Brains, Selves and Spirituality in the History of Cybernetics

"My sense of ‘posthumanism’ is thus more or less the inverse of how the same word is used in connection with transhumanism. The latter refers to a splitting off of consciousness from materiality, whereas I want to argue for a decentered analysis that foregounds the constitutive coupling of consciousness, reason, the self, etc with the material world./…/ Madness for the cyberneticians was just another of those altered states the performative brain could get into, as usual elicited by specific technologies of the self. Walter drove his robot tortoises mad by placing them in contradictory set-ups in which their conditioning pointed them to contradictory responses. He also cured them with other set-ups that he analogized to the brutal psychiatry of his day: shock, sleep therapy and lobotomy."

- Andrew Pickering on cybernetics, self and madness