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Posthumanism A Critical Analysis by Stefan Herbrechter

Posthumanism A Critical Analysis


Posthumanism A Critical Analysis by Stefan Herbrechter

What does it mean to be human today? The answer to this question, which is as old as the human species itself, is becoming less and less certain. Current technological developments increasingly erode our traditional humanist reflexes: consciousness, emotion, language, intelligence, morality, humour, mortality - all these no longer demonstrate the unique character and value of human existence. Instead, the spectre of the 'posthuman' is now being widely invoked as the 'inevitable' next evolutionary stage that humans are facing. Who comes after the human? This is the question that posthumanists are taking as their starting point. This critical introduction understands posthumanism as a discourse, which, in principle, includes everything that has been and is being said about the figure of the 'posthuman'. It outlines the genealogy of the various posthuman 'scenarios' in circulation and engages with their theoretical and philosophical assumptions and social and political implications. It does so by connecting the philosophical debate about the future of humanity with a range of texts, including examples from new media, popular culture, science and the media.


With apocalyptic voices about the human and humanism all around us, this genealogy and cultural analysis of our posthuman condition stands out as a very welcome alternative of thinking the end(s) of Man, demonstrating that the critical humanities are needed more than ever. -- Manuela Rossini (PhD), Institute of Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, University of Bern, and Executive Director of the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts Europe One welcomes Stefan Herberechter's Posthumanism to the posthumanism debates. His approach puts critical pressure in particular upon simplistic equations of technological prostheses and posthuman futures. Herbrechter develops an intellectual genealogy situating the varieties of posthumanism in relation to anticipatory strains in philosophy from Nietzsche to Derrida and in related critical practices of postmodernism and poststructuralism. Subsequent discussion ranges across posthumanist frontiers from matters of embodiment, the literary imaginary, disciplinarity, and digitalization, to the interplays of deconstruction and systems theory and of bio- and thanato-politics. Herbrechter's arguments are persuasive. His exposition is modest and lucid. Posthumanism will bring students new to posthumanism up to speed as well as sharpen scholarly debate. -- Bruce Clarke, author of Posthuman Metamorphosis: Narrative and Systems Herbrechter's critical analysis of posthumanism is a wide-ranging and ambitious approach to what is doubtless the most significant intellectual challenge for the humanities today. Herbrechter provides a lucid overview of complex but vital issues, avoiding the pitfalls of naive technophilia or apocalyptic gloom. Instead, his timely and stimulating discussion shows how a critical appraisal of the posthuman can help us to elucidate who and what we are at the beginning of the twenty-first century. -- Russ West-Pavlov, Professor of English, University of Pretoria Herbrechter's book is written with a sharp lucidity, and very much fulfils its task of being a critical intervention into the discourse of posthumanism. -- John P. Merrick * Review 31 *

About the Author

Stefan Herbrechter is Reader in Cultural Theory in the Department of Media, School of Art and Design, Coventry University, UK.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st August 2013


Stefan Herbrechter

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Bloomsbury Academic an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


248 pages


Western philosophy: Medieval & Renaissance, c 500 to c 1600



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