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Would Plato’s Cyborg be male?

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I do this philosophy course at the university of Utrecht. Fascinating (and not in Spock’s connotation). The professors make us compare texts and write no more than approximately three hundred words about it. That is a challenge. Have a look of what I cooked up from the texts of

  1. Benjamin Jowett’s translation of Plato’s Phaedrus[1]
  2. Jos de Mul’s chapter 1, part four of Filosofie in Cyberspace[2] (in Dutch) and
  3. Donna Harraway’s Cyborg Manifesto[3].

Is there any coomunality in the texts and if so, what is it. If not what is the common difference? Etc. So, after a couple of work-through-the-nights, I came up with my common denominator: would Plato’s Cyborg be male? Make up your own mind!


Would or could Plato ever have wanted to ideate the Cyborg; as Haraway says: a hybrid creature, a cybernetic organism, a creation of both social reality and fiction; half apparatus, half human and socio-technological imaginary of the rhetorical strategy of (socialist) feminism?

Can Cyborg be grasped in a rhetorical concept; one of Plato’s five Rhetorics, as he teaches us in his Phaedrus (as the Phaedrus is about rhetorics in essence): 1- the false rhetoric, 2- love or inspiration of beauty, described as madness, 3- dialectics, the art of composition and division, 4- true rhetoric based on dialectics and the art of seduction rooted in truth and knowledge of character, and 5- superiority of the spoken over the written word? Haraway’s Cyborg Manifesto reads is a rhetorical roller coaster of techno-feminist discourse, a deterministic discursive construct with social consequences and implications through technology (De Mul p.33).

In his introduction of the Phaedrus, Jowett quotes Socrates who says that true rhetorics is like medicine, and the rhetorician has to consider the natures of men’s soul as the physician considers the natures of their bodies. Such and such persons are to be affected in this way, such and such others in that; and he must know the times and seasons for saying this or that. This is not an easy task, and this, if there be such an art, is the art of rhetoric.

Then what is truth? Is it embodied in our current days in which technology is an object to think with, in the rhetoric of technologized man and in which De Mul comprises presumptions about technology and society to a golden main path of technological interactionism; a bit of technological determinism and a bit of social constructionism? Considering that technological interactionism holds the middle in the polarity of determinism and constructionism and is therefor genderless, Plato’s Cyborg will never be female and Haraway’s Cyborg never male.


Written by Kees Winkel

April 29, 2012 at 15:08

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