange creatures have invaded our world. Our fictions, in any case. But what do they have in common? All these beings are “Almost human”, answers the philosopher Thierry hiccup : a little less, a little more, a little different, a little beyond or below human. Because they resemble us while introducing a disturbing difference, these characters question the floating contours of our humanity. And provoke in us a mixture of fascination and repulsion. Hiccup’s work (Almost Humans, Threshold, 2021) proposes a fascinating journey through our contemporary imagination and the figures that haunt it.
The Almost Humans. Mutants, cyborgs, robots, zombies … and us, by Thierry Hoquet, was published by Editions du Seuil, coll. The Philosophical Order. 392 p., € 24.50, Available here.
Interview with Thierry Hoquet
On the same subject
Thierry Hoquet: “Our humanity is based on the way we understand difference”
From the zombies of the Walking Dead to the artificial intelligence gone mad from 2001, the Space Odyssey through the “Hubots” of the Real Humans series, “almost human” characters haunt our imaginations. What do they say about us? Answer with Thierry Hoquet, who devotes his latest book to them (Les Presque-Humains. Mutants, cyborgs, robots, zombies … et nous, Seuil, 2021).
The unconscious denotes negatively what is opposed to consciousness, what is devoid of it (such as the state of sleep) and positively the psychic apparatus described by psychoanalysis, and which would be the cause of most of our behavior. The whole tradition of the “I” transparent to itself, conscious, master of its actions, would then be called into question. The unconscious poses two problems: that of its possible knowledge (knowing the unconscious, isn’t it deforming it to make it conscious?) And that of its power (if the unconscious determines my actions, freedom does not is not it a fiction?). The adversaries of psychoanalysis criticize it as pseudoscience and as fatalism. The discovery of the unconscious nevertheless made it possible to rehabilitate the body and desire in the exercise of intelligence, and provided a key to new interpretation of cultural phenomena such as art or religion.
Not so natural selection
After the publication of “The Origin of Species”, Darwin for a long time avoided tackling the human question… in order to return to it better in “De la filiation de l’homme”, not without giving rise to some misunderstandings that Thierry Hoquet dispels for us.
Thierry Lévy, Marc Angenot. Controversy over rhetoric
[Actualisation : l’avocat pénaliste Thierry Lévy est mort d’un cancer le 30 janvier 2017, à 72 ans] Criminal lawyer Thierry Lévy and philosopher Marc Angenot compare their points of view on rhetoric. This art of persuading through speech is a virtue for one, a dead end for the other. Who will have the last word ?
Chirico and Breton. A metaphysical dimension
For Breton, the art of Chirico prefigures surrealism by its dreamlike strangeness and its mysterious symbols referring to the unconscious. However, the painter’s quest owes more to Nietzsche than to a fascination with the occult.
Transhumanism: should we be afraid of the future?
For science philosopher Jean-Michel Besnier, the success of the “Real Humans” series reveals the importance of concerns related to metaphysical, ethical and social challenges posed by the development of science.
The coronation of simulacres
The virtual has triumphed. Our world is that of simulacra, these contents which have the appearance of reality. Images produced by digital processes, filmed by electronic cameras, calculated by software and digitized by scanners, reign everywhere.
Dogecoin, the reign of the sham?
Created as a joke, a dog-headed cryptocurrency ranks among the most popular and lucrative, after Elon Musk touted it. With Dogecoin, would we have entered the era of the simulacrum, prophesied by Jean Baudrillard?