Torgeir Fjeld (Bio) and Gorica Orsholits (Bio)

Beyond Dualism: Homo Generator, antagonism, agonism

From Plato’s famous dualism of body and soul we are today confronted with a plethora of perspectives promising to overcome historical dichotomies, and putting in their place a promise of social unity and reconciliation. This paper takes a critical stance to the technological utopianism and it’s dystopian twin, so prevalent in today’s discussion on media and technology. What we suggest to bring to the table is a renewed attention to Wolfgang Schirmacher’s concept of Homo Generator, founded on a distinction between an instrumental, craft-oriented definition of technology, underpinning the dominant mode of conemporary approaches to technology, and what he calls life technologies. Nevertheless, what typifies his notion of life technologies to the greatest extent is this concept’s ability to overcome the sort of dualist thought characteristic of 19th century European modernism. In Schirmacher’s Homo Generator, the artist of life technologies, what we have is a vigorous, compelling attempt to ground a novel notion of a post-utopian order. Conversely, in Alain Badiou and Chantal Mouffe’s call for the return of the political there is an emphasis on the importance of antagonism/agonism which must not and cannot be eradicated or suppressed by any society [/social order]. The second aim of this paper is therefore to question whether Badiou’s call for political antagonism is in fact a call to overcome the historical principle of dualism. How does Badiou’s post-utopian subject employ the idea of antagonism in the in-between space of the virtual–real and the symbolic–actual? Chantal Mouffe posits that social antagonism transforms into agonism and that societal conflict is accepted as an inevitable constituent of society. However, is Mouffe’s agonistic model of public space an attempt to go beyond the dualistic configurations of the past century? And can the notions of antagonism/agonism give to technology the ontological importance necessary for the creation of a new world?