Dr Liza Das
Associate Professor
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati
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Definition
“The domain of Cultural Studies covers the social
processes involved in the production, transmission
and reception of symbolic or cultural forms.”
The Polity Reader In Cultural Theory
Cultural Studies, inasmuch as it focuses on symbolic
forms and signifying practices, is distinguished from
what is called the study of culture.
“Why is Agatha Christie not studied in English
departments when most people read Christie rather
than Thomas Hardy?”
“Who decides that Shakespeare can / must be read but
not Christie?”
Pramod K. Nayar, An Introduction to Cultural Studies
 The Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (est. 1964)
The University of Birmingham
Richard Hoggart
Stuart Hall
• Cultural Studies has a commitment to an ethical evaluation
of modern society and to a radical line of political action.
•
It has the objective of understanding culture in all its
complex forms and of analysing the social and political
contexts in which culture manifests itself.
Culture
Have you ever asked yourselves: Why do we live the kind of
life that we live?
In Cultural Studies this question is framed as
“How are we produced as subjects?”
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What is culture?
Why should we investigate culture?
Can it be studied systematically?
If yes, what are the tools with which we may approach such
a vast subject?
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 Here we study the life that we live -- and the reasons
thereof -- through a variety of lenses, and all the
various lenses may not agree with each other.
 Such is the difficulty of studying the lives that we live,
our beliefs, our choices and our loves and our
despairs.
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Stuart Hall
 By culture I mean the actual grounded terrain of
practices, representations, languages and customs of
any specific society.
 I also mean the contradictory forms of common sense
which have taken root in and helped to shape popular
life
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Culture
That complex whole which includes knowledge,
belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other
capabilities and habits acquired by man as a
member of society.
E. Tylor, Primitive Culture, 1871
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 Culture is the webs of significance* spun by man
that he is suspended in.
C. Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, 1973
* or of meaning and value
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In how many different ways can you study yourself as a cultural
being?
Interdisciplinary scope:
Philosophy: How do we understand reality? Kant: Noumenon
and phenomenon. How do we attribute meaning to our
existence through our value and belief systems?
Language: How does language construct our perception of
reality?
Economics: How does wealth and distribution determine our
lives?
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Sociology: Why do we have the social systems and arrangements that we
do?
Psychology: Why do we think in certain ways? What does it mean to be a
cognitive agent?
Science and Technology: How does technology affect our way of life?
Literature, media: Why are the media and literature so powerful as cultural
products?
History: How has culture evolved and change thorough different times?
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Areas:
1. Science: Human Evolution and the
beginnings of culture
2. Psychology: Theory of Memetics
3. Political Economy: Marxism
4. Modernism and Postmodernism
5. Technology: Posthuman culture
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Key concepts and guiding statements of the course:
1. Culture is not a given. It is constructed and hence can
be studied systematically.
2. Culture is not absolute or static but changing and
dynamic.
3. There are reasons and forces (eg. political economy)
behind cultural changes.
4. Power is the chief arbiter of the kind of lives we lead.
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Theory: considerations
How do we theorise culture?
Theory is an intellectual activity in which people interpret, critique and
draw generalisations about how and why the social world spins the
economic, cultural, political and institutional webs.
Theory has the ability to make sense of all levels of our everyday lives.
Cultural practices are always underlined by theoretical assumptions and
perspectives. The theory constructed is not merely a system but an
instrument for change.
Practice: Not theory vs practice; theory as practice.
Epistemology: Theory of knowledge, its origins, sources, assumptions
and limits.
How do we have knowledge and what are its means? Problematisation
of knowledge
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THEORY
•
A general idea that explains a large set of factual patterns.
• A comprehensive explanation of a given set of data that has been
repeatedly confirmed by observation and experimentation and
has gained general acceptance within the academic community.
• A statement or set of statements used to explain a phenomenon. A
theory is generally accepted as valid due to having survived repeated
testing.
• A scientific theory is an established and experimentally verified fact or
collection of facts about the world. Unlike the everyday use of the word
theory, it is not an unproved idea, or just some theoretical speculation.
The latter meaning of a 'theory' in science is called a hypothesis.
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•Several related propositions that explain some domain of
inquiry. Also called a school or paradigm.
•A statement or set of statements designed to explain a
phenomenon or class of phenomena. For example, Social
Learning Theory describes how human behavior is a
product of environmental, social and personal factors.
•An organized set of ideas that serves as a framework for
interpreting facts and findings and a guide for research.
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Theory and Practice
 Cultural Studies is a body of theory generated by
thinkers who regard the production of theoretical
knowledge as a political practice.
 Knowledge is never a neutral or objective phenomenon
but a matter of positionality, of the place from which
one speaks, to whom, and for what purposes.
 E.g., an anti-casteism theorist builds her discourse with a view to
bringing about change in caste consciousness and actual caste
practices.
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Cultural Universals
 Communicating with a verbal language consisting of a
limited set of sounds and grammatical rules for
constructing sentences
 Using age and gender to classify people (e.g., teenager,
senior citizen, woman, man)
 Classifying people based on marriage and descent
relationships and having kinship terms to refer to them
(e.g., wife, mother, uncle, cousin)
 Raising children in some sort of family setting
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• Having a sexual division of labor (e.g.,
men's work versus women's work)
• Having a concept of privacy
• Having rules to regulate sexual behavior
•Distinguishing between good and bad
behavior
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• Having some sort of body ornamentation
• Making jokes and playing games
• Having art
• Having some sort of leadership roles for the
implementation of community decisions
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KEY FEATURES OF DARWIN’S
THEORY
 Variation: There is Variation in Every Population.
 Competition: Organisms Compete for limited resources.
 Offspring: Organisms produce more Offspring than can survive.
 Genetics: Organisms pass Genetic traits on to their offspring.
 Natural Selection: Those organisms with the Most Beneficial Traits
are more likely to Survive and Reproduce.
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VARIATION
Darwin suggests that the source
of variation is in "reproductive
elements prior to conception“
Variation is random and heritable.
Variation in domestic varieties is
different than in wild populations.
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COMPETITION
• The lack of resources to nourish the reproduced
individuals places pressure on the size of the species
population, and this means increased competition
and as a consequence, some organisms do not
survive.
• The organisms who die as a consequence of this
competition are not totally random, Darwin found that
those organisms more suited to their environment
were more likely to survive.
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OFFSPRING
• One of the prime motives for all species is to
reproduce and survive, passing on the genetic
information of the species from generation to
generation.
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• Differential reproduction- If an
organism lives half as long as others of its species,
but has twice as many offspring survive upto
adulthood, its genes will become more common in
the adult population of the next generation.
• If the variations are inherited, then differential
reproductive success will lead to a progressive
evolution of particular populations of a species,
and populations that evolve to be sufficiently
different might eventually become different species.
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GENETICS
• Genetics is
the study of the function
and behavior of genes.
•
Offspring receive a
mixture of genetic
information from both
parents. This process
contributes to the great
variation of traits
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DARWIN'S HYPOHTESIS
”…principle by which each slight variation, if useful, is
preserved”
• If the variations are inherited, then differential
reproductive success will lead to a progressive
evolution of particular populations of a species, and
populations that evolve to be sufficiently different
might eventually become different species
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DARWIN'S THEORY
Darwin came to understand that any population consists of individuals
that are all slightly different from one another, those individuals
having a variation that gives them an advantage in staying alive
long enough to successfully reproduce are the ones that pass on
their traits more frequently to the next generation.
Subsequently, their traits become more common and the population
evolves.
Darwin called this “descent with modification”.
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TELL-TALE SIGNS OF EVOLUTION
Our emotional behavior follows the pattern that are
already visible in lower animals.
The curling of lips into a sneer maybe a relic of the snarling
action designed to show the teeth to an enemy when the
teeth were still used as weapons.
Our lives are still dominated by functions imposed
on us as a result of our animal ancestors.
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Our moral sense is a product of interaction
between social instincts and developing intelligence .
in many ‘primitive’ tribes, the willingness to co-operate with
each other is confined to the tribal group-outsiders don’t
count as a moral universe.
This is consistent with the view that the social instincts were
built up for the benefit of the group.
As the size of our societies have increased we
have inevitably been learn to generalize the moral theories
designed to convince us that respect for others is an
absolute good.
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Adaptation explains why our ancestors had evolved
characters that separated them from apes. The apes have
remained apes because they have retained their ancestor
lifestyle in trees, their forelimbs have thus continued to be
adapted for grasping branches. Our own ancestors moved
out of the trees, stood upright as means of getting about in
open plains.
This in turn freed their hands for exploring the environment
and for using sticks and stones as primitive tools. Therefore
our intelligence is a byproduct of unique shift in lifestyle by
our ancestors. In their new way of life, something called
natural selection favored those individuals who walked
upright and in turn promoted the increase of intelligence
within a population that now had better opportunity to exploit
that faculty.
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TYPES OF SELECTION
1.Natural selection
2.Man-made selection
3.Sexual selection
it depends not on a struggle
for existence, but on struggle between males for the
possession of females. The result is not death to the
unsuccessful competitor, but few or no offspring. Therefore it is
less vigorous then natural selection.
SEXUAL SELECTION Vs NATURAL SELECTION:
MAN-MADE SELECTION Vs NATURAL SELECTION: N.S
powers on all ages and
both sexes. Man can act only on external and visible
characters. Nature cares nothing for appearances, except in so
far as they may be useful to any being. It can act on every
internal organ, on every shade, on whole machinery of life. Man
selects only for his own good, nature only for that of the being
for which it tends.
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NATURAL SELECTION
Daily and hourly scrutinising; throughout the world, every
variation, even the slightest; rejecting that which is bad,
preserving and adding up all that is good ; silently and
insensibly working, whenever and wherever opportunity
offers, at the improvement of each organic being in relation
to its organic and inorganic conditions of life.
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Natural selection can act only by preservation
and accumulation of infinitesimally small
inherited modifications, each profitable to
preserved being; and as modern geology
has almost banished such views as the
excavation of a great valley by a single
diluvial wave, so will natural selection, if it be
a true principle, banish the belief of continued
creation of new organic beings, or of any
great and sudden modifications in their
structures.
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EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY
 The purpose of evolutionary psychology is to
identify evolved emotional and cognitive
adaptations that represent "human
psychological nature.
 " Evolutionary Psychology is not a single theory
but a large set of hypotheses" and a term which
"has also come to refer to a particular way of
applying evolutionary theory to the mind,
with an emphasis on adaptation, gene-level
selection, and modularity.” - Steven Pinker
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Evolutionary Psychology
Evolutionary psychology borrows particular themes from
evolutionary biology (outlined above), and adds these
fundamental assumptions:
Existence of discrete psychological traits: Psychological
aspects of humans (e.g. "spatial ability", "anxiety levels") are
discrete traits,
Heritability of psychological traits: These traits have a
genetic basis, they are inherited, and at some point in the
evolutionary past have been components of genetic variation,
Adaptation: These traits have been exposed to selection,
and currently represent adaptations to some previous
environment.
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Principles of evolutionary psychology
Evolutionary psychology is a hybrid discipline that draws
insights from modern evolutionary theory, biology,
cognitive psychology, anthropology, economics,
Computer science, and paleoarchaeology.
Premises:
1) Manifest behavior depends on underlying psychological
mechanisms, information processing devices housed in the
brain, in conjunction with the external and internal inputs
that trigger their activation.
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1)
Evolution by selection is the only known causal process
capable of creating such complex organic mechanisms.
2)
Evolved psychological mechanisms are functionally
specialized to solve adaptive problems that recurred for
humans over deep evolutionary time.
3)
Selection designed the information processing of many
evolved psychological mechanisms to be adaptively
influenced by specific classes of information from the
environment.
4)
Human psychology consists of a large number of
functionally specialized evolved mechanisms, each
sensitive to particular forms of contextual input, that get
combined, coordinated, and integrated with each other to
produce manifest behavior.
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Culture and evolutionary psychology

