Plurilogue: The Posthuman

Posted: June 27, 2016 at 6:30 am

Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman, Polity, 2013, 229 pp., 14.99 (pbk.), ISBN 9780745641584

Francesca Ferrando, Universit di Roma Tre

Rosi Braidottis The Posthuman sheds much needed light on a movement which, due to its relative novelty, is often misunderstood. The Posthuman is thematically divided into four chapters, each focusing on a specific connotation of the posthuman shift.

The first chapter, Post-Humanism: Life beyond the Self’, develops a criticism of humanism through different but related Western models, such as Protagoras sense of man as the measure of all things, the ideal of bodily perfection in Leonardos Vitruvian man, and the myth of progress and rationality in the Enlightenment. Such models are based on implicit practices of universalization and homogenization. Their subject is male and white, among other terms; the others, such as women or slaves, are the excluded, the pejorative terms diverging from the norm, the less than human. To use Braidottis words, in this type of cultural episteme difference spells inferiority (p. 15). In contrast, difference is the kernel of posthumanism, which recognizes humans in all of their varieties; the human is not one, but many. The openness of the posthuman deconstructs the fixity and permanence of the notion of the human itself; the human is no longer defined in a strict dualism against the non-human realm. Posthumanism is thus a post-anthropocentrism (the subject of the second chapter), which places the human species among and not above other non-human species, and implies a critical approach to humanistic hierarchical values.

It is important to note that Braidotti is not only a pioneer of the posthuman approach, but also one of the key thinkers of new materialism the term itself was coined independently by Rosi Braidotti and Manuel De Landa in the mid nineties.

With its natural-cultural continuum, Braidottis posthumanism is also a becoming-machine. Inspired by Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari, as well as by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varelas notion of autopoiesis, such a becoming raises issues of bio-genetics, information technologies and technobodies. Highly critical of technological reductionism, Braidotti is particularly interested in technologically mediated sites of embodied practices. Her

Achille

January 23, 2014

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Plurilogue: The Posthuman

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