The Bloomsbury Handbook of Posthumanism two years later, by Mads Rosendahl Thomsen and Jacob Wamberg

By | April 26, 2022

The Bloomsbury Handbook of Posthumanism, edited by Mads Rosendahl Thomsen and Jacob Wamberg, consists of 32 articles organized in four sections: Paradigms, Ethics, Technology, and Aesthetics. It’s now available in paperback.

The Bloomsbury Handbook of Posthumanism appears in paperback in April 2022. It was first published in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic that is still a part of our lives. It gave rise to a feeling of human humility as the world changed rapidly in months. Yet, the pandemic also showed how technology made cooperation and combating disease possible to the degree that would have been unheard of a decade ago. Looking back, the dual focus of the handbook, which many readers have appreciated, on both the decentering of the understanding of humanity’s place in the world and the empowerment of humanity through technology, seems as relevant as ever.

Other things also seem more apparent now. Even in the relatively short span since we began planning the book, it is clear that the ecological agenda—covered in depth by Ursula Heise in the volume and present in many other articles—is inseparable from a posthumanist exploration of how humanity defines itself to other living beings, the environment, and the climate. While hierarchies will not cease to exist—after all, humans are the only political beings—the continuous consideration of how humanism must also be a posthumanism to be tenable is hard to ignore.

While technological development continues, the gates towards a transhuman future have not opened as many have feared. But one should not be mistaken that many resources are poured into research in radical life-extension by some of the most wealthy individuals on Earth. Should such programs be successful, they could radically change the perception of what it means to be human, as humanity’s unity would be at stake.

A less radical change that has taken speed is automated writing. Translations, customer chatbots, and many other forms of automated communication are moving fast. Even more so, the creative potentials of computers are being explored, again with sometimes remarkable results. Writing has been an exclusively human activity for millennia, but that may change and can only be understood in the theoretical framework of posthumanism.

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