Curtin University’s Centre for Culture and Technology would like to invite you to attend a seminar by visiting French philosopher Dominique Lestel on Wednesday 7th October, 2015, from 10:30am-12:00pm. Please RSVP by 2nd October to firstname.lastname@example.org
Part of Darwinism’s collateral damage is to make animality a matter of the past, and so to forget that it is also a problem of the future. To say that we were animals is an elegant way to rid us of our relationship to animality. It is no accident that, for example, transhumanists pay no interest in animals, thinking that humans could free themselves from all animal temptation in a more or less distant future. But it is much more fruitful to consider instead that animality has not yet said its last word, so to speak, and to explore the possibility that the human will ultimately be closer to the animal in the future than it has ever been in the past, from yet unprecedented forms of animality to novel procedures of animalisation – transpecies animals. Animality should then be thought of less as a phylogenetic heritage (that would have the value of waste in a fairy tale leading from animals to humans), than as a fertile soil that humans may fertilise so as to address more serenely the great challenges of the epoch – of machines with claims to autonomy, of environments more collaborative than interactive. Animality has become rhizomatic. It has vegetalised and liquefied. A space which aims to create a different animality, such as one can see emerging in the field of artificial life, seeks less to reproduce animality-as-it-is than to conceive an animality-as-it-could-be. The hybridisation of real animals and prostheses evolves again in another space. As also do genetically modified animals, or the coming crossbreedings between nanotechnology, biotechnology and technologies of information and cognition. In short, transpecies animality ejects animality from the space of zoology and introduces new rules in the evolutionary game. Within this constantly reorganising proliferation, three tendencies are of exemplary interest: that of a purely virtual transpecies animality; that of an artificial and communitary transpecies animality that develops in spaces shared with humans; and that of a transpecies animality resulting from a deconstruction of metabolisms.
Dominique Lestel is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. He was a founding member of the Department of Cognitive Science, before joining the Department of Philosophy in 2012. After studying philosophy at the Sorbonne, he received his doctorate at the EHESS in 1986. He was a researcher at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the Bull company from 1984 to 1986. He directed the cognitive ethology team of the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle in Paris between 2006 and 2012. He has been a visiting scholar at Boston University; MIT; the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Tokyo University of Foreign Languages; Keio University; University of California, San Diego; Macquarie University; and at the University of Montreal.
He has published many essays in both French and English and a number of books in French: Paroles de singes (1995), L’Animalité (1996), Les Origines animales de la culture (2001, 2003), L’Animal singulier (2004), Les Amis de mes amis (2007), L’Animal est l’avenir de l’homme (2010) and Apologie du carnivore (2011). English translations are forthcoming with Columbia University Press of Eat this Book and The Friends of My Friends. A recent issue of Angelaki (19:3, 2014), edited by Matthew Chrulew, Jeffrey Bussolini and Brett Buchanan, was dedicated to his work. His latest book, À quoi sert un humain?, is forthcoming from Fayard in October.