Mind-Crafting: Anticipatory Critique of Transhumanist Mind-Uploading in German High Modernist Novels
Bates, Nathan Jensen
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This dissertation explores the question of how German modernist novels anticipate and critique the transhumanist theory of mind-uploading in an attempt to avert binary thinking. German modernist novels simulate the mind and expose the indistinct limits of that simulation. Simulation is understood in this study as defined by Jean Baudrillard in Simulacra and Simulation. The novels discussed in this work include Thomas Mann’s Der Zauberberg; Hermann Broch’s Die Schlafwandler; Alfred Döblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz: Die Geschichte von Franz Biberkopf; and, in the conclusion, Irmgard Keun’s Das Kunstseidene Mädchen is offered as a field of future inquiry. These primary sources disclose at least three aspects of the mind that are resistant to discrete articulation; that is, the uploading or extraction of the mind into a foreign context. A fourth is proposed, but only provisionally, in the conclusion of this work. The aspects resistant to uploading are defined and discussed as situatedness, plurality, and adaptability to ambiguity. Each of these aspects relates to one of the three steps of mind-uploading summarized in Nick Bostrom’s treatment of the subject. In addition to transhumanism and simulation, other concepts or areas of inquiry include the posthuman; Heidegger’s fourfold; Benjamin’s definition of translation; free indirect speech; the narratology of Dorrit Cohn, Alan Palmer, and Alfred Döblin; and, to a lesser extent, the deconstruction of masculinity. It is ultimately argued that the location of fictional minds in the novel has a flattening effect, but it is this flattening effect which simultaneously discloses the mind’s resistance to two-dimensionality.
- German