For more than ten years, Ivan Callus, Manuela Rossini and I have been developing a theoretical approach we refer to as “critical posthumanism” (for more details see our Critical Posthumanism Network site).
- Before humanity
- Life, in theory
- Posthuman media
- Prefigurations of the posthuman
- Unlearning to be human?
- What’s wrong with humanism?
Critical posthumanism, in a nutshell, is about analysing the emergence of the popular figure of the “posthuman” and its social, political, aesthetic, ethical, pedagogical and technological implications. Apart from its popular “cyborgian” either apocalyptic or techno-utopian dimension, posthumanism poses serious philosophical questions like: what does it mean to be human? What is the role of technology within evolution and hominisation? Is a postanthropocentric world picture possible, desirable or even necessary?
These questions are prompted by the contemporary crisis that is shaking traditional anthropocentric or humanist values: the erosion of the idea of human “nature” and “humanity”, the legitimation of human “exceptionalism”, the (ecological and biological) effects of human acitivity on the planet (cf. the rise of the notions of the Anthropocene and biodiversity), overpopulation, depletion of natural resources, climate change, globalisation and migration, terrorism and religious fundamentalism, the proliferation of WMDs, the future of energy supply, social justice and the redistribution of wealth, the emergence and convergence of digital media and the rise of forms of artificial intelligence that threaten to move from a “prosthetic” to a “controlling” function. In short, all kinds of real and imaginary extinction threats.
Asking afresh what it means to be human in these circumstances usually takes on “futuristic” speculation. While taking these threats and opportunities seriously, critical posthumanism is also (and as a corrective to popular variants of posthumanism or transhumanism, maybe predominantly) interested in the “ongoing deconstruction of humanism” and critical genealogies and prefigurations of the “posthuman”.
My current projects are all informed by this conceptual framework.