How can world-building and creating fictional languages be used as tools for creating new identities? In this thesis, I will be considering the creation of parallel fictional realities as a strategy for developing transhumanist ideas of self.
I will connect the idea of world-building through language to games and, in particular, video games. By setting rules that one can voluntarily submit to, both games and languages create bubbles or parallel universes that have their own reality frame. To explain this, I will use games and video games as illustrations of realities that are created by rules and produce a "spell" that can be "broken". I will also review and compare this to Wittgenstein's idea of language games, and try to challenge the notion he puts forward about new words in Philosopical Investigations: "only someone who already knows how to do something with it can significantly ask a name."
Through reviewing various ideas on how language works, I want to investigate how it can be used as a tool for creating identities. How do we make subjective realities through language? Can we create new words that change our idea of what reality is? I will also review various ideas on transhumanism. Why is it important to move beyond individualist, static, non-somatechnic identities? What alternatives are already being conceived of and adopted?
To help me conduct this research, I will first use various existing languages as case studies, with a preference for non-western languages. How do they codify ideas about gender? How do they create concepts of self? An example could be Indonesian, which does not have gendered pronouns at all. Does this reflect the culture that is tied to the language?
I will also look at practices of creating fictional languages, also called conlangs. Fictional languages are often used as an exercise in world building. Using interviews with people who create these conlangs I want to investigate how creating fictional realities can affect a sense of self. Can your own parallel universe act as a sandbox for new ideas about identity? One strategy for creating conlangs is purposefully trying to subvert assumptions baked into the words of one's native language. These subversions can then be translated into new words and grammar systems. Is this a good strategy for uncovering hidden bias?