Doctoral defence: Ahenkora Siaw Kwakye “Transcendence, as a theme in theology and technology”

On 11 October at 18:15 Ahenkora Siaw Kwakye will defend his doctoral thesis “Transcendence, as a theme in theology and technology” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Religious Studies). 

Supervisor:
Professor Anne Kull, University of Tartu

Opponent:
Associate Professor Stefanie Knauss, University Villanova (USA)

Summary
This study explores the meaning of transcendence in religion/theology and science/technology. The effort involves analysing the “posthuman” discourses in selected religions, transhumanism and posthumanism. The study proposes two ways to perceive transcendence horizontal and vertical. Horizontal transcendence points both forward and backwards, focusing on interhuman relationships and one that exists between humans and nonhumans, referred to in the study as “nonhuman other.” Horizontal transcendence involves enhancements that recognise humans’ embodiment in nature. It, therefore, emphasises kinship with both living and non-living entities in nature. It involves moving beyond limits through research and the application of technology in recognition that technology as a tool is part of human nature and a gift from God. Therefore, technology should be employed for wholesome ends rather than harming the other for parochial anthropocentric ends. Horizontal transcendence facilitates team building, community, respect and cares for the other as one would do for him/her self by applying the otherself principle. The principle requires the individual to identify the self in the other, the human and the nonhuman other. Vertical transcendence points upwards, and it is an otherworldly focus. It represents the desire and vision to separate from nature through technology or divine means. Vertical involves a dualistic understanding of the human. The human is perceived as a being that can be enhanced through separation into mind/souls/immaterial from the body/material. Vertical transcendence includes notions and doctrines that ascribe privileged positions to individuals, groups or species and deny humans’ embodiment in nature. It includes transcendence ideas that treat the body with gnostic contempt and facilitate sexism, gynophobia, genophobia, racism and other social exclusive concepts. The research is in seven chapters, each conveying a unique yet collaborative discourse.

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