[ExI] Posthumanism vs. Transhumanism

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Wed Jun 17 19:28:02 UTC 2009

At 03:11 PM 6/17/2009 -0400, Natasha wrote:

>Damien, good piece.

Just a fragment from an entire 1997 book, of course.

>However you are tired of academic nonsense, we
>(not necessarily meaning "you" per se, but your writings will suffice
>for you in this regard) do have deal with it because the very
>structure human enhancement futures is being built upon in learning
>institutions is a hack job.

Indeed. At the risk of being tedious, here's another portion from the 

The Death of `Man'

Foucault's most notorious contribution to the theory debate was his 
early rhetorical surmise that `man is an invention of recent date. 
And one perhaps nearing its end', perhaps due to be `erased, like a 
face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea' (Foucault, 1973, p. 387). 
Such antihumanist declarations, Kate Soper points out at the close of 
her own discussion,

           "do nothing to undermine the importance of the 
distinction, central to humanist argument, between the actions we 
choose to take and the processes we are subject to. There are 
differences of degree--and of kind--between the constraints upon us 
to breathe, to use money, to love someone, to obey the law, to join a 
political party or to go on a hunger strike--differences which no 
political or philosophical discourse can justifiably overlook." (Soper, p. 153)

Above all, we must be wary `lest by focusing on the philosophical 
"end of man" we encourage a passivity that may hasten the actual 
demise of humanity' (p. 153)--no longer a figure of speech, given our 
technological powers, but an appallingly literal possibility.

One possible route out of this impasse has been signalled by Peter 
Dews, a powerful commentator on Foucault and other gurus of theory, 
most tellingly in a sceptical survey of post-structuralist doctrine 
in France. It is a proleptic note upon which I shall close the first 
half of this essay:

           "If one were to attempt... to identify one development 
which would symbolize the distinctiveness of the [recent] French 
philosophical scene... compared with the entire preceding period 
since the Second World War, then the obvious choice would be the 
upsurge of interest in Kant [...which] indicates an appreciation that 
the Nietzschean assault on a repressive reason itself depends on a 
dogmatic conception of the relation between knowledge and 
pre-cognitive interests, that an unqualified hostility to the 
universal in the domain of ethics and politics has a profoundly 
menacing--as well as an emancipatory--aspect, and that a wilful 
self-restriction of analysis to the fragmentary and the perspectival 
renders impossible any coherent understanding of our own historical 
and cultural situation." (Dews, 1987, p. xiii)

Perhaps this is a cost we must pay (it might be said), since we can 
no longer agree that any coherent story of our situation, or anyone 
else's, is entirely complete, compelling, resistant to fragmentation. 
Dews entitled his essay The Logics of Disintegration, and projected a 
return to other (post-Kantian) ways of constructing our collective 
world than by deconstructing it. Is this truly feasible? Might there 
yet be logics of integration, of coding, of structure, to which even 
the poststructuralist, the relativist, the wary theorist might give 
authentic assent? Might, indeed, be *obliged*--precisely by such 
logics, codings, structures--to give assent?


and the rest of the book tried to do just that (at least tentatively, 
as of about 15 years ago).


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