Descartes and Biotechnology

Mike Field
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This paper will discuss how biotechnology challenges Descartes's mind-body duality. It will begin by showing how mind-altering pharmaceuticals establish a firm relationship between the mind and the body even though the Cartesian philosophy stresses that they are separate. Next, the presentation will show that mechanical implants into the body (such as artificial hearts, joints, etc.) force us to redefine what the mind and the body are. When an intelligent computer system is attached to the human body, it becomes unclear where the body stops and the artificial mind begins. In light of this, the paper will examine how artificially intelligent computer systems establish a new model for the mind-body duality, and when they are combined with humans, how one may or may not tell the difference between the two. In each case, this paper will draw on specific examples of contemporary digital art and literature as the basis for discussion.

Keywords: Biotechnology, Descartes, Philosophy, Mind, Body, Pharmaceuticals, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Art, Literature
Stream: Human Technologies and Useability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Descartes and Biotechnology

Mike Field

University of Toronto

Ref: T05P0043