On the differences between the cyborg and the posthuman

It is an over simplification to consider the cyborg as a fantastical techno-creature from our most outlandish fiction. For me personally the cyborg represents an enhancement to basic human function through the use of some prosthesis. And while many of today’s medical prosthesis are remarkable in their sophistication, they can rarely be said to improve human performance (one notable exception being the artificial legs of Olympic hopeful Oscar Pistorius)

Instead the contemporary cyborg is usually an attempt at repairing a damaged human, rather than an enhancement. Fictional cyborgs, and most likely real cyborgs in the very near future, are much more than this. Such cyborgs are truly more than human and achieve this status with the addition of prosthesis that give them abilities mere organic humans could never manage. These cyborgs are most definitely posthuman, but posthumans need not be cyborgs. I’ve argued (Sumamry: Week 8) that we are all in fact already posthuman, and that we have always been so since the invention of tools and social groups that modified our thought processes enough to make us more than individual entities. For me, the posthuman is a combination of the organic human and a set of external factors, tools or stimuli which endow us with powers and abilities we could never achieve in isolation. Certainly there is a closer coupling between the cyborg and its parts, but the posthuman is unbounded and free to match the appropriate tool to the task.