Philosophy professor to explore the posthuman in Hall Center Humanities Lecture Series

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

LAWRENCE — John Symons, chair and professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Kansas, will present "What Can We Teach Our Posthuman Descendants?" as part of the Hall Center for the Humanities' 2014-2015 Humanities Lecture Series.

The event will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, in The Commons at Spooner Hall, and it is free and open to the public. Symons’ lecture is sponsored by the Friends of the Hall Center.

Philosopher Nick Bostrom recently described the “posthuman” as an individual who has gone beyond “the maximum attainable capacities by any current human being without recourse to new technological means.” The concept frequently arises in philosophy, art and literature, particularly science fiction.  

In his lecture, Symons will discuss the posthuman, including what the term might mean and how we can talk to and think about our posthuman descendants.

Symons is a philosopher whose research addresses basic questions concerning the nature of mind and science. Born in London, most of his childhood was spent in Ireland. After completing his doctorate in 2002, Symons taught at the University of Texas at El Paso until 2012 before coming to KU.

His recent publications, including Special Sciences and the Unity of Science (2012), “Computing with Bodies: Morphology, Function and Computational Theory” (forthcoming)  and “How Computational Models Predict the Behavior of Complex Systems” (2012), have focused on the role of computational models and software on scientific inquiry.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Stephen Greenblatt, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Mary Oliver. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on the series, visit the Hall Center website.