Re: "Post-humanism": The right term?

Brian Manning Delaney (
Fri, 13 Aug 1999 10:12:05 -0700

First, apologies to Damien <> for the boned attribution in my previous msg.

Second, a response to his request:

I (really) wrote:

>> [...] term is the best one, if "post-humanism"
>> (along with "trans-humanism," though for
>> slightly different reasons) won't work?

Damien responded:
> I'd like you to give those reasons, because I
> prefer it to any of the others. I agree that
> superhumanism would be a horrible idea.

Here's the definition of "transhumanism" at

What do "transhuman" and "posthuman" mean?


We are transhuman to the extent that we seek to become posthuman and take action to prepare for a posthuman future. This involves learning about and making use of new technologies that can increase our capacities and life expectancy, questioning common assumptions, and transforming ourselves ready for the future, rising above outmoded human beliefs and behaviors.

A simple way to put my disagreement with "trans-human" (or "trans-humanism," with the same qualifications here as those added in the discussion of "post-humanism"), then, is: if the notion of the post-human doesn't make sense, than seeking to become post-human doesn't make sense either.

But that would be to take the first sentence of the definition only. To consider the rest of the definition: what's described looks like something I want to be, and am (as are most people reading this). Yet what's described looks exactly like the human (as the human was understood by the first humanists) nothing more. (One possible hitch is the definition of "outmoded," but that's a long complicated story, and probably not hugely decisive here.)

That's not a lot to chew on, but that sums it up pretty well. To put my objections to both "post-" and "trans-humanism" somewhat turgidly: The "human" itself is already the permanent "self-post-ing" of what we are (the "self-overcoming beast," to sound Nietzschean and/or Aristotelian). To be post-human would thus amount almost to being "post-post-human" -- not something I want to be (assuming no state of perfection is possible). "Trans-human" would mean moving towards adding that second "post-." Who needs it?

So, again, I wonder: why not "human," and "humanism," or some ratcheting up of the same: like "neo-humanism," or "ultra-humanism"?


Brian Manning Delaney
I still have to live, for I still have to think.
Sum, ergo cogito: cogito, ergo sum. -Nietzsche.