Post-Human; Post-Humanity; Posthumanism…

September 28, 2014

As was suggested in our first Architecture, Gender, Technology seminar meeting, a distinction should be drawn between: the posthuman; posthumanity; and posthumanism. If the last, posthumanism, can be related to ‘humanism’ and the enlightenment project (a belief in ‘man’s’ capacity for rational judgment and objective knowledge, and thus a belief in his ability to adapt his world toward his own needs and ends), then we can also relate posthumanism with ‘modernity’, and in this regard Hilde Heynen is helpful where she draws a distinction between modernisation, modernity and modernism:

“In this respect a distinction should be drawn between modernization, modernity and modernism. The term ‘modernization’ is used to describe the process of social development the main features of which are technological advances and industrialization, urbanization and population explosions, the rise of bureaucracy and increasingly powerful national states, an enormous expansion of mass communication systems, democratization, an expanding (capitalist) world market, etc. The term ‘modernity’ refers to the typical features of modern times and to the way that these are experienced by the individual: modernity stands for the attitude to life that is associated with a continuous process of evolution and transformation, with an orientation towards a future that will be different from the past and from the present…The experience of modernity provokes re- sponses in the form of cultural tendencies and artistic movements. Some of these that proclaim themselves as being in sympathy with the orientation toward the future and the desire for progress are specifically given the name modernism. In its broadest sense, the word can be understood as the generic term for those theoretical and artistic ideas about modernity that aim to enable men and women to assume control over the changes that are taking place in a world by which they too are changed.”
(Hilde Heynen, Architecture and Modernity: A Critique, 1999, p. 10).

H Frichot

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