The mind is a system of neuro-cognitive
information processing modules designed
by natural selection to solve the adaptive
problems of our distant ancestors.

The diversity of forms that human
cultures take are constrained by innate
information
processing
mechanisms
underlying our behavior.
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 Language acquisition modules
 Incest avoidance mechanisms
 Cheater detection mechanisms
 Intelligence and sex-specific mating preferences
 Foraging mechanisms
 Alliance-tracking mechanisms
 Agent detection mechanisms
 Fear and protection mechanisms (survival mechanisms)
These mechanisms are theorized to be the psychological
foundations of culture. In order to fully understand culture
we must understand its biological conditions of possibility.
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•
There was a rapid increase in size of brain
during the various evolutionary stages
•
The rapid increase in cerebral volume was concentrated
mainly in the association cortex( dealing with complex
calculations), hippocampus (dealing with memory) and
cerebellum (dealing with posture and balance).
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• Another significant change was a second
expansion of the brain and the descent of the
larynx in the wind pipe.
• An important event
was the evolution of
laryngeal nerves which
connects the brain to
the larynx and allows
us to speak. This
feature is also found in
some reptiles and
amphibians but is
vestigial in them.
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•
One of the main differences between the
apes and our ancestors was that the memory of
apes was episodic.
•While our ancestors, on the other hand, could
retrieve their memories as and when they wanted.
•This meant that our ancestors had access to
wide repertoire of memories which allowed them
to remember the body representations of various
activities and hence in turn allowing them to
perfect them and even improvise on them.
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•
As the whole body
became a tool for
communication new social
territories began opening
up: complex games,
extended competition,
pedagogy through direct
imitation, a more complex
repertoire of facial
expressions and intentional
group displays of
aggression, solidarity, joy,
fear and sorrow forming the
basis of the first hominid
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•
The social, cultural, anatomical changes
surrounding the hominids paved the way for lexicon
invention.
• The language was an
offshoot of the lexicon
invention which enabled our
ancestors to enable relationship
between words and the
imposition of metalinguistic
skills the govern the uses of
these words
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•
Language gradually assumed a dominant and an
important role the human culture but never eliminating
the mimetic skills learned earlier on.
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• This resulted in the well known phrase “survival
of the fittest”, where the organisms most suited to
their environment had more chance of survival if the
species falls upon hard times.
• Those organisms who are better suited to their
environment exhibit desirable characteristics, which
is a consequence of their genome being more
suitable to begin with.
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ANATOMICAL IMPLICATIONS OF DARWIN’S
THEORY
Right Handedness
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Bipedalism
RIGHT HAND SPECIFICITY IN HIGHER
HOMINIDS
Handedness is an attribute of human beings defined by
their unequal distribution of fine motor skill between the
left and right hands
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HANDEDNESS
Most humans (say 70 percent to 95 percent) are righthanded, a minority (say 5 percent to 30 percent) are
left-handed, This appears to be universally true for all
human populations anywhere in the world. There is
evidence for genetic influence for handedness although
it can be influenced (and changed) by social and
cultural mechanisms.
- It is not unusual for individual animals to show a preferential use
of one hand over the other, to develop an individual hand
preference. But there is no consensus among researchers that
any non-human species shows the same species-level
handedness found in humans.
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HANDEDNESS
What is the cause of
handedness and
why the
handedness is
majorly dominant in
humans and
Not animals as
such…?
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Experiment
• US university scientists were able to synthesize a drug that could
generate similar dillusional environment that existed in the times
when major anatomical transformations were occuring among
previous hominids .
•When this drug was administered to apes it was found that those
showed greater endurance to that drug that had greater right hand
specificity.
• Thus experiment revealed that right handedness gradually grew
during the phase of evolution of prehominids into later developed
hominids representing this property grew as a result of cultural and
anatomical human development which is now visible in existence of
species level handedness in humans
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ORIGIN OF
BIPEDALISM
As the successive
homonids generations
were advancing in cultural
and neural fields it
demanded more efficient
energy management,
therefore bipedalism was
one the most significant
anatomical
transformations of the
era.
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• Anthropologists theorized that early humans
began walking on two legs as a way to reduce
locomotor energy costs.
• To examine this theory among humans and adult
chimpanzees, researchers have found that human
walking is around 75 percent less costly, in terms
of energy and caloric expenditure, than
quadrupedal knucklewalking in chimpanzees.
• That energy savings could have provided early
hominids with an evolutionary advantage over
other apes by reducing the cost of foraging for
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food.
•The thermoregulatory model (Wheeler Labs)
views the increased heat loss, increased cooling,
reduced heat gain and reduced water requirements
conferred by a bipedal stance in a hot, tropical
climate as the selective pressure leading to
bipedalism.
• Sleeping on back is
possible anatomically
only in bipedals and
research shows sleeping
on back is least
expensive way as far as
energy is concerned.
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CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT
AND
INHERITANCE
over the period of evolution,the
humans which were once a mere food
gatherers and hunters have evolved
not only anatomically but also
culturally as well as technologically.
This vast sea of knowledge which has
been accumulated over the period of
time is not just a 1 generation
process but gradually developed as
the fruits of inheritance.
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INHERITANCE
• This property of passing on valued knowledge as well
as skills to the successors called inheritance which has
ultimately played important role in the development of
human culture as we see today.
• As humans developed anatomically majorly in the
neural area, the basic human efforts became more and
more thoughtful as the thinking processes had begun
• The era of language development dawned upon and
soon man was making long strides in the cultural
expansion and knowledge.
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• Humans started resorting to external memories to
better organise the complex structure of their lives
which is evident in the large number engravings ,ancient
texts, and sculptures.
• This era marked not only the acquisition of
knowledge but also their preservation which could be
rightfully transferrred to next generations which further
developed and consolidated them .
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Marxism
 Karl Marx
1818-1883
 Friedrich Engels
1820-1895
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Influences
 Hegel
 Feuerbach
 Max Stirner
 Moses Hess
 Lewis Morgan
A mere property career is not the final destiny of
mankind ...
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A Basic Question…
 “Why do we live the kind of life that we live?”
 Marxism is a cultural theory which seeks to give a
historical and materialist explanation for the
kind of lives we live.
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Metaphors of Understanding Society
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Functionalism
“Society Is Like”: A Human
Body
Characteristics of human body…
Characteristics of society…
Each part of the body
works in harmony
with all other parts
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Each part of society
works in harmony
with all other parts
Interactionism
“Society Is Like”: A Play
Characteristics of a play
A play has actors
who play their
individual roles
Characteristics of society
Society consists of
individual actors
who play a variety of
roles
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Post-Modernism
“Society Is Like”: A Theme Park
Characteristics of theme park
A theme park has
numerous different
rides
Characteristics of society
Society is characterised by
a multiplicity of choices
(work, education, leisure,
etc.)
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Idealism
 This school of thought looks upon nature and history
as a reflection of ideas or spirit. The theory that men
and women and every material thing was created by a
divine Spirit, is a basic concept of idealism.
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 History is explained as a history of thought.
 People's actions are seen as resulting from abstract
thoughts, and not from their material needs.
 Hegel turned thoughts into an independent "Idea"
existing outside of the brain and independent of
the material world. The latter was merely a
reflection of this Idea.
 Religion is part and parcel of philosophical
idealism.
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Hegelian Dialectics
 Marx a “Young Hegelian”
 Dialectics is the science of the general laws of motion
and development of nature, human society and
thought.
 Dialectics deals not only with facts, but with facts in
their connection, i.e. processes, not only with isolated
ideas, but with laws, not only with the particular, but
with the general.
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Dialectics
 "A development that seemingly repeats the stages
already passed, but repeats them differently, on a
higher basis a development, so to speak, in spirals, not
in a straight line; a development by leaps,
catastrophes, revolutions; breaks in continuity…”
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HEGEL
 Hegel’s dialectic is often characterized as a three step
process of
Thesis
Antithesis
Synthesis
 It is the way how one can explain formation of every society
past and present.
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Hegel
 “What experience and
history teach is this –
that nations and
governments have
never learned anything
from history, or acted
upon any lessons they
might have drawn from
it.”
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 Hegel brilliantly posed the problem, but was
prevented from solving it by his idealist
preconceptions.
 It was, in Engels' words "a colossal miscarriage".
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Dialectical Materialism
 Maintains that the material world is real and that
nature or matter is primary.
 The mind or ideas are a product of the brain. The
brain, and therefore ideas, arose at a certain stage in
the development of living matter.
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 Marx explained, on the contrary, thoughts and ideas
were simply the reflection of the material world. So
Hegelian dialectics was fused with modern
materialism to produce the higher understanding of
dialectical materialism
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Marxist philosophy
 The driving force of history is neither "Great Men" nor
the super-natural, but stems from the development of
the productive forces (industry, science, technique,
etc.) themselves.
 It is economics, in the last analysis, that determines
the conditions of life, the
habits and consciousness of human beings.
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 In all societies, the provision and social
organisation of such things as food, clothing and
shelter is a fundamental social necessity and it
involves devising some means whereby such things
are:
 Produced by a population.
 Distributed to people
 Exchanged in some way.
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 In addition, it is important to note that the
production, distribution and exchange of such
things as food and shelter is a communal activity people have to co-operate in some way to produce
these things.
 In order to produce, therefore, people enter, willingly
or unwillingly into a variety of social relationships.
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 Marx argued that, throughout human history, the way
in which people "co-operated" - or organised
themselves - to produce the "means of their social
existence" has been different.
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 "In the social production which men carry on, they
Marx
enter into definite relations that are indispensable
and independent of their will; these relations of
production correspond to a definite stage of
development of their material powers of
production.
 The sum total of these relations of production
constitutes the economic structure of society - the
real foundations, on which rise legal and political
superstructures and to which correspond definite
forms of social consciousness."
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Historical Materialism
Men make their own history, but they do not make it
just as they please; they do not make it under
circumstances chosen by themselves, but under
circumstances directly found, given and transmitted
from the past. The tradition of all the dead generations
weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Practice
 To transform both the world and man’s consciousness
of it
 To achieve the state of Communism:
From each according to his ability, to each according to
his needs.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 “Society" is not a something that exists over and above
people.
 “Society" is the product of people's behaviour. If
people create the social structures within which
behaviour is ordered then, of course, they are perfectly
capable of changing the social order
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
The relationship between social classes is basically:
 Unequal
 Exploitative
 Founded on a conflict of interest
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 To expose the political and economic contradictions
inherent in Capitalism (for example, the fact that
while people co-operate to produce goods, a Capitalist
class appropriates these goods for its private profit).
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 All exploiting classes attempt to morally justify their
class rule by portraying them, as the highest, most
natural form of social development, deliberately
concealing the system of exploitation by disguising
and distorting the truth.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Society / social systems are in a constant - inevitable - state
of conflict. Social order exists not because it is:
 a. The "natural" state of things or,
 b. Because everyone is in basic agreement about how order
should be maintained and so forth.
But order exists because powerful social groups (or classes)
are able to impose a sense of order, permanence and
stability upon all other classes in society.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Therefore, those who dominate the economic sphere
in any society will also dominate politically and
ideologically - and, in this respect, an important idea
is that the ideology of the ruling class is the
dominant ideology in society.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Power








