Cyborg Manifesto Donna J. Haraway Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1644 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

Cyborg Manifesto": Goodbye Gaia

Haraway defines a cyborg as a hybrid between a living organism and a machine. Although these creatures are a product of science fiction, Haraway claims they are indeed real within us in today's society. Haraway ends with the proclamation that she would rather be a cyborg than a woman in today's society. The following will reflect on Haraway's arguments.

One of the key differences between an organic creature and a machine is their source of power and how they come into existence. The only source of power for an organic is other organics. Biological beings cannot live with only machines in their lives. They must have other organics for sustenance. Organics cannot sustain themselves on machines or machine energy. In order to come into existence, an organic being must couple with another organic creature. They cannot be constructed, or fabricated...at least not yet. The key is that organics depend on other organics for life and to sustain life. We cannot exist without other creatures to feed us and help us to create new members of the species. For many years, feminism focused on retaining this connection with our organic nature.

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Machines, on the other hand, are the product of organic creatures. Like organics, machines depend on organisms for their existence and sustenance. It may appear that some machines can exist without humans, but this is only an illusion. There are many other such examples in our world. Medicine is a prime example used by Haraway where organisms and machine combine for a purpose. Western society thrives through the interaction of man and machine. As Haraway points out, this relationship is what defines our society and our politics.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Cyborg Manifesto Donna J. Haraway Assignment

Machines, such as the Hoover Dam may continue to operate for quite some time after humans cease to exist. This feat of engineering magic runs almost entirely by computer, with little human input, except for monitoring and repairs. If humans were suddenly destroyed, the Hoover Dam would continue to produce power as long as the river continued to flow. The Hoover Dam is a perfect example of a cyborg, where machine and river combine to produce a product. It would appear as if they do this independent of human interaction.

This is true, at least for a while. However, eventually, concrete cracks and breaks down. Circuits wear out. Without humans to produce more circuits to replace worn out ones, or to repair concrete structures, the Hoover Dam would cease to function without the input of an organic. This type of human-machine partnership is what Haraway sees as the cyborg in a social and political sense. We are all part of the machine and the machine is part of us, whether we like it or not.

Cyborg or Machine

Haraway sets forth to define certain characteristics of the cyborg that set it apart from organisms. For instance, the cyborg does not dream of community based on the model of an organic family (Haraway, p. 151). Haraway claims that cyborgs are he progeny of militarism and capitalism (Haraway, p. 151). Unlike cyborgs, humans need human contact. They need communities. They need to procreate and be near others like them. Organic culture depends on the existence of a gendered culture. Machines do not need these types of relationships to exist.

Haraway calls cyborgs "post-gender" (P. 151).

Modern society produces isolation and destroys community. Humans constantly put up walls to isolate themselves from the world. This robs humanity of its individuality and need for other human beings. When humanity is robbed of its community, we become more like cyborgs and more like a part of the machine. Underlying Haraway's definition of cyborg and her supposition that modern humans are becoming more cyborg-like in their features is the implication that the differences between human and cyborg lie along a scale.

Reading Haraway's argument gives the reader a sense that on one end of the scale is the human and at the other end is the cyborg. Humans that are close to nature and that have a close connection with biologic creation would represent the most human of humanity. Those that are committed to the machine and that view nature as something to be exploited to produce a product would be considered more cyborg-like. This also suggests that there are many degrees between humanity and the cyborg. Haraway suggests that humanity as a whole is gravitating towards the cyborg end of the scale and that we are losing our connection to nature and our own human origins. She feels that the "earth mother/Gaia" image is a dinosaur and that women need to embrace, rather than push away the cyborg.

Haraway suggests that as humans become more cyborg-like, our machines are also becoming disturbingly human (p. 152). Many of the characteristics that used to apply only to organisms now apply to machines. After reading Haraway, one begins to notice the human-like machines that we encounter on a daily basis. When reading Haraway's example in the communication field (p. 164), the following example came to mind.

When one calls a large corporation such as a bank, they used to be greeted with a friendly human voice to direct their call. Now, they are greeted by a monotone human voice generated by a computer who attempts to determine the nature of the caller's problem and route them to the proper node of the system. Many times, they are once again routed to yet another machine who responds to their needs. This example demonstrates how we have become accustomed to interacting with a machine, just as if it were a human. We express our needs and the machine responds.

However, Haraway also reminds us that even though machines may appear to be human-like, they are still inert and cannot replace a living being. Everyone can relate to the frustration when the computer receptionist at the other end cannot provide the answers for a query that does not fit neatly into the predetermined problem category. Sometimes the caller goes around in circles trying to speak to a human. This is the type of breakdown in the system that causes stress (p. 164). The machine is not capable of the malleable response needed for the caller's concerns.

Through pointing out the differences and similarities between humanity and cyborgs, Haraway makes a compelling argument that we are much more like cyborgs in modern society than many would like to admit. We easily and readily interface with machines on a daily basis. Machines fulfill our needs in many cases and at times can appear to be autonomous and human-like. However, they cannot fulfill our every need and they need us for their very existence. Haraway's arguments are largely based on this symbiotic relationship.

Goodbye Gaia

After presenting a convincing argument that humans are becoming more cyborg-like, Haraway explores modernist feminism. She makes the claim that she would rather be a cyborg than a woman (Goddess). This is an interesting statement considering that earlier in the essay, she stated that cyborgs are not trustworthy. She then states that this may not be a bad thing. Haraway claims that cyborgs are the illegitimate children of militarism, patriarchal capitalism, and state socialism. As such, illegitimate children are often not faithful to their origins. This would make them more malleable and able to make needed adaptations more easily than their "organic" cousins. Those that are the product of organics, often retain close ties with their parents, even if the relationship is destructive. Children will support their parents, even though the relationship may not allow them to be productive. Children are trustworthy and faithful to their progenitors, regardless of the productivity of their actions. The cyborg may not be trustworthy, but they will not allow faithfulness to stand in the way of their progress. This is the point… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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