Post-humanism

Haraway, Braidotti, and Simpson merge nature, technology, and human into one.


Post-humanism is a fun one to wrap your head around, especially if you're a Star Trek fan and and find the The Borg pretty creepy (you're closer to them than you think!). It's a philosophy wherein - and this is it's ontology - humans are understood as inseparable from and equal to the non-human things in the world (e.g. cell phones, water, politics, etc.). It's a critical response to humanism which puts humans at the top of the proverbial food chain. Post-humanism understand the world in this way because - and this is it's epistemology - it de-centers humans and brings other non-human things into the foreground.


A leader in feminist, post-modernist thinking is Donna Haraway (1991) who wrote the essay "A Cyborg Manifesto" that celebrated the disintegration of boundaries between 'organic and mechanical' and 'natural and artificial'. It's a often cited idea in post-humanism; technology was/is so much a part of our lives that we are already cyborgs. (!)


My introduction to post-humanism


Braidotti (2020) describes a form of post-humanism in what she calls "Zoe": (ontologically or that which we know) spirit/human/non-human/nature/technology. “Zoe” is because (epistemologically or how we know) we live through/exist with and within connections to other people, other living things, environments, and technology. A week after I read this, I listened to Leanne Betasamosake Simpson's lecture on The Brilliance of the Beaver: Learning from an Anishnaabe World. Her stories of Amik (English: beaver) blurred the differences between nature and technology. She describes the work of beavers, building dams:

Amik is the one that works continuously with water and land and plant and animal nations and consent and diplomacy to create worlds. To create shared worlds.”(Simpson, 2020)

Beaver dams are technology. Technology is nature!


So yeah, post-humanism. Pretty rad way to think about energy transitions.



“We are very, very busy building a different world” - Amik (Simpson, 2020)


References and for more on Post-humanism:


Bolter, J.D. (2016). Posthumanism. In The International Encyclopedia of Communication Theory and Philosophy (eds K.B. Jensen, E.W. Rothenbuhler, J.D. Pooley and R.T. Craig). https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118766804.wbiect220


Braidotti, R. (2020) “We” are in this together, but we are not one and the same. Bioethical Inquiry. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-020-10017-8


Braidotti, R. (2019). A Theoretical Framework for the Critical Posthumanities. Theory, Culture & Society, 36(6), 31–61. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276418771486


Braun, B. (2004). Querying Posthumanisms. Geoforum. 35 (3), 269-273. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2004.03.002


Elton, S. (2019). A Posthumanist Study of Health and the Food System: Vegetal Politics in Toronto Urban Gardens in the Anthropocene. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1807/97445


Haraway, D. (2008). When Species Meet. University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis, USA.


Haraway, D. (1991). Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. Routledge. New York, USA.

- Contains her famous 1985 essay "A Cyborg Manifesto". You can listen to this essay in two parts: part 1 and part 2.


Haraway, D. (1985). A Cyborg Manifesto.


Simpson, L. Betasamosake. (2020, April 16). The Brilliance of the Beaver: Learning from an Anishnaabe World. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-brilliance-of-the-beaver-learning-from-an-anishnaabe-world-1.5534706


The Ethics Centre. (2018). Ethics Explainer: Post-Humanism. Accessed December 2, 2020 from https://ethics.org.au/ethics-explainer-post-humanism/


Weigel, M. (2019, June 20). Feminist cyborg scholar Donna Haraway: ‘The disorder of our era isn’t necessary’. The Guardian. Accessed November 29, 2020 from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/20/donna-haraway-interview-cyborg-manifesto-post-truth


Wolfe, C. (2009). What Is Posthumanism? University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis, USA. https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/what-is-posthumanism