The possession of power gives you:
1. Economic power
Wealth
Status.
2. Political power
Control over political institutions (government, the State).
3. Ideological power
Control over the way in which people are able to visualise
and interpret the social world. This is carried-out through
various forms of socialisation through the mass media, the
workplace, the family, the education system
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 “The mode of production in material life determines
the general character of the social, political, and
intellectual processes of life.”
 “It is not the consciousness of men which determines
their existence; it is on the contrary their social
existence which determines their consciousness.”
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Consciousness
 It is our socio-economic reality that gives shape to
our way of thinking and not the other way around.
 The economic reality in which we find ourselves
determines our culture and our consciousness.
 There is no absolute knowledge and at any given
time, the ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling
CLASS.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Base and Superstructure
 Marx argued that these two basic types of social
relationships represented two parts of the overall
nature of relationships within capitalist society:
 1. Economic relationships - the "infrastructure" or
"economic base" of society.
 2. Political / ideological relationships - the
"superstructure" of society.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Although superstructural relationships are
important, they ultimately rest upon the
economic base of society.
 According to Marxists, these kinds of
relationships are dependent upon - and reflect the nature of economic relationships in society.
Thus, if economic relationships are
fundamentally unequal, then political and
ideological relationships will both reflect - and
help to reinforce - inequality.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Superstructure
Consciousness
Religion
Morality
Education
Family
Mass Media
Legal System
Workplace Ethics
Base
Relations of Production
Forces of Production
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Education
 For Marx education performs two main functions
in capitalist society: 1. It reproduces the inequalities and social
relations of production of Capitalist Society.
 2. It serves to legitimate these inequalities under
the guise of Meritocracy.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Revolutionary changes in society take place because
the “the forces of production” come into conflict with
the “relations of production”
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Historical Materialism
 Primitive Communism – Based on cooperation
Emergence of surplus and private property
The historic defeat of women
 Slave Society
 Feudalism
 Absolute Monarchy
 Capitalist Revolution
Competition
 Imperialism
 Socialism
 Communism – Cooperation
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 According to Marx, different historical periods
have different dominant means of production
(which, in turn, produces different types of
society).
 In Feudal society, land was the most important
means of production.
 In Capitalist society, land is still significant, but
the most important means of production are
things like factories, machines and so forth.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Feudalism
 Different societies at different times in their historical
development involve some or all of the above as part of the
general production process.
 For example, in Britain in the Middle Ages, the forces of
production would have involved:
Land - since this was basically an agricultural society.
Raw materials - basically anything that could be grown...
Tools - but not machines, as such.
Knowledge - but not particularly "scientific" as we might
understand the term.
People - the "labour power" of peasants, for example, working
on the land.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Capitalism
 The relationship to the means of production
objectively determines our social class and, if
we accept this idea for a moment, it follows that he
initially identified two great classes in Capitalist
society:
 1. The Bourgeoisie (Upper or Ruling class).
Those people (a minority) who owned the means of
production.
 2. The Proletariat (Lower or Working class).
Those people (the majority) who did not own the
means of production.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Marx argued that all societies involved conflict -
sometimes open but more usually submerged beneath
the surface of everyday life - that was based upon
fundamental inequalities and different economic
and political interests
 The history of all societies is the history of Class
conflict
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The basis of this conflict lies in the fact that although
wealth is created by the Proletariat (the working
class), it is appropriated (that is "taken away")
privately - by the Bourgeoisie - in the form of
profits.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Class
Society
the proletariat
(or working class)
own nothing but their labour power
the bourgeoisie
(or capitalists)
own the means of production
The proletariat have no one beneath them to exploit so the only path
they can take to freedom is to set up a classless society in which no
one is exploited. This, they thought, would happen after a
revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and after an in-between period
called the "dictatorship of the proletariat".
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The Bourgeoisie in any Capitalist society resolve it
through somehow making the Proletariat believe that
the economic system is based upon freedom,
fairness and equality.
 This is where the concepts of both "power" and
"ideology" come into the equation.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Consensual Values???
 Though it appears that people in any society do
share fundamental values, but Marx argued that
this "consensus over basic values" (which
Functionalists, for example, tend to take for
granted) was by no means the whole story.
 In effect, Marx argued that the Bourgeoisie are
able to use the power that comes from economic
ownership to "control" the way in which people
think about and "see" the nature of the social
world.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Manufactured Consent
 Marxists see this consensus as being
manufactured by the Bourgeoisie (through the
primary and secondary socialisation process and
cultural institutions such as religion, education and
the mass media).
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Hegemony
 Leadership with the consent of the led
 There are two ways in which a ruling class can consolidate its
hegemony over other classes:
 a. Through the use of force (the police and army, for example).
Althusser called these "Repressive State Apparatus" (RSAs)
 b. Through the use of ideology / socialisation (the mass media,
social workers, teachers and the like - a form of "soft policing")
Althusser called these "Ideological State Apparatus" (ISAs)
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Alienation
 Alienation is used to refer to the way in which
Capitalist society degrades both the Bourgeoisie and
the Proletariat.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The Bourgeoisie are alienated from their fellow
human beings because of their exploitation and
oppression of the rest of society. This condition of
alienation is used to explain why such things as crime
occurs in society - the social bonds that should tie
people together are fatally weakened by the
exploitative relationship between Capital and Labour.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The Proletariat are alienated from society because
although they are responsible for producing goods cooperatively (for the potential benefit of society as a
whole), the fruits of their labour are appropriated by
the Bourgeoisie (in the form of profit) for their private
use.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The philosophers have only interpreted the world in
various ways; the point is, to CHANGE it.
 Communism is a political philosophy which argues
that men should have equal rights to wealth.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The first step in the revolution by the working
class is to raise the proletariat to the position of
ruling class to win the battle of democracy.
 The proletariat will use its political supremacy to
wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie,
to centralize all instruments of production in the
hands of the state, i.e., of the proletariat organized
as the ruling class; and to increase the total
productive forces as rapidly as possible.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
The Communist Manifesto
 Abolition of private property
 Abolition of all rights of inheritance.
 Equal obligation of all to work.
 Establishment of industrial armies, especially
for agriculture.
 Free education for all children in public
schools.
 Abolition of children's factory labor in its
present form.
 Combination of education with industrial
production
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes
and class antagonisms, we shall have an association in
