Benjamin Bratton On the Ethics of Being an Object
In this lecture, Benjamin Bratton (University of California, San Diego) will discuss the ethics of being an object and what the pandemic should tell us about the biological reality of society
THE ETHICS OF BEING AN OBJECT: We may not yet be able to refer to the pandemic in the past tense. Perhaps the only thing more foolish than some of our ill-fated responses to the pandemic would be to refuse to learn any lessons from it. A source of confusion for many has been a necessary shift in the ethical imagination from a position that calibrates subjective moral will to one that recognizes one’s self and body as an object in a cause-and-effect relationship with the world. It is often presumed that agency and subjectivity (if not also identity) are interchangeable, but the consequentialist ethics of being an object (less a subject) works differently. Outcomes are not necessarily a mirror of an internal mental state. They are not directly dependent on public demonstration, performance, and ritual to affect physical change. The implications for other biopolitical and ecopolitical conditions, such as combating climate change, are decisive. In this talk, Bratton will consider an ethics of the object in relation to the epidemiological view of society made explicit by the pandemic and its implications for the politics of "surveillance", the medical gaze, and the conception of a viable positive biopolitics.
Benjamin Bratton's work spans Philosophy, Architecture, Computer Science and Geopolitics. He is Professor of Visual Arts at University of California, San Diego. He is Program Director of The Terraforming program at the Strelka Institute. He is also a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School and Visiting Professor at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture) and NYU Shanghai.
He is the author of several books, including The Revenge of The Real: Politics for a Post-Pandemic World (Verso Press, 2021), The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016), Dispute Plan to Prevent Future Luxury Constitution (e-flux/ Sternberg Press, 2015) and The New Normal programme book. Projects and Research (Strelka Press) from The New Normal, a speculative urbanism think-tank investigating alternative urban conditions and futurities (2016-19)