Hephaestus Reloaded: Composed for 10 Hands – Efesto Reloaded: Composizione per 10 mani

This bilingual (English/Italian) publication, whose five authors are from Greece, Italy, and the US, invokes as its first inspiration the myth of Hephaestus who embodied a twofold entity: both handicapped and technically capable. The myth of Hephaestus has been passed across the centuries as an ancient metaphor signifying the idea of becoming-world, in which any distinction between the natural and the artificial, or the organic and the technical is blurred. Human beings, by virtue of their very weakness or limits, have enhanced their technological powers to the point of transcending their own given nature. At present, a variety of critical discourses in disciplines such as philosophy, history, aesthetics, and cognitive sciences pay attention to our becoming hybrids (organic and mechanical beings) – unleashing a space for research that probes the concept of transcendence. Each of the contributions in this book addresses – through its peculiar perspective, method and experimental style – a new way to approach the role of transcendence.

In the occidental history of ideas, the notion of transcendence has received at least three canonical articulations that are challenged by this book. The religious one (Judeo-Christian traditions); the philosophical one (Platonic-intellectual universality of ideas); and the scientific one (the objective and technological turn of knowledge). Nonetheless, it is with the rise of cybernetics, with its digital and virtual modalities of systems, networks, and knowledge, that our human environment emerges as a source of knowledge in itself. Not simply as an object but rather as an agent molded and molding thinking and behavior. It is through this “immersive” view of nature, knowledge, and technique, that the notion of transcendence is approached as mutually transitive to changes.

The transcendence of the actual and the virtual into a “third” element is to be construed and analyzed through conceptual schemes that rely on a post-binary or non-binary understanding of coincidences, triangulations, hybrids, or post-human combinatorics. What is explored here is how transcendence is ejected from the strictly theological, philosophical, or scientific grounding and emerges as a germinating point of becoming (something else).

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