which the free development of each is the condition
for the free development of all.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Capitalism effects the ideology of people as it:
 Destroys important human values, replacing even
religious belief with naked exploitation.
 Undermines an individual’s sense of personal value
in one’s work.
 Undermines human relationships; all relationships
are based on cash.
 Destroys human freedom. The only freedom it
protects is free trade.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
From Communist Manifesto
“The bourgeoisie … has created enormous cities,
has greatly increased the urban population as
compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a
considerable part of the population from the
idiocy of rural life…. The bourgeoisie, during its
rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more
massive and more colossal productive forces than
have all preceding generations together… railways,
electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents
for cultivation, canalization of rivers.”
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Factors responsible for the fall of
imperialism
 Capitalism creates huge factories, workers become
concentrated and begin to organize for legal
reforms (higher wages/better working conditions).
Their effort fails. Fierce competition between
capitalists leads to new technologies, which leads
to lower costs. In the competition, some capitalists
go bankrupt & have to become workers, and many
workers lose their jobs as new technology replaces
them
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Greater numbers of people permanently unemployed.
Misery widespread.
 Fewer people can afford the products of capitalists, so
fewer companies survive.
 The proletariat, having nothing to lose but their
chains, so they rise up.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
The Vision of the Socialists
 Socialist Revolution will eliminate private property. No
longer will man have the means of exploiting another
man.
 Bourgeoisie will fight, so revolution will be violent.
 A dictatorship of the proletariat will follow to weed out
remaining capitalist elements.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 In the end, a classless society with no more oppression
or internal contradictions.
 People will be free to choose how they labor, and can
be creatively productive. They will be able to live to
their fullest potential.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Its description in Marx’s Communist Manifesto in
1845:
“In communist society, …nobody has one exclusive
sphere of activity but each can become
accomplished in any branch he wishes,… to hunt
in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in
the evening, criticize after dinner, … without ever
becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.”
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
The Socio-economic Conditions that favored
rise of socialism :
 The increase in the number of workers in the
industrializing nations was one important factor.
The concentration of industries during the socalled second industrial revolution that occurred
during the last two decades of the nineteenth
century brought together workers in
unprecedented numbers. Rapid industrialization
also accelerated the tendency of the general
population to move from the countryside into
urban centers. Cities proved to be favorable
environments for socialist organizations—which
demanded a fairly sophisticated social/cultural
infrastructure in order to thrive.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The rise of literacy also redounded to the benefit of the
socialists: as more and more workers learned to read
they were able to imbibe socialist ideas in the form of
pamphlets, books, and the press.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The "democratization" of the ballot box also
helped the socialists in that the extension of the
franchise brought more workers into the political
arena thus making it possible to get socialist
deputies elected to parliament. All of these factors
created the basis for a "proletarian" mentality or
consciousness. By the late 1880s workers were
joining clubs and trade unions, electing their own
representatives, and subscribing to their own
publications. And though this is not to say that all
workers were necessarily socialist, it did mean that
the principal vehicles for propagating and
sustaining socialism were now anchored in the
framework of modern industrial society.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
The Paris Commune
The prevalent socio-economic conditions and the postwar conditions made the working class restless and on
March 18th 1871 , a socialist form of government called
the “Paris Commune” took over Paris and denied
subjugation to France Imperialist government . But
was brutally suppressed by the Capitalist regime in
about 2 months.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Destruction of the Vendôme Colonne
during the Paris Commune.
A barricade in the Paris Commune,
March 18, 1871
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
SOCIALISM
 Socialism refers to a broad array of doctrines or
political movements that visualize a socioeconomic system in which property and the
distribution of wealth are subject to control by the
community for the purposes of increasing social
and economic equality and cooperation. This
control may be either direct—exercised through
popular collectives such as workers' councils — or
indirect—exercised on behalf of the people by the
state. As an economic system , socialism is often
characterized by socialized (state or community)
ownership of the means of production .
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 In a socialist society the means of producing and
distributing wealth—factories, farms, mines,
docks, offices, transport—will belong to the whole
community. Common ownership will do away with
the need for exchange, so that money will have no
use.
 Production in socialism will be determined by
people on the basis of social need, not profit. At
the moment people may need wealth but, unless
they can afford to buy it, they must go without.
Production is geared to sale with a view to profit.
Socialism means production solely for use: bread
to eat, houses to live in, clothes to wear.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
What will be the incentive to work in a socialist
society?
There will be no wages, for in a classless society no
person will have the right to buy another person's
ability to work for a price. Work in socialist society
will depend on cooperation and the voluntary
decisions of men and women to contribute to
society in order to keep it going. Just as an
individual could not survive if he or she did not
eat, drink or take basic health care, so a socialist
society would not survive unless the people in it
acted cooperatively in a spirit of mutuality.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 One basic question : why should those who provide
the money (capital) receive all the profits, and those
who provide the labor receive none of the profits?
 It is labor, after all, that turns raw materials (including
cash) into something with greater value.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Socialism could be summed up in this way:
“All social wealth, the land with all its natural
resources hidden in its bowels and on the surface,
and all factories and works must be taken out of
the hands of the exploiters and taken into
common property of the people. The first duty of a
real workers' government is to declare by means of
a series of decrees the most important means of
production to be national property and place them
under the control of society.”
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
An explanation of Socialism…
In other words, the resources should be in the
hands of the workforce, not the few rich people
there are. The true duty of the government is to
place the ‘national property’ under the control
of the “common” person.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
LENIN
Engels
The Great Socialists
Robert Owen
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LABOUR
 Labour begins with the making
of tools.
 With these tools, humans
change their surrounding to
meet their needs.
 The essential distinction
between Man and other
animals :
 "The animal merely uses its
environment," says Engels, "and
brings about changes in it
simply by his presence;
 Man by his changes makes it
serve his ends, masters it.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Stone Age : Nomadic Life
 Humans, were very rare
animals, and they roamed
around in groups in search
of food. This nomadic life
was completely dominated
with food gathering.
 Everything that was made,
collected, or produced was
considered common
property.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Barbarism
 Between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago, a new higher
period emerged known as the new stone age or
Barbarism.
 Instead of roaming for food, advances were made in
cultivating crops and domesticating animals.
 Stable tribes and communities arose at this time.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
MATRIARCHAL Society
 In the stage of primitive communism (savagery and




