Introducing Benda Hofmeyr

Benda Hofmeyr is a philosopher currently affiliated to the Department of Philosophy, University of Pretoria, South Africa. She lived and worked in the Netherlands while completing her doctoral studies and postdoctoral research. She still maintains strong collaborative ties with the Radboud University Nijmegen where she obtained her doctoral degree in Philosophy on the work of Foucault and Levinas. Her research interests fall within the broad ambit of contemorary Continental philosophy (especially thinkers following in the wake of Heidegger with emphasis  on post-structuralism and phenomenology) with an enduring facination for the inextricable entanglement of the ethical and the political.

In her present research, she is reflecting on the entanglement of European and non-Western, especially post-colonial African philosophy and the possibility of a dialogue across these divergent yet fundamentally intertwined traditions of thought.

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Friday
Sep152017

John Doyle is awarded his PhD in Philosophy

 

On 6 September 2017, John Doyle (MD) was awarded his PhD in Philosophy prepared under Benda's supervision, with Prof Alex Antonites serving as co-supervisor.

In his thesis, What does it mean to be human? Humanness, personhood and the Transhumanist Movement, John addresses various aspects of the question, “What does it mean to be human?”. He approaches the issue from biological, philosophical and ethical perspectives. The emphasis falls on the philosophical and ethical implications of the transhumanist movement. Transhumanism is an intellectual movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally improving the human condition through applied reason, especially by developing and making use of widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. The contribution of the thesis lies in its critical consideration of the far-reaching philosophical implications of transhumanism on how we conceive of personhood. The fact that the meaning of being human has always inextricably been linked to mortality has implications for life-enhancing and life-prolonging technologies, such as pharmacological interventions and human cryonic suspension, which have the potential of fundamentally altering our philosophical understanding of the human condition. Following a review of bioethics, the notion of personhood was examined in philosophical, historical and biological contexts. The ethical ramifications of expected future developments in neuropharmacology, the concept of brain death and the eventual possibility of human cryonic suspension were critically investigated. In the final instance, the study considered the “bioconservative” criticisms levelled against transhumanism, concluding that these lack credibility, since they often  rely on emotion and intuition rather than evidence, logic and reason.

 

From left to right: Benda Hofmeyr, John Doyle and Alex Antonites

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