Donna Haraway attempts to construct a basis for collective consciousness by mapping vibrant parallels between the structure of current economic and technological practices and human actors' fictional capability to comprehend and interact with a changing ideological structure. Elements of her argument can be traced to her role as a theorist working in the established traditions of feminism and socialism. I believe it is her commitment to an ongoing dialogue with other feminists that provides the impetus for her denunciation of a future entrenched in the teleology of traditional Western myths. Her critique of arguments which depend on the image of the female as part of a splintered and idealized other which awaits ultimate reunification leads her to name the cyborg as a potent conceptual bastard of white humanism.
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Donna Haraway attempts to construct a basis for collective consciousness by mapping vibrant parallels between the structure of current economic and technological practices and human actors' fictional capability to comprehend and interact with a changing ideological structure.
Elements of her argument can be traced to her role as a theorist working in the established traditions of feminism and socialism. I believe it is her commitment to an ongoing dialogue with other feminists that provides the impetus for her denunciation of a future entrenched in the teleology of traditional Western myths. Her critique of arguments which depend on the image of the female as part of a splintered and idealized other which awaits ultimate reunification leads her to name the cyborg as a potent conceptual bastard of white humanism.
The cyborg is central, both to her own thesis and to those attempting to schematize her argument. The cyborg, as she defines it, is a germane metaphor for the implicit assumptions which guide her mission. The cyborg is both a product of social reality and of fictionalized encryption.
The cyborg presents a being of agency which has the potential to coherently assemble political confrontations outside of the myths of the original Garden, where woman is seen as a body with an organic and intuitive grasp of Nature.
It does so as a synthesized creature whose very presence casts traditional dichotomies into doubt. Three central pairs which the cyborg directly confronts are the distinctions between human and animal, man and machine, and the physical and non- physical. At this point, I would like to comment on how Haraway is attempting simultaneously to describe and inscribe the condition of contemporary technology. He sees symmetry and mutual affectation, but not a literal consummation.
In this sense, the cyborg of Haraway is an intensely sexual creature which can create its own conditions for existence. This simply implies that for several centuries humans have had a world view which didn't necessarily delineate sharp contrasts between man and animal. I say this to point to an implicit maneuver by Haraway. By her act of interpreting current and historically recognizable social structures though the construct of a cyborg, she is attempting to create a directed and engaged consciousness.
She prioritizes the myth of economic theory her homework economy analysis by organizing the possible dissolution of dichotomies as a subsidiary achievement of contemporary technological forces. The cyborg is the fundamental unit for an origin myth, which as Haraway insists, is imbued with the atemporality of a utopia beyond the linear and fractionalized totality of Aristotelian teleology. The cyborg is not a search for a new fragmentation, or of creating a new dichotomy, but a biological process that has all the indifference of evolutionary development within a complicated and dynamic system.
As Ghost in the Shell implies, life itself arises from complexity. The importance of myth to Haraway incorporates both her belief in the cyborg as a fictional element that asserts the capacity to define consciousness and its relationship with the development of social conditions which expose the weaknesses and accessibility of previous ideologies.
This social phenomenon, the homework economy, in which the work force is becoming increasingly feminized and destabilized, is a potential basis for collaboration. Identity has both literally and creatively become "contradictory, partial, and strategic.
As she emphasizes the structural role of design informed by her biology background over the strangulating totality of an organic unit, the necessary and causal correlation between social reality and the formalization of an affiliated community is not assured. She believes in a certain reality, but is more interested in the process of shaping and directing that reality, of creating a polyphony from a cacophony.
It is not enough that disparate conditions that destabilize traditional notions of self and other exist. The creation of a community of affinity demand that the "logic of repression" be exposed as myth. It is this sense of directed creativity which I believe justifies her denouncement of merely "naming" objects and her subsequent elevation of the literal tradition.
By allowing women to reorient themselves with literary acts, she is recognizing the productive power of myth in shaping consciousness. She does not elaborate what the fundamental basis for the ambiguity of writing is, or how it is necessarily less totalizing and organic than naming.
One may infer that the dissolution between categories of humans and encoded languages, such as machines, is an apt enough description of the melding of narrative and reality. Science fiction, then, has the role of being an appropriate mythic response to current international developments. To create a sense of community without boxing in an absolute identity requires the fictional potential of the cyborg.
Here was a counterculture whose language and sensibility the tech industry sometimes adopts, but whose practitioners it has mostly priced out. Haraway, who came to the University of Santa Cruz in to take up the first tenured professorship in feminist theory in the US, still conveys the sense of a wide-open world. Haraway was part of an influential cohort of feminist scholars who trained as scientists before turning to the philosophy of science in order to investigate how beliefs about gender shaped the production of knowledge about nature. Her most famous text remains The Cyborg Manifesto, published in It began with an assignment on feminist strategy for the Socialist Review after the election of Ronald Reagan and grew into an oracular meditation on how cybernetics and digitization had changed what it meant to be male or female — or, really, any kind of person. The cyborg vision of gender as changing and changeable was radically new.
Haraway's Cyborg Manifesto
In it, the concept of the cyborg is a rejection of rigid boundaries, notably those separating "human" from "animal" and "human" from "machine". She writes: "The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust. The "Manifesto" criticizes traditional notions of feminism, particularly feminist focuses on identity politics , and encourages instead coalition through affinity. She uses the figure of the cyborg to urge feminists to move beyond the limitations of traditional gender, feminism, and politics; the "Manifesto" is considered one of the milestones in the development of feminist posthumanist theory. Haraway begins the "Manifesto" by explaining three boundary breakdowns since the 20th century that have allowed for her hybrid, cyborg myth: the breakdown of boundaries between human and animal, animal-human and machine, and physical and non-physical. Evolution has blurred the lines between human and animal; 20th century machines have made ambiguous the lines between natural and artificial; and microelectronics and the political invisibility of cyborgs have confused the lines of physicality.
A Cyborg Manifesto