barbarism) no private property, classes, privileged elites,
police or special coercive apparatus (the state) existed.
The tribes were divided into social units called clans or
gentes (singular gens).
These were very large family groups, which traced their
descent from the female line alone.
It was forbidden for a man to cohabit with a woman from
his own clan or gens, thus the tribes were made up from a
coalition of clans.
At certain times, a form of group marriage existed between
the clans themselves.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
The PATRIARCHAL Society
 Common tribal property came under growing
strain from the development with the private
family, with private houses growing up alongside
the communal dwellings.
 Common Land became later divided up to form
the collective property of each family. The
Matriarchal family gave way to the Patriarchal
(male dominated) form, which became essential to
the maintenance of the collective property.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Ownership of Private Propery
 With the growth of new means of production,
particularly in agriculture, the question arose “who
should own them”?
 With the further development of the productive
forces, inequality began to appear within society.
 For the first time, men and women were able to
produce a surplus above and beyond his own
needs, resulting in a revolutionary leap forward for
humanity.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Build
Up
to
the
Slave
Society
 In the past, where war broke out
between two tribes, it was
uneconomic to take captives as
slaves.
 After all, a captive would only
have been able to produce
sufficient food for himself. No
surplus was produced.
 The only use for a captive, given
the shortage of food, was as a
source of meat. This was the
economic foundation of
cannibalism.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Build Up
 But once a surplus was produced, it became
economically viable to keep a slave who was forced
to work for his master.
 The surplus obtained from a growing number of
slaves was then appropriated by the new class of
slave owners.
 Problem : How were the slaves to be controlled and
forced to work? The old tribes had no police force
or means of coercion.
 Solution : Every individual was free and was a
warrior.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
The Society Divides
 The production of a surplus product smashed the
old forms of society, enabling classes to crystallise.
 Rich and poor, landowner and tenant, creditor and
debtor all made their appearance in society.
 The clans which were social units of originally
blood relations, began to disintegrate. The rich of
different clans had more in common with each
other than they had with the poor of their own
clan.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Shift
in
the
Role
 For the first time since humans
evolved from the ape, a section of
society was freed from the labour
of eking out an existence
 Those who were freed from work
could now devote their time to
science, philosophy and culture.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Shift in the Role
 With the growth of the city-states,
the increase in the division of labour
greatly accelerated new crafts sprung
up together with a growing band of
artists catering for the tastes and
culture of the upper class
 Function of the new ruling class was
to develop the productive forces and
take society forward. It was at this
stage that civilisation first emerged
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Rise of Feudalism
850-1000 AD
QIP
Cell Project
A New Type
of CD
Government
ForIIT
a New Situation
Guwahati 2009-10
Origin of Feudalism
 Roman Empire outstretched itself to
increase the slave population though
continuous wars.
 As a result many peasants – “The best
soldiers” died bringing the cheap slave
and the slave empires to an end.
 The Great Migrations, the flooding of the
Roman Empire by the swarms of savage
Germans,
 The conquest of The Barbarians marked
the end of a civilization. They were
uncivilized European tribes who had no
respect for art and education.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Rise of Feudalism
 Barbarians destroyed productive forces: agriculture, industry
and trade. The rural and urban population had decreased.
 In their conquest of territories they proceeded to ransack the
towns and settle down in the countryside. There they lived by
means of primitive agriculture.
The need for social security, political order and economic growth
gave rise to
Feudalism
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Feudalism
Etymology:
The term "feudalism" came
from the German fief. "Fief"
simply meant "something of
value." In the agricultural
world of the time,
"something of value" was
usually land.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Definitions of Feudalism
 Feudalism was the system of
loyalties and protections during
the Middle Ages.
 Feudalism is a political system
of power dispersed and
balanced between king and
nobles.
 Feudalism is a decentralized
organization that arises when
central authority cannot
perform its functions and when
it cannot prevent the rise of
local powers.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Feudalism - in its primitive form
 During the Middle Ages,
peasants could no longer
count on the Roman army
to protect them. German,
Viking and Magyar tribes
overran homes and farms
throughout Europe. The
peasants turned to the
landowners, often called
lords, to protect them.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Feudalism - in its primitive form
 The barbarians hence formed
small communities with elected
village chiefs.
 Gradually, the chiefs were
chosen from the same family
through succession.
 Villages were at constant war
resulting in conquered land
being divided up with the
greater share to the chief.
The chief guaranteed protection to those under him,
in turn the villagers owed fidelity and homage to the lord.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Crystallization of Feudal Relations
 The authority of the village lords




extended into the surrounding
countryside.
The lords or barons and their men-atarms formed a new social hierarchy
sustained by labour provided by their
vassals.
The barons carried out continual warfare
among themselves in order to enlarge
their territories.
The vanquished became vassals of the
conqueror.
Stronger Barons won and became potent
feudatories and established feudal courts
which petty barons in vassalage were
bound to attend.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Lords/Barons + Men
at arms
Villagers/Vassals
This was the hierarchy
Maturity in Feudal Relations
 Majority of farmland became
divided into areas known as
manors, each manor possessing
its own lord/Baron and officials.
 The arable land was divided into
two parts, about a third belonged
to the lord, while the rest divided
amongst his vassals.
 The vassals share of land was
further divided up into separate
strips scattered throughout the
fields which meant a massive
drain on productivity.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Maturity in Feudal Relations
The social structure that
developed under feudalism gave
rise to new classes and groups.
The social framework
represented a pyramid structure
headed by the king,
aristocracy, the great church
men and bishops. Under the
privileged were barons, dukes,
counts & knights. On the
bottom rungs of social order
were freeman, serfs and slaves.
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Feudal Hierarchy
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Feudal Hierarchy
Role of the King
The King was in complete control under the
Feudal System. He owned all the land in the
country and decided who he would lease land
to.
Role of the Baron
The men who leased land from the King were
known as Barons, they were wealthy, powerful
and had complete control of the land they
leased from the King. They established their
own system of justice.
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Feudal Hierarchy
Role of the Knights
 Knights were given land by a Baron
in return for military service when
demanded by the King.
 They had to protect the Baron and
his family, as well as the Manor, from
attack.
 The Knights kept as much of the
land as they wished for their own
personal use and distributed the rest
to villeins(serfs).
 Although not as rich as
Barons, Knights were quite wealthy
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Feudal Hierarchy
Role of the Serfs/Vassals/Peasants
First
kind: Borders, Cotters, Villeins
• Serfs were given land by Knights.
• Serfs were bound to the land.
• They had to provide the Knight with free labour, food &
service whenever demanded.
• They had no rights and had to pay taxes to the king.
• They were poor.
• They were not allowed to leave the Manor and had to ask
their lords permission even for marrying.
• Serfs would often have to work three or four days a week
for the lord as rent. They would spend the rest of their
week growing crops to feed their families.
• Life for a serf was not much better than the life of a
slave. The only difference was that a serf could not be
sold to another manor.
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Feudal Hierarchy
Role of the Serfs/Vassals/Peasants

Second kind:
Other serfs worked as Sharecroppers. A sharecropper would
be required to turn over most of what he grew in order to be
able to live on the land.

