STEVE FULLER AND THE QUANTUM TURN (2): there is no default subject of history

The methodological and meta-ontological considerations that we examined in the last post lead to a renewed vision of history in terms of chronos vs kairos. Humanism is, as Fuller indicates, chronos-based, whereas post- and trans-humanism are kairotic. This means that humanism’s linear successive view of history as a human-centric narrative flow requires some unitary characterisation of the human to maintain coherence and plausibility. The more abstract the criterion of demarcation of the human the better, and a favoured candidate is that of language or logos. Deconstruction has made it its mission to cast as much doubt as possible on such logo-centrism, but without being able to agree on a positive counter-proposal.

This problem of deconstruction results from its abstraction and its tendency towards de-literalisation, both of which amount to a “de-cosmosisation” (to coin an ugly word). It is useless to fight logocentrism on its own, unworlded terrain.

As Steve Fuller points out Renaissance humanism was already trans- and post- humanist, because it countenanced a “cosmic conception of humanity” in which intelligent beings on other planets could be considered human even if their bodies differed radically from ours. Classical humanism, Fuller argues, is Aristotelian in its geocentric grounding of the human in the polis and the family.

According to Fuller Renaissance humanism was already in the process of overcoming the restrictions inherent in the overly grounded category of “human” by returning to a more Platonic vision of the human as characterised by its noetic force, whatever its corporal or material instantiation. This vision allows for a cosmic conception of humanity as a form of intelligence that could be found elsewhere in the cosmos.

Fuller’s analysis is convergent with Bernard Stiegler’s position. Stiegler seeks a median view between Aristotelianism and Platonism with his insistence that there is no noesis without exo-somatisation, which corresponds to Fuller’s notion of the “superorganic” as extensions and/or enhancements of the human, including both social and technological assemblages.

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2 Responses to STEVE FULLER AND THE QUANTUM TURN (2): there is no default subject of history

  1. landzek says:

    Are there authors that leave a possibility of human beings who do not fall into theoretical categories? I mean this to suggest that such theorists may be speaking only about a certain type; for example: apples are apples until we begin to speak of green or yellow as if all apples must be green or yellow or red. This leaving out the possibility that I just ate an apple, but not an apple that was necessiarily green or red or yellow. Or any combination. It was just an apple.

    Is there a theorist who leaves open the possibility that their theories are only applicable within the theoretical moment, which then have little to do with “the rest of the actual world”?

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    • terenceblake says:

      I think you should read the article, which deconstructs the category of “human”. As for your apple, you cannot eat a generic apple even if you can conceive of one. You may close your eyes, but that does not change its colour, or you may forget. If you don’t have the category of apple you do not know what you are eating, it could be your typewriter.

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