Compound Brain or General Intellect?

Paolo Virno’s Transindividuality



This article argues that dominant perspectives on transhumanism maintain a commitment to the autarkic, self-determining, isolated individual subject. As a result, transhumanist conceptions which attempt to overcome individual isolation and alienation, such as J.D. Bernal's "compound brain" reinscribe liberal-individualist notions of subjectivity in a transhumanist future. A transhumanist Marxism would need to offer an alternative theory of identity-formation, and this article investigates autonomist Marxist Paolo Virno's conception of transindividuality both to critique transhumanist individualism and to offer an alternative way of understanding individual subjectivity. With Virno's transindividualist conception of subjectivity in hand, we are better placed to connect Marx's theory of the General Intellect with possible transhumanist futures.