Third kind: Freemen
Other kind of serfs were free. They owned the lands they
worked on and did not have to pay for them.

Fourth kind: Slaves
•They could be sold to other manors.
•They owned nothing.
•They owed nothing to the king unlike the serfs who were the tenants.
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Feudal System

Unlike today, where the main body of wealth is
created in the factories, “the land” produced
almost all of the social requirement.

The more land one held the more powerful one
became.

The ruling class rued by their virtual monopoly of
land to which the serfs were tied.

The lord’s needs came first.
This new organization of society based on landed property
gave rise to a further development of the productive forces.
This time the surplus value created by the serf’s labor was
appropriated by the Aristocratic lay and ecclesiastical
ruling class.
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New Crystallization in the Feudal System

The church became more and
more powerful.

Pope became more powerful
thank the king or emperor with
church lands extending to
between a third and a half of the
land in Christendom.

The new morality and ideology
that arose from these forms made
the church more and more
important.
Feudalism was a total socio-economic political system
based upon land ownership or control
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Feudalism - Socially
 Headed
by Absolute
Church
 Courts
 Cathedral building
 Patriarchal Society
 Closed caste system
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Feudalism Economically
 Largely
Agrarian
 Generalization
 Closed Economy theory
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Feudalism Politically
 Divine
Right Monarchy
 Parliament
•
•
•
House of Lords
Great Council
Cabinet
 Military-subsystem of
political
•
•
•
•
King
Great Nobles
Lesser Nobles
Freemen
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Rise of Absolute Monarchy

In general the feudal state was weak until the rise of absolute
monarchies in the 16th century

The Baronial wars took place when the robber Barons built up
power and prestige to attack the central monarchy.

The struggle of central monarch to subdue the regions – was
the characteristic feature of the period.

These wars helped trade to develop to a higher level.
•Trade was at low level
•Land produced practically everything.
•It was natural economy geared
towards self sufficiency.
Before
•New needs aroused due to
crusades.
•Merchants sold at high prices
•This merchant arouse clashed with
the traditional standards and restrictions of the feudal society
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•Trade was at low level
•Land produced practically everything.
•It was natural economy geared
towards self sufficiency.
Before
•New needs aroused due to
crusades.
•Merchants sold at high prices
•This merchant arouse clashed with
the traditional standards and restrictions of the feudal society
This lead to the decline of Feudalism
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Decline of Feudalism
Factors:
 Crusades
 Plagues
 Increased trade
 Capitalism
 Absolute Monarchy
 St. Thomas Aquinas
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Decline of Feudalism
The Black Death:
•
•
Killed at least 1/3 of
Europe’s population
Caused huge social
upheaval!
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Decline of Feudalism
The Black Death:
 It occurred in the mid
14th century.
 Killed at least 1/3 of
Europe’s population
• Caused huge social
upheaval!
• The Great Plague also
occurred at the same
time.
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Transformations due to Trade





As trade grew, a new class of rich
merchants developed
Growth of towns
The merchant class that arose
clashed with the traditional
standards and restrictions of
feudalism
Towns began to demand their
freedom and independence
Gradually, town charters were
conceded , by agreement or by
force
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Transformations due to Trade
• No longer was the land the soul
source of power and privilege , as
money acquired in trading
assumed much greater
importance.
 Small scale individual production
was controlled and regulated
through guild system

With further division of labour,
Craft guilds were established
comprising- master, apprentices
and journeymen
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Transformations due to Trade

As more & more wealth
accumulated, guild masters came
into conflict with journeymen, &
hence unions were created

The rigid feudal system started
losing its hold on the society,
as trade flourished across and
beyond Europe

Money economy was introduced
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Decline of Feudalism
Other Factors:





