Posthumanism is an emergent philosophy. It is often thought of in two markedly different ways.
In Europe, posthumanism is understood as beyond humanism, and is the dominant secular, rational humanist philosophy. It transcends the ideas and images of the world of classical Renaissance humanism to correspond more closely to the 21st century's ideas of scientific knowledge. It mainly differentiates from classical humanism in that it restores the statue that had been made of humanity to one of many natural species. According to this claim, humans have no inherent rights to destroy nature or set themselves above it in ethical considerations a priori.
Human knowledge is also reduced to a less controlling position, previously seen as the defining aspect of the world. The limitations and fallibility of human intelligence are confessed, even though that doesn't mean abandoning the strong rational tradition of humanism. A branch of posthumanism that seeks to transcend these limitations is known as transhumanism.
Posthumanism in the United States
'Posthumanism' is synonymous with 'transhumanism' in the United States, as the traditional European meaning is largely restricted to university literature departments. Extensive discussion of this meaning of 'posthumanism' can be found in the article transhumanism.
While 'posthumanism' and 'transhumanism' are synonymous, the words 'transhuman' and 'posthuman' are not. According to one definition, a posthuman is what a transhuman seeks to become. Posthumans are "persons of unprecedented physical, intellectual, and psychological capacity, self-programming, self-constituting, potentially immortal, unlimited individuals." Transhumans, then, are persons who are on their way to achieving this stage, but who have not yet done so.
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04