Posthumanism Glossary

Aug 1, 2019

AI: Programs that generate actions of non-playable characters in video games. This could be as the program telling a Goomba to run towards Mario, or as complex as giving non-playable characters specific ways they should engage in combat.  For this project, AI is not used as short-hand for all “artificial intelligence” (see entry below). 


Android: A fully mechanical entity that generally resembles a human being. Popular examples include Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, C-3PO from Star Wars, and 2B from Nier: Automata.


Anthropocene: Modern-day epoch in which human activities have resulted in mass extinctions, environmental disasters, and global warming. 


Artificial Intelligence: A consciousness contained entirely within a computer system. While not currently in existence, it is a constant element in pop culture science fiction, like Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Cortana from the Halo series, or J.A.R.V.I.S. from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For this project, the term references any machine intelligence. Though the abbreviation, AI, is often used in computer science, this project uses the full term so as not to confuse audiences with gaming AI (see entry above).

Capitalocene: Modern-day epoch in which capital/ capitalism is the prime pivot in mass extinctions, environmental disasters, and global warming.  


Cyborg: A human body with mechanical elements. A mechanical element could be something like a hearing aid, or it could be something more complex like an artificial exoskeleton.


Embodiment: the physical being of something. For example, my embodiment, as Anthony Dungan, is my physical human body. It’s my arms, legs, brain, and stomach. All of the physical parts of myself, and as Katherine Hayles puts quite eloquently, the “ground of being,” (5). For writing on embodiment, listen to our discussion on Transistor here (hyperlinked).


Materiality: The quality of something having a physical form. A printed, hardcover book has materiality, an E-book that someone reads on a computer screen does not have materiality.


Object: Any individual thing in existence. An object can be a person, a salt shaker, or maybe even a soundwave. 


Posthumanism: A theoretical framework for understanding reality. It not “anti-humanism” but it resists centering humans as they are now. Lyons and Jaloza propose that “rather than misreading “posthumanism” as the desire to transcend/go beyond the human (i.e. transhumanism), we would be better served to read the “post-” here as after or even in opposition to as we do with postmodernism and post-structuralism / deconstruction” (P. 3-4). 


Posthuman: A whole piece of our project is dedicated to defining what a posthuman is, check it out here!


Subjectivity: a sense of self defined by an object’s relations to other objects. It’s different from something like consciousness because it’s more advanced, more aware, and more complex. A dog has consciousness, but as good as dogs are, they don’t have a definition of self, who they are, and what they want to do with themselves.

Dr. Rebecca Richards (St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota) curates Thoughtful Play.
If you’re interested in creating your own project for Thoughtful play, contact