New Modes of Ethical Selfhood: Geneticization and Genetically Responsible Subjectivity

  • Tamar Sharon
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 14)


In this final chapter, a mediated posthumanist perspective that incorporates each of the important aspects of various approaches that have been discussed – the non-humanist basis of radical and methodological posthumanism, the schizoanlaytic framework developed by Deleuze and Guattari, and the Foucauldian approach to ethical subject-constitution – is used in an examination of new genetic technologies.

First the “geneticization” thesis is discussed and critiqued within a schizoanlaytic reading. Here the paranoid tendency of genetic determinism and essentialism is always accompanied or contested by schizophrenic narratives of genomic complexity and a novel ontology of flatness. As with the example of ARTs and the category of nature, new categories of “life” and “selfhood” emerge, and we are once more confronted with the paradox of emerging biotechnologies: that biology is both given and given to control.

Secondly, we also encounter the emergence of a new mode of subjectivity – genetically responsible selfhood, which implies that individuals are increasingly defining themselves in terms of genetics but that this “geneticization” is not deterministic, since it is often seen as a resource that can be used to shape one’s life in accordance with personal hopes and values. It is argued that this mode of subjectivity is best understood in light of the notion of technological mediation and Foucault’s work on ethical subject constitution, or the understanding that subjects can actively relate to and help shape the mediations that constitute them as subjects. More than any other posthumanist approach, mediated posthumanism succeeds best in capturing this new mode of selfhood.


Geneticization Genetic responsibility Technologies of the self Technological mediation Ethics 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tamar Sharon
    • 1
  1. 1.PhilosophyMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands

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