Roden on the Posthuman & the Transhuman

An excellent and compact outline of some differences between posthumanism and transhumanism from David Roden here:

Posthumanists may, but need not, claim that humans are becoming more intertwined with technology. They may, but need not, claim that functions, relations or systems are more ontologically basic than intrinsic properties. Many arch-humanists are functionalists, holists or relationists (I Kant, R Brandom, D Davidson, G Hegel . . .) and one can agree that human subjectivity is constitutively technological (A Clark) without denying its distinctive moral or epistemological status. Reducing stuff to relations can be a way of emphasizing the transcendentally constitutive status of the human subject, taking anthropocentrism to the max (see below). Emphasizing the externality or contingency of relations can be a way of arguing that things are fundamentally independent of that constitutive activity (as in Harman’s OOO or DeLanda’s assemblage ontology).

So I raise Kevin’s thumbnails with a few of my own.

  • A philosopher is a humanist if she believes that humans are importantly distinct from non-humans and supports this distinctiveness claim with a philosophical anthropology: an account of the central features of human existence and their relations to similarly general aspects of nonhuman existence.
  • A humanist philosophy is anthropocentric if it accords humans a superlative status that all or most nonhumans lack
  • Transhumanists claims that technological enhancement of human capacities is a desirable aim (all other things being equal). So the normative content of transhumanism is largely humanist. Transhumanists just hope to add some new ways of cultivating human values to the old unreliables of education and politics.
  • Posthumanists reject anthropocentrism. So philosophical realists, deconstructionists, new materialists, Cthulhu cultists and naturalists are posthumanists even if they are unlikely to crop up on one another’s Christmas lists.

For more, see my forthcoming book Posthuman Life and my post Humanism, Transhumanism and Posthumanism.

 I’m left wondering what David thinks of a possible ‘inhumanism’ and how it might impact all of the above?

3 responses to “Roden on the Posthuman & the Transhuman

  1. Hi Michael. Cheers for the re-blog. Reza’s Negarestani’s inhumanism identifies the human in with social-inferential prescriptions underlying conceptual thinking and rationality. Since these are structures are generalized from a uniquely human case, it is straight down the line transcendental humanism. I’ve addressed its underlying philosophical assumptions in my paper on Brandom and Posthumanism here http://enemyindustry.net/blog/?p=5302 🙂

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