Type / Thesis

Sex, Prosthesis and the Ethical Subject: The Posthuman Perspective on the Imagined Sex-less World and Its Vision

Nai-nu Yang

Page / 93-120


In science fiction, there are several types of imagination regarding the alternative worlds made by artificial reproduction, one of which is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In this work, Huxley imagined an authoritarian and universalized society. The most distinctive feature in this alternative society is the abolition of the marriage system on account of the fact that marriage is regarded as the major source of disturbing the stability of society. The reproductive function of sex is unhooked from sexual intercourses. Opposing monogamy and the family institution, the alternative society reshapes the concept of sex as an act of enjoying the sexual intercourse itself whereas the reproductive function of sex is replaced by advanced biotechnology. As a result, infants could be reproduced by standardized operation procedures without parents. The imagination of artificial reproduction arouses the fear that human beings’ interference in “nature” would have an unpredictable impact on current social relationships and standards of morality which rely on blood relationships. Nevertheless, the fear demonstrates that “sex” is no more a human instinct than a technique of socialization in human society. Undoubtedly, advanced technology will change (or is changing) the current social relationships and ethical standards. The question that what sex is will be explored from the perspective of the posthuman in the paper. Bernard Stiegler’s formulation of the concept of the prosthesis, a reinterpretation of André Leroi-Gourhan’s Gesture and Speech, relates what “human” is to technics. The prosthesis, according to Stiegler, refers to the process of the exteriorization of the human body. In this paper, it will be argued that sex is a prosthesis. While the exteriorization of sex turns into the means of social regulations, it reflexively undergoes the process of interiorization; that is, it is also transformed into consciousness. From the perspective of psychoanalysis, the incest taboo is counted as the measurement of human actions while it also enacts the emergence of the subject. Sigmund Freud’s concept of the incest taboo and Jacques Lacan’s reinterpretation of it will be examined to explore how sex as a prosthesis enacts the emergence of the ethical subject.

Keywords : sex, artificial reproduction, prosthesis, the ethical subject, the posthuman
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