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

Stan Kretler (
Sat, 14 Aug 1999 11:01:11 -0700

Max More wrote:
> At 06:46 PM 8/13/99 -0700, Brian Delaney wrote:
>>>> So, again, I wonder: why not "human," and
>>>> "humanism," or some ratcheting up of the
>>>> same: like "neo-humanism," or "ultra-humanism"?
>>> Indeed!
>>> Note that according to the Web page for a
>>> conference (follow links from
>>> Max More seems to have heeded your counsel.
>>Hi Stan,
>>Yes -- more like "the" conference for this list, by the way. (For the
record, he
>>may, of course, have come up with the idea years before my email.
>> Extropians are capable of independent thought, you'll discover!)
> For the record, I came us with "ultrahuman" several months ago,
> while thinking about my book and my talk for the conference. I
> was surprised and amused to see your use of the term immediately
> before I first used the term publically at the conference (though
> it had been on the conference program for a while before that).
> This isn't really surprising though. Several people have
> independently come up with "extropy" and "transhuman" (or
> "trans-human").

I, of course, was not suggesting that anyone isn't capable of independent thought! I may have been confused about which email Brian meant earlier. About a year ago, a group of us *humanists* :-) who had been discussing the issue of the human and the "post-" or "non-" or "ultra-" or "mega-" or "neo-human" were wondering what more heavily techno types would think about these thoughts, and so Brain, the only one of us who would happily transfer himself into a quantum computing device, discussed the question with a few people from this list. I had the impression you were one of them but I guess not. No matter. Sometimes the zeitgeist rotates a notch and suddenly ideas are just "in the air". (Actually, I'm curious who used the term previously. Since it's in the OED, a full entry would show this. I'll see if I can dig it up.)

Anyway, for us, the question of the merits of a new term had to do with changing historical circumstances. Something is different now in a *radical* way. Might it be that the essence of humanism is no longer appropriate for the changing historical circumstances? It's a rather difficult question, but my answer would be that yes, it is. But perhaps times call for a zeroing in on this essence of humanism, since the term and even the notion itself is becoming clouded by "flesh fetishists". If so, then either a reappropriation of the term, or a new term like "ultrahumanism" or "neohumanism" or "Urhumanism"(?) would be good. "Posthumanism" and even "transhumanism" don't make a lot of sense, *unless* the point is specifically that flesh is bad, because limited and so on. Of course, haven't we been through that issue a few times in the last two thousand years (The Reformation, for ex.)? :-)