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Past Fictions for the Posthuman Future: the Value of Literature for Consciousness Research

IMC Tuesday Seminar: Talk by Mette Leonard Høeg, Hosted Research Fellow, The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford

Info about event


Tuesday 21 March 2023,  at 11:00 - 12:30


Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, 8000 Aarhus C, building 1483, room 312 and online (https://aarhusuniversity.zoom.us/my/imcevent)

Mette Leonard Høeg

In this presentation, I argue for the value of integrating literary studies in consciousness research and ethics to develop a strong ethical and existential dimension in the field. More specifically, I consider the potential of fictional narrative for developing concepts of selfhood and personal identity that cohere with the reductionist explanations of human consciousness and self in modern empirical consciousness research and are sustainable in a posthuman future. My central claim is that looking to the literary representations of human consciousness and existence that reject or are free from conventional essentialist ideas of self, agency and anthropocentrism can help 'normalise' the reductionist scientific descriptions of humans and reduce their psychologically and socio-culturally disruptive impact. I use Virginia Woolf’s The Waves as an example and show how the novel’s non-anthropocentric and nonessentialist conceptions of self and consciousness overlap with materialist theories in neuroscience and -philosophy, but present these in a distinctive narrative framework and poetic terms that bring out the inherent emancipatory potential of the materialist explanation of human existence and offer the reader the possibility of relating to these experientially and emotionally.

About the speaker
Mette Leonard Høeg
Hosted Research Fellow
The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
University of Oxford

Free of charge - All are welcome to attend