humanising post humanism (was Re: In defence of humans)

>Thanks Diane Davis and Malgosia for your replies. Ta also to Bryan
>Palmer and Greg Coolidge who I think have made
>some very good points about the possibly flawed
>underlying world-views of post-humanists, and the tricky
>issue about applying all of this to some (pragmatic) attempt at
>social change: Bryan, I am in the same position as you. IMHO, the
>struggle is not helped by an increasingly alienated academic
>community and an increasingly ritualised academic discourse. I
>thought the "ultra-conservative" quotes made this point well...

They must of, mostly they have been avoided, while respondends have picked
over the more marginal and peripheral of my comments. Also, when in doubt,
use the obscurant pomo language, to problematize understanding.

It would be interesting to swap jobs for a while.

>I want to illustrate my disaffection with post-humanist
>thought with a couple of examples. Diane wrote:
>> Foucault was an outspoken
>> critic of humanism b/c such a thought...a thought that puts the "human" (but
>> who's?) at the center of all our contemplations...has a tendency to NOT
>> "all." It has a tendency to value a very select constituency. (Note,
>> colin's post earlier.)
>Mmm perhaps. But if I may, I still think the alternative is even
>worse. Take one avenue of post-humanism - deep
>ecology. The basic idea here is that we topple humans from the
>centrality of political and social concerns. This is replaced with an
>ecocentric belief of an eco-system which has a limited carrying
>capacity. But as Steve Bushell said, "these ideas originate in
>the same science which developed the capitalist technology
>responsible for the irreversible simplification of the world -
>the root of the present ecological crisis. The problem is compounded
>when the notion of carrying capacity is presented as the yardstick by
>which the constraints on human activity will be established.
>First, it retains a very humanist faith in the ability of scientists
>to measure and predict nature. Further, the idea could quite
>easily slip into the role of a new disciplinary ideology of the
>international ruling class."
>Diane also said,
>> Nancy describes a community that is not made up of self-determined
subjects nor
>> on the hope for transcendence or human immanence...
>> The members of a posthumanist community, Nancy suggests, find
>> communion across the exposition (exposing) of their own finitude: an
>> finitude, rather than an affinity of infinity or a communion of immanance,
>> becomes the very condition for commonality in Nancy. This community is
about a
>> sharing out among Singularities--Daseins MADE UP OF loose ends that will
>> be connected up. Community happens not across commonalities or working
for some
>> projected goal together but across the re-cognition that there is no
>> commonality to be MADE...that community is precisely what we cannot MAKE.
>Well let's take the example of another post-humanist community:
>"Cyberculture has all the makings of the perfect
>religion for the current stage of capitalism. It offers its members
>the smug self-satisfaction of being an elite at the cutting edge,
>ahead of the pack, while mouthing ostensibly anti-elitist statements.
>It contains the distilled essence of classical modernist
>progressivism: a single formula positing a past/present/future
>according to which a technologically determined super-reality is
>evolving itself, and us, into something wholly new, amazing and
>irresistible. Mike Peters:
>"All the ideological blather accumulated over two centuries by the
>word 'human' has been fixed fast by the hardening spray of
>academicism. It takes an extremely academicised mind to be able to
>train oneself to not understand what everyone else cannot fail to
>know, and what academics themselves, with breathtaking hypocrisy,
>know full well in everyday practice. But "academic" practices, by
>definition, exclude the very possibility of correction by "common
>sense". Step out into the night for just a moment, and it all
>"The negative connotations associated with the word "humanism" derive
>ultimately from the structuralist ideology which captured theory in
>the 70s and was retained intact in the post-structuralist turn of the
>80s. These connotations have passed onto the word human itself, and
>the upshot is that human beings are now understood by those who think
>of themselves as the most radical, subversive thinkers around, to be
>"Just because capitalists, ideologues, priests and revolutionaries
>have foisted rigid identities upon what it is to be human, does not
>mean that there is nothing to being human. If that one remaining
>intuitive allegiance goes, nothing stands in the way of a total and
>habitual warfare of everyday life."
>So - either post-humanists really do mean what they say, in which
>case they are in danger of abolishing our basic need to be human, or
>the posties are in fact screwed up humanists in disguise!!


The latter.

Bryan Palmer
Canberra - Australia's National Capital


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