Year of Publication

2015

Season of Publication

Spring

Paper Type

Master's Thesis

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Practical Philosophy and Applied Ethics (MA)

Department

Philosophy

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Philosophy

First Advisor

Dr. Erinn Gilson

Second Advisor

Dr. Bryan Bannon

Third Advisor

Dr. Hans-Herbert Koegler

Department Chair

Dr. Hans-Herbert Koegler

College Dean

Dr. Barbara Hetrick

Abstract

The inspiration behind this philosophical endeavor is an ethical one: interested in what it means to flourish as a human being – how to live well and authentically. Similar to medicine and how the ability to prescribe the appropriate treatment depends on first making a diagnosis, the focus of this work will to be understand the human condition and the ways in which subjectivity, one’s sense of self, is constituted. Given the general dissatisfaction with the modern metaphysical picture of the world, which analyzes the world in terms of the mutually exclusive and completely separate categories of nature/objects and society/subjects, I proceed from an alternative conceptual perspective, that of non-modernity, offered by Bruno Latour. By focusing on the actual practice of the sciences Latour develops one of his central concepts: mediation. From this understanding of the practices of mediation the world is revealed as an ontological continuum of hybrids – mixtures of human and nonhuman elements – that ranges from quasi-object to quasi-subject. Rather than being separate, nature and society are intimately interwoven and co-constituted, forming a nature-culture collective that is connected and defined by the network of relations between existing hybrids. Given this philosophical landscape of mediation, hybrids and networks, the question that I seek to address is how does this effect what it means to be human? What does it mean to human living in a hybrid world? I answer this question by articulating and developing Latour’s concept of quasi-subject. This will ultimately amount to saying that as humans, our sense of self and agency is co-constituted through our networks of relations with both humans and nonhumans. I conclude the paper by exploring some of the ethical implications that naturally emerge from such an understanding.