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Nootropics in Postmodernity:

What the Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze Can Tell Us About the Relationship Between Smart Drugs, Authenticity, Control and Fairness


Sean Blanchet, Sean Devine


Keywords: Nootropics, Smart Drugs, Human Enhancement, Cognitive Enhancement, Gilles Deleuze, Society of Control, Transhumanism, Felix Guattari, Ethics, Postmodernity, Postmodernism

Pharmaceutical products aimed at enhancing cognitive performance – smart drugs, nootropics, etc – have garnered considerable attention. Many ethical questions accompany their growth in popularity. Three of these questions will be addressed in this paper: Do nootropics preclude authenticity? Are nootropics a good thing for society? And, is it fair to use nootropics? We argue that these questions can be answered by appealing to Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s concepts of individuation, Society of Control, and dividuation. On the one hand, drawing on the concept of extrinsic individuation, we posit that nootropics have the potential to expand horizons, disrupt traditional human-object interactions, and allow users to experience their surroundings in novel, more authentic, ways. On the other, it also risks concentrating success in the hands of a minority of individuals and reinforce the normative power of the Society of Control. Ultimately, we suggest that whether it is fair, indeed ethical, to use nootropics depends on the control the user has over herself and her cognition within the Society of Control.

Sean Blanchet and Sean Devine are independent authors from Montréal, Canada. For correspondence: <> and <> respectively. The order of authors is alphabetical; both authors contributed equally.


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