The Peasants Revolt - Peasants realised their worth and demanded
changes. Charters were granted but ignored by nobles
Peasants moved away from the country into towns they were
eventually allowed to buy their freedom
Land was rented and the rights of lords over labour decreased
The Feudal Levy was unpopular and as time went by Nobles
preferred to pay the King rather than to fight and raise troops
A centralised government was established
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Under feudalism the King was answerable to the Pope. At the end
of the Middle Ages King Henry VIII clashed with the Pope and
England subsequently broke with the Catholic church of
Rome and the power of the Pope. This led to the establishment
of the Church of England and the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
It was the final 'nail in the coffin' of the Medieval Feudal System,
feudalism, in England.
Thus the conclusion of a dying civilization and
the formation of the basis for a new upswing of
civilization.
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The capitalism came into existence by revolution, in which
the "bourgeoise" class displaced the land-lord class
as the economically dominant class, with or against the
national monarchs as the case might be. These capitalist
revolutions began roughly in the 1600's, and in some parts
of the world, they continue today. As Marx and Engels
observed, this new capitalist system has often been very
dynamic, increasing the productivity of labor at
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unprecedented rates. Yet the two most characteristic
feature of capitalism have also been sources of tension
that sometimes seemed destined to replace capitalism
with some other system, either gradually or in a further
revolution. One of those features is the new division of
society into two classes: employers and employees, or,
in Marxist terms, capitalists and workers or "proletarians."
The other is the key role of the national state, which has
sometimes been the rival of the capitalist employer class as
the directing force in the economy.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
The
most
immediate
way
in
which
the
Reformation(especially of calvinist variety) aided the
capitalist was by removing the stigma which the Catholic
church had traditionally attached to money-lending.
Calvinism positively encouraged the purposeful investment
of money, by presenting luxury and self-indulgence as vices
and thrift as a virtue. It even subtly contrives to suggest that
wealth may itself be a sign of virtue.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
•Capitalism started to emerge during the 17th Century.
At first the merchants, or “buyer uppers”, as they
became known, were a link between the consumer and
producer. However, gradually, they began to dominate
the latter, first by placing orders and paying in advance,
then by supplying the raw materials, and paying a wage
for the work done in producing finished
•goods.
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The concept of a waged worker signalled a crucial
stage in the
development of capitalism. Its introduction was
the final stage in the “buyer uppers” transition
from merchant, (making money from trade), to
capitalist (deriving wealth from the ownership
and control of the means of production). The first
stage of capitalism had come into being. This
stage saw one new class, the primitive capitalists,
exerting power over another new class, the waged
workers.
Early capitalism also engendered new methods of
production.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
The earliest was the ‘cottage industry’, which saw
individual homes become mini-factories, with
production directed by the capitalist. The cottage
industry model became so widespread in the
woollen textile industry that it became a method of
mass production. In turn, the wool trade became
Britain’s most important industry by the end of the
17th Century.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
It began with a split in the ruling class viz. aristocracy
and the parliament.
The king and his ministers clashed over a scheme to
avoid state bankruptcy, with the parliament.
The parliament enjoyed a huge support among the
masses which broke out into deadly riots.
George Rude: The revolt of the nobility was a curtain
raiser rather than a revolution.
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Between 1789 and 1793 the old feudal regime and the
aristocracy had been completely swept away.
The regime was headed by the revolutionary political
middle class the Jacobins supported by the
plebeians(wage earners and small craftsmen).
Political shift to right occurred in 1794 with the
government of directory coming to power.
The old order had been broken, but the new bourgeois
property rights were conserved.
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By the early 1770s, the economic and social conditions were in
place for the industrial revolution to explode on to the world’s
economies. Powered by a number of new inventions, the primitive
factory system was transformed, as machine power drove productivity
to unprecedented levels. With the factories transformed by the new
machinery, the cottage industries could not possibly compete and
soon collapsed. Between the 1770s and the 1830s, there was a
boom in factory production with all manner of buildings being
converted into factories and the majority of waged labor taking place
within factory buildings.
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It is important to note that ownership of the ‘means of
production’ at this stage in the development of industrial
capitalism meant not only the ownership of factories,
machinery and the power to invest or withhold capital,
but also the means of the production of knowledge.
Capitalists who owned newspapers, for example, could
exert great political influence to protect their own
interests. Ownership of a newspaper meant not only the
direct control of print workers, distributors and sellers,
but control over the transmission of information. This
could, for instance, extend to direct or indirect political
influence through specific politicians or parties. It might
also extend and protect capitalist interests by the spread
of ideology and, less subtly, blatant propaganda.
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1)The establishment of capitalism was a time of upheaval and
bitter struggles between new and old power-brokers.
2)The mass of the population were dragged unwillingly into
an increasingly violent conditioning process.
3)The new capitalists needed to be able to exert ever more
pressure on their producers to produce more for less, so that
the capitalists could maintain trading prices and increase
profits.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
4)They looked to the state to ensure pressure was brought to
bear on workers who, for the first time, were being forced to
sell their labor in an increasingly competitive work
environment, which was itself aggravated by the swollen
ranks of the new landless an unemployed.
5)Laws were passed setting a rate for the maximum wage
payable to peasants.
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6)The aim of all this brutal legislation was to turn the
dispossessed into a disciplined obedient class of wage
workers who, for a pittance, would offer up their labor
to the new capitalism.
7)
The problem of creating a disciplined and
regimented workforce should not be underestimated.
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Capitalists and state bureaucrats copied the ‘success’ of
industrialization across the western world, as they
sought to cash in on the huge wealth enjoyed by the
new British ruling class. The capitalist system, based
on the exploitation of the working class, soon spread to
Europe, and as we will see, to the rest of the world.
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Presently, capitalism, alongside its essential partner
institutions of sexism, racism and homophobia,
dominates the global economy, continuing to inform
and maintain the social relations within it. The nowfamiliar pattern of economic success being measured
by which country or capitalist can extract the most
profit from the workers under their control has its
origins in the transition of Britain from a feudal
society.
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Posthumanism
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Science will never achieve its
aim of comprehending the
ultimate nature of reality.
The universe will always be
more complex than we will ever
know.
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Posthumanism abandons the
search for the ultimate nature
of the universe and its origin.
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The post human realises that the
ultimate questions about existence and
being do not require answers. The
answer to the question “why are we
here?” is that there is no answer.
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To know the ultimate nature of the universe
would require knowing everything about
universe, everything that has happened and
everything that will happen. if one thing were
not known it would imply that all knowledge of
the universe is partial, potentially incomplete
and therefore not ultimate.
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No scientific model will ever be
complete, but will always be
partial and contingent.
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The post human accepts that
humans have a finite capacity to
understand and control nature.
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Logic that seems consistent at the
human scale cannot necessarily be
applied to microcosmic or the
macrocosmic scale.
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All origins are ends and
all ends are origins
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Our knowledge about the universe is
constrained by the level of resolution
with which we are able to view it.
Knowledge is contingent on data---data varies with resolution.
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Nature is neither essentially ordered or
disordered.
The appearance of order or disorder implies
more about the way in which we process the
information than the intrinsic presence of
order or disorder in nature.
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Science work on the basis of intrinsic universal
order but posthumanism accepts that laws are
not things that are intrinsic to nature, nor are
they things which arise purely in mind and are
imposed on nature; as this would reinforce the
division between the mind and reality which has
already been abandoned. The order as well as
disorder that is perceived around us is not a
function exclusively of either the universe or our
consciousness, but a combination of both as
they cannot really be separated.
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Everything that exists anywhere is energy.
It manifests in infinite variety of ways.
It perpetually transforms itself.
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The appearance of matter is an
illusion generated by interactions
among energetic systems at the
human level of resolution.
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Humans and the environment are
different expressions of energy; the
only difference between them is the
form that energy takes.
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The post human is entirely open to ideas of
‘paranormality’, ‘immateriality’, the
‘supernatural’, and the ‘occult’. The posthuman
does not accept that the faith in scientific
method is superior to faith in other belief
systems.
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Statements on uncertainty
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The humanist era was characterized by
certainty about the operation of the universe
and the place of humans within it. The
posthuman era is characterized by uncertainty
about the operation of the universe and about
what is to be human.
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• The Posthuman era , the age of uncertainty , was
born in the period leading up to first world war
since it was the time the quantum mechanics and
cubism were developed.
“…There are no things, just
probabilities…”
--Heisenberg
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Definition of Cyborgs
 A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid machine
and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a
creature of fiction. A Cyborg adds to or enhances its
abilities by using technology and it combines the
natural and the artificial into one form.
 Term coined by Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S.
Kline in 1960 to describe a lab rat with an osmotic
pump programmed to dispense chemicals
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Cyborgs as we imagine them…A complete cyborg in a
popular anime series.. ghost in the shell…
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Fictional cyborgs are frequently portrayed with a fine granularity mixture of
organic and mechanical (synthetic) parts, such as the BORG in the Star Trek
franchise
BORG in Star Trek
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From one perspective, a cyborg world is about the final
imposition of a grid of control on the planet, about the
final abstraction embodied in a Star Wars apocalypse
waged in the name of defense, about the final
appropriation of women’s bodies in a masculinity orgy
of war
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From another perspective, a cyborg world might be
about lived social and bodily realities in which people
are not afraid of their joint kinship with animals and
machines, not afraid of permanently partial identities
and contradictory standpoints.
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A Cyborg in the real world
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Subjectivity as a Cyborg
 MEANING OF SUBJECTIVITY
It is a condition of being a person and process by which we
become a person.
How we are constituted as subjects both biologically and
culturally and how do we experience ourselves
 SUBJECTIVITY AS A CYBORG
It basically means posing the question “what is a Cyborg?”
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Identity in the Cybernetic age
 These days we are very busy construction something called a technological
Imaginary. Now this imaginary is driven by the exciting probability of mastery
of human beings over all the physical, sociological and moral constraints that
define our cultural lives.
 Identities thus become recomposable, self-designed in a mix and match
fashion, i.e. the constraints of the real world and the fleshy body are overcome
in the artificial domain
 The excitement of virtual existence comes from the sense of release and
liberation from the material world. In a world spoiled over-development, overpopulation and environmental poisons, it is comforting for the human mind to
think that it can exist in cyber space untouched by by these physical decays and
corruption
 So basically, the cybernetics age marks the end of identity
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Who/What is a Cyborg?
 do you wear a prosthesis? e.g., do you wear contact lenses






