[ExI] Posthumanism vs. Transhumanism

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 18 18:40:53 UTC 2009

--- On Thu, 6/18/09, Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 18, 2009 at 7:10 PM, Dan<dan_ust at yahoo.com> wrote:
>> Okay.  I must have missed that post.  I recall a
>> discussion of "posthumanism," and pointed out what a friend
>> wrote about how it's received back in the 1990s.
>> Mainstreaming academics were focusing on "humanism" and
>> just adding good ol' "post" to it -- just like they bolt on
>> "meta" to terms.  My friend thought they should've been
>> stressing the "posthuman" in "posthumanism" -- not the
>> "humanism."  But whatever; it's hard to avoid
>> terminological confusion, especially when one is using terms
>> that others might try to define merely by looking at them.
> The real issue, I think, is that as an increasing number
> of
> posthumanist see well is that overcoming humanism means
> today
> embracing as well the scenario of a posthuman change.

That may be, but with the terminological confusion, I think my friend was right: these guys were (and probably still are) seeing the "humanism" part and homing in on that and their established usage of slapping "post" on views they feel have become outmoded.  Thus, when they see "posthumanism," they don't think, "What's a 'posthuman'?" but "What is outmoded in 'humanism'?"  (And some of them would be considered post-humanist in the sense of coming after and rejecting renaissance humanism, no?)

> In turn, classic
> humanism - in the European sense, essentially meaning
> secularised
> christian values and worldviews -

I think the US term is "secular humanism," but I'm not sure.  This is why I generally prefer to call myself an "atheist" and never a "secular humanist.."  I generally reject Christian values and its worldview -- which, of course, doesn't mean I'm uninfluenced by them.

>, besides being
> outfashioned :-),
> does not really seem up to the task of offering a framework
> to comprehend such a posthuman change.

Maybe, though some people probably would reject posthuman change not so much because they can't comprehend it, but because they have a position that comprehends it a certain way.  One neo-Aristotelean (I think; I don't recall him using the label, but he seem to argue from a neo-Aristotelean framework) philosopher I knew rejected posthumanism/transhumanism on the grounds that altering human nature would not make, so much, posthuman higher being as inhuman monsters.  It's not that he didn't see the possibility of such change going right, but that he thought the most likely path was for it to create immoral or amoral beings that would respect human or even posthuman eudamonia.  (I disagree with him, of course.)

> This was in fact my understanding of the original
> Transhumanist
> Declaration: "Transhumanism", I quote by heart, "comprises
> and is the
> modern form of what deserves to be saved of humanism"
> (e.g., the
> overcoming of medieval theocentric concepts of natural
> laws, the
> passion for knowledge, etc.). An Aufhebung - nothing
> postmodern, here,
> the term is Hegelian... :-) - of humanism

I would argue that a lot of the good stuff in the Renaissance can be traced back to the Late Medieval Period, but that's a debate for another time.




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