Landing : Athabascau University

Philosophy of Technology: A feminist Approach

I was just reading an article that quotes the work of Haraway:


Haraway, D. (1991). ‘A cyborg manifesto: Science, technology, and socialist-feminism in the late twentieth century,’ in Simians, Cyborgs and women: The reinvention of nature. New York, Routledge, pp. 149-181. Also available at: .

I was particularly struck by some of Haraway's ideas--especially this paragraph:

"Cyborg replication is uncoupled from organic reproduction" (p. 150); "The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family" (p. 151). It does not aspire to "organic wholeness" and "is not afraid of joint kinship with animals and machines . . . of permanently partial identities and contradictory standpoints" (p. 154)."

By this standard, I asked myself: Is it possible to create an online community? The term community is very much an organic, family-based concept, no? If this is the case, our online relationships (if I may use that term) are reduced to what? Simple interactions of objects with objects? Where is the human subject in all of this? I guess that's her critique of technology: we are reduced to non- or semi-human objects.



  • Call me misanthrope, but that might not be all negative. We are very bad primates, and what we call human nature doesn't seem to be getting any better--we can't stop destroying ourselves and the places we inhabit for short-term gratification and ego fulfillment. Looking at Second Life, for example, I don't see our cyborg selves as much of an improvement, but one can hope. Maybe at some point we will be elevated to non- or semi-human objects that behave better on the whole.

    Mary Pringle May 25, 2010 - 9:42am

  • Harway's feminist theory of cyborgs is widely understood as empowering--just maybe not on any traditional humanist model. Haraway questions the conceptual polarities that define hegemonic formations of identity and structure their power relations (e.g. man/woman, culture/nature) to formulate a feminist politics of identity that is existential (contingent and constructed) rather than essential (natural, predestined), and that adapts technology critically and ambivalently to effect social change. See Rosi Braidotti's useful gloss of Harway, for instance; and/or these links to more about Haraway's theory.

    Mark A. McCutcheon May 25, 2010 - 9:58am

  • (In other words, I agree with Mary: Haraway's ideas are not all negative, and cyborg subjectivity has several positive "post-human" aspects.)

    Mark A. McCutcheon May 25, 2010 - 10:00am

  • Oops, here's the link to Braidotti's gloss. (The other links to a long essay--and the Landing isn't letting me delete comments right now; sorry fot the clutter!)

    Mark A. McCutcheon May 25, 2010 - 10:03am

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