Towards the New Paradigm of Existence, Human to Posthuman: Reflections on Subash Chandran’s A Preface to Man.
The term “Posthumanism” is a contemporary theoretical term put forward by researchers with disciplinary backgrounds in philosophy, science and technology and literary studies, for these groups, Posthumanism designates a series of breaks with foundational assumptions of modern Western culture. It claims to offer a new epistemology that is not anthropocentric and therefore not centred in Cartesian dualism. It seeks to undermine the traditional boundaries between the human, the animal, and the technological. The postmodern theorist Ihab Hassan coined the term and offered a seminal definition in an article entitled "Prometheus as Performer: Towards a Posthumanist Culture?". As its name suggests, a defining characteristic of Posthumanism is its rejection of the values held on top by the traditional Western Humanism. In the words of Rosi Braidotti, “From Protagoras’ assertion that it is “the measure of all things”, to Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, the privileging of the human instils a set of “mental, discursive and spiritual values” (13). This notion comes to form the basis for political policies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. Man is understood as an “intrinsically moral” being, functioning as a kind of vessel for perfect rationality and reason. Armed with these tools, man is capable of a limitless expansion toward his own perfection, and entitled to claim, as his own, whatever objects or others he encounters along the way. This privileging of man as the centre of everything is what Posthumanism aims to attack. Hassan says that posthuman does not mean the literal end of man but the end of an image of man shaped by Descartes, Thomas More and Erasmus. Braidotti in her book The Posthuman outlines that with the rise of ideologies like Fascism and Communism, Humanism started its ascending in the 1960s and 70s. Both these former ideologies represent a significant break from European Humanism: Fascism promoted a “ruthless” departure from the Enlightenment reverence for human reason, while Communism advocated a “communitarian notion of humanist solidarity” (17).
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