or eyeglasses?
do you take any medications?
have you ever had an immunization?
do you depend upon any form of technology for
transportation?
how would your life be affected if the power grid was shut
off permanently?
do you ever eat food or drink water that has been
processed?
in short, how intimately tied are you to technology?
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If your answer to any of the above questions is
YES
Then you are a cyborg………
This is the broadest possible definition of a Cyborg
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Bio-medical Cyborgs
 Cyborg technologies used to replace lost or impaired
biological functions
 Pacemakers
 Artificial hips and other joints
 Prosthetic limbs
 Cochlear implants
 Artificial skin and other organs
‘The elderly in society are becoming the first cyborgs’
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Bio-medical Cyborgs
 humans/animals born as a result of reproductive
technologies including genetic engineering
 pharmacological cyborgs - drugs used to optimise or
enhance normal biological functions
eg. sports medicine
 Cosmetic surgery
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Examples of Cyborgs
 Cyborg technologies used to amplify and extend
human capacities
 For example, the kinds of melding of machine and
human that we see in VR technologies (eg fighter pilot
training)
 Telepresence technologies
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The Cyborg and the Post human
 Cyborg discourses are linked with the concept of the
posthuman.
 Our cyborg technologies are giving us the capacity to
intervene in our own evolution both through
technological augmentation and genetic engineering.
 The re-design of the human is leading us into the realms
of the posthuman and its associated unstable boundaries
and shifting identities.
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What theorists say
Marshall McLuhan
"All media are extensions of some human faculty - physic or physical.”
McHugh (quoted in Gray reading)
"Soon perhaps, it will be impossible to tell where human ends and machines
begin."
Donna Haraway
"We are all cyborgs."
Figuratively, we are "living through a movement from an organic, industrial
society to [society as] an ...information system".
[i.e. humans are being re-crafted by biological and communications
technologies.]
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Futurologist Alvin Toffler:
“…soon, miniaturised computers "will not only be implanted to
compensate for some physical defect but eventually will be implanted
to enhance human capability. The line between human and computer
at some point will become completely blurred.”
N. Katherine Hayles
According to Hayles we are moving from the human-machine hyphen
where the human is connected to the machine, to the human/machine
splice where the human and the machine extend into each other and
there is no clearly distinguishable boundary between them
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Steve Mann
 Steve Mann has been
working on wearable
computing technologies
since the 1970s
 Developed Wear Comp
and Wear Cam
technologies
 Worked at MIT from
1991. Now works at
University of Toronto.
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Kevin Warwick
Kevin Warwick, Professor
of Cybernetics at the
University of Reading,
UK, has implanted
computer chips into his
arm allowing him to
communicate with a
computer.
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Cyborgs in art: Stelarc
 performance artist Stelarc has used technology in a
variety of ways to amplify and extend his physical body
“The Third Hand”
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Stelarc
 It is no longer a matter of perpetuating the human
species by reproduction but of enhancing the
individual by redesigning. Male female intercourse is
replaced by human machine interface...We are at the
end of human physiology.
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Stelarc
 “It is time the question whether a bipedal [two legged], breathing
body with binocular vision and a 1400 cc brain us an adequate
biological form. It cannot cope with the...information it has
accumulated. The most significant planetary pressure is no longer
the gravitational pull but the information thrust. Gravity has
moulded the evolved body in shape and structure and contained it
on the planet. Information [technology] propels the body beyond
itself and its biosphere. Information fashions the form and function
of the post evolutionary body”
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Stelarc
 ...altering the architecture of the body [allows it to be]
amplified and accelerated, attaining planetary escape
velocity. It becomes a post-evolutionary projectile.
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Stelarc - Movatar
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Stelarc - Extra Ear
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Stelarc - Prosthetic Head
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LOGIC
 Logic is an idealised self-referential system developed
by human imagination.

There are a few things that are less logical in
behaviour than humans.

There are a few things that
work on only logic.
eg: Machines.
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MACHINES

Machines use logic. And they are restricted
to using only logic.
 These machines will never display human
charecteristics.
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As an example…

Computers use logic. Currently the output
of the computers is predictable.
 The posthuman era begins in full when the output of
computers is unpredictable.
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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.
 AI is the creation of synthetic persons and
intelligences


There were attempts to build synthetic
humans and intelligence out of machines
starting in the 17th century.
The term A.I. was coined
by Prof. John McCarthy,
now at Stanford, in 1956.
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 Now A.I. seems to a dusty, meandering subject, with
important milestones few and far between.

A recent milestone was a chess computer
that could beat that top chess master
regularly in 1996.
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
Most artificial intelligence machines are
hermetically sealed. They are limitted by
the complexity of the calculations our
machines can perform.
 They are only sensitive to a finite
number of stimuli and the quotient of
randomness intruding upon them is
relatively small.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10

Human thought is not a hermetic linear
system.

Mind, body and environment cannot be
separated.

We cannot rule out the impact
of any environmental stimuli
on the thought process, no
matter how minute it might
be.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The mind receives a continuous input of random
stimuli from the environment.

It has evolved to absorb the unexpected-the
discontinuous stimulus.

The compulsion to assert order in the face of
random stimuli contributes to our sence of
being.

This is absent in the case of synthetic
beings.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10

Therefore if we are to create any synthetic
intelligence that has a sence of being like
that we recognize in ourselves, it must be
sensitive to the same level of random
interruption as humans.

It must have a compulsion to reassert
meaning in the face of both stable and
unstable input.

It should also be able to adapt to and take
advantage of the creative possibilities
offered by non-linear stimuli.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
SYNTHETIC INTELLIGENCE WITH CREATIVITY:

If we wish to produce a synthetic
intelligence that displays creativity, then we
need to be able to establish connections
between its thoughts in a discontinuous
way.

This will be achieved by making
it perpetually sensitive to random
stimuli.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 If we wish to produce a synthetic intelligence that
displays aesthetic appreciation then it should be able
to sense continuity and discontinuity simultaneously.

This would cause excitement in the
machine it is yet to be determined to what
extent it would be pleasurable.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Technology has always been an integral part of
mans conceptualization of the world.

Yet previously technology has been finite in
its ability to control itself.

But now we have brought technology to a
level where it can now be a synthetic mirror
of a human being.

Therefore it must be considered and worked
into philosophical calculations.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The synthetic mirror
does not only mean robots or clones or cyborgs - it
also consists of the
mirroring of basic acts that humans have done for
centuries.

Such as food-harvesting or growing…
The taking away of such things frees
man to do other things which have
not been considered 'integral to life'.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10

Synthetic technology is steadily surpassing
the importance of a single human being.

Most philosophy has been based on
the significance of 'a single
human being' or 'the relationship between
single human beings'.
 This will be based on the premise that man is now
evolving past the Technological Age, and instead, is
now moving to the Synthetic Age.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 This points to a necessary adjustment in
philosophical thought, to consider not just the direct
interplay between human beings, but, instead, to
make it a three dimensional model involving:

A single human - A single Human Synthetic Human (Technology).
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
STATEMENTS ON
(DIS)ORDER
&
(DIS)CONTINUITY
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Meaning of order
 In this present perspective order means state of being
carefully and neatly arranged
 Order and disorder are relative, not absolute, qualities.
 One cannot define disorder without order or vice versa
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
The perception of order and disorder is something is contingent on the
level of resolution from which it is viewed
Creationists see structured beauty created by an intelligent designer.
Scientists see the product of the natural forces
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
due to wind, turbulence
and friction.
 Perception of order and disorder is often culturally
determined for ex:religious conflicts arise due to this
perception
 Logicians explain disorder in mathematical ways by using
terms like entropy and complexity –ways independent of
human subjectivity
 These definitions may be useful in certain applications but
they remain open to relativistic interpretation
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 In Post-Human terms, the apparent distinctions
between things are not the result of innate
divisions within the structure of the Universe, but
a product of:
 the way in which the sensual processes in living
entities operate .
 the variety of ways in which energy is manifested
in the universe.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Energy manifestations perceived by an observer
can always be described with two simple
qualities - continuity and discontinuity.
 Continuity is non-interruption of space-time.
 Discontinuity is a rupture in space-time.
 Both are experienced simultaneously
 Energetic states will appear as either
continuous or discontinuous to an observer
depending upon their viewing position.
 Both are understandable, recognizable in all
events depending on how they are viewed
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10





The quality of discontinuity is context sensitive.
Things are distinguished from each other due to
perceived discontinuity which they display.
The difference in manifestations of energy
between things allows us to distinguish them
The difference between a two elements is due to
arrangement of atoms in them possessing
different energies
A human eye perceive different things due to
difference of energy reception by retina
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Post human ideology of order and disorder
 There is no intrinsic differences between things
 an organism will perceive differences since energy is
manifested in different ways and an organism is sensitive to
different levels of energy.
 varying manifestations of energy can be perceived as either
continuous or discontinuous, these qualities being entirely
relative to each other.
 The existence of order or disorder is, therefore, a function
of both the perceptual apparatus and the expression of
energy. Order does not exist separately from its perception.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 The level of complexity in a system cannot be defined
in objective (that is absolute) terms.
 Complexity is a function of Human cognition, not an
intrinsic property of anything we might look at.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
 Questions arise in the post human era that would have
not troubled us in the humanist era –what is a human?
Is there such a thing ?how should we perceive it?
 Can we use different energy manifestations to describe
the word human. This is what we have think in post
human era where uncertainty creeps.
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
Texts:
1. Chris Barker, Cultural Studies: Theory and Practice, Sage, 2003.
2. Andrew Edgar and Peter Sedgwick, eds, Key Concepts in Cultural
Theory, Routledge, 2004.
References:
1. P. Brooker, A Glossary of Cultural Theory, Arnold, 2000.
2. E. Hallman, ed, Cultural Encounters, Routledge, 2000.
3. M. G.Durham and D. M. Kellner, eds, Media and Cultural Studies:
Key Works, Blackwell, 2001.
Acknowledgments:
Google images, wikipedia, All Students of HS 214, IIT Guwahati
QIP CD Cell Project IIT Guwahati 2009-10
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Cultural Theory and Practice