The North and South American Forum for Social Criticism brings philosophers from all the Americas together to explore issues and topics in Continental Philosophy. Its purpose is to promote the vitality of this tradition and its ways of thinking in the face of rapidly changing democracies and the need for global dialogue and responsibility. The Forum is pluralist and welcomes contributions from all philosophical backgrounds
Monday, July 2, 2012
After Us. Perspectives on Humanism, Posthumanism, and Transhumanism - Conference of the North and South American Forum for Social Criticism
Transhumanism has become an almost
fashionable concern, due to emerging technologies such as genomic medicine or
brain-computer interfaces which allow scientists to influence and alter
processes previously deemed natural.
The most prominent expression of these new
possibilities is Kurzweil’s vision of the “singularity,” the irreversible
fusion of human life and biotechnology. But besides such recent developments,
transhumanism is a concern lying at the heart of many approaches in the field
of Continental Philosophy. On the one hand, Continental Philosophy is the heir
of the humanistic tradition, with its emphasis on historicity and personal
experience. On the other hand, continental philosophers radically question the
nature of what it is to be human, up to the point where humanism appears a vain
presumption of the subject’s dominance over the various forces governing nature
and the life world. Humanism, from this perspective, appears at once
indefensible and worth defending.
In view of this tension how can philosophy
contribute in any meaningful way to the social, political, and cultural
problems raised by the recent attempts to declare human nature obsolete? How
can it develop a strong and positive yet post-metaphysical notion of the human?
These questions concern the very relevance of approaches such as phenomenology,
hermeneutics, critical theory or post-structuralism (not to mention more
traditional ones) by asking for their capacity to engage in a form of social
criticism which would be on a par with the rapid, science-driven
transformations of contemporary society.