Two cultures of the posthuman future

History and Theory 58 (2):171-184 (2019)
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The posthuman has been looming large on the human horizon lately. Yet there is no shared understanding of what a posthuman future could possibly mean, and the tension between a technological‐scientific prospect of posthumanity and the critical posthumanist scholarship of the humanities is growing palpable. Whereas the former harbors a novel sense of historicity signaled by the expectation of an evental change to bring about the technological posthuman as a previously nonexistent and other‐than‐human central subject, the latter theorizes a postanthropocentric subjectivity of beings still human. In doing so, it extends the already familiar emancipatory concerns of the human world over the nonhuman, with special attention paid to the ecological other. Despite the occasional claims of critical posthumanism to bring humanities and technological‐scientific approaches to a shared platform, the prospect of technological beings of unparalleled power and the ecotopia of species equality do not fit together very well. In this article I argue that, in their present shape, technological posthumanity and critical posthumanism represent hardly reconcilable social imaginaries and two cultures of the posthuman future. My intervention is a plea for developing a more profound and mutual understanding of both. Instead of advocating particular agendas that nevertheless claim validity for the entirety of planetary life and the entire scholarly enterprise of knowledge‐production, we could invest more in efforts to come to grips with both social imaginaries and venture jointly into the creation of the conceptual tools of a new knowledge economy of understanding the rapidly changing world and our own (post)human prospects.
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Archival date: 2019-06-17
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