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The Posthuman [Kindle Edition]

Rosi Braidotti

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Book Description

The Posthuman offers both an introduction and major contribution to contemporary debates on the posthuman. Digital 'second life', genetically modified food, advanced prosthetics, robotics and reproductive technologies are familiar facets of our globally linked and technologically mediated societies. This has blurred the traditional distinction between the human and its others, exposing the non-naturalistic structure of the human. The Posthuman starts by exploring the extent to which a post-humanist move displaces the traditional humanistic unity of the subject. Rather than perceiving this situation as a loss of cognitive and moral self-mastery, Braidotti argues that the posthuman helps us make sense of our flexible and multiple identities.

Braidotti then analyzes the escalating effects of post-anthropocentric thought, which encompass not only other species, but also the sustainability of our planet as a whole. Because contemporary market economies profit from the control and commodification of all that lives, they result in hybridization, erasing categorical distinctions between the human and other species, seeds, plants, animals and bacteria. These dislocations induced by globalized cultures and economies enable a critique of anthropocentrism, but how reliable are they as indicators of a sustainable future?

The Posthuman concludes by considering the implications of these shifts for the institutional practice of the humanities. Braidotti outlines new forms of cosmopolitan neo-humanism that emerge from the spectrum of post-colonial and race studies, as well as gender analysis and environmentalism. The challenge of the posthuman condition consists in seizing the opportunities for new social bonding and community building, while pursuing sustainability and empowerment.

Product Description


"The Posthuman makes a vital contribution to feministscholarship across disciplines Braidotti s reading ofcontemporary issues is out of the box: challenging, encouraging andinspiring."
Feminist Review

"An important and generative step toward new theories andscholarship and a welcome addition to Braidotti s alreadyformidable canon."
H+ Magazine

"Shows remarkable clarity and concision even as it lays out highlytechnical, complexly theoretical, and deeply interdisciplinaryconcepts."

′′This is a rather startling work that requires heavyconcentration on the part of the reader to follow the brilliantthinking of the author. Rosi Braidotti, a contemporary philosopherand feminist theoretician, `makes a case for an alternative view onsubjectivity, ethics and emancipation and pitches diversity againstthe postmodernist risk of cultural relativism, while also standingagainst the tenets of liberal individualism.′ Throughout her work,Braidotti asserts and demonstrates the importance of combiningtheoretical concerns with a serious commitment to producingsocially and politically relevant scholarship that contributes tomaking a difference in the world.′′
Grady Harp, Literary Aficionado

"This is an exciting and important text, full of intellectualbrilliance and insight. It will make a major mark."
Henrietta L. Moore, University of Cambridge

"Braidotti′s exhilarating survey of the constellation ofposthumanity is lucid, learned and provocative. It will be anessential point of reference in future debates about the centralphilosophical problem of our age."
Paul Gilroy, King s College London

"Debates over humanism and post–humanism have been fought overfrom feminist philosophy to literary theory and post–colonialstudies. This latest work by Rosi Braidotti presents us with aclear–headed glimpse of some of the hard choices we have before us.Braidotti knows the philosophy, cares about the politics, andempathizes with those who have been shoved aside in these brutallast hundred years. She shows us how feminism, technoscientificinfrastructure and political strands cross, sometimes withsparks."
Peter Galison, Harvard University

About the Author

Rosi Braidotti is a distinguished university professor at Utrecht University and founding director of the Centre for the Humanities.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 729 KB
  • Print Length: 236 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 074564158X
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (11 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DXK354M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #109,507 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `The Roar on the Other Side of Silence... or, What's Left of the Humanities?' 27 Sept. 2013
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
THE POSTHUMAN is a rather startling work that requires heavy concentration on the part of the reader to follow the brilliant thinking of the author, Rosi Braidotti, a contemporary philosopher and feminist theoretician `who makes a case for an alternative view on subjectivity, ethics and emancipation and pitches diversity against the postmodernist risk of cultural relativism while also standing against the tenets of liberal individualism.' Throughout her work, Braidotti asserts and demonstrates the importance of combining theoretical concerns with a serious commitment to producing socially and politically relevant scholarship that contributes to making a difference in the world.
According to Braidotti, `Life'... is an acquired taste, an addiction like any other, an open-ended project. One has to work at it. Life is passing and we do not own it, we just inhabit it, not unlike a time-share location.' In her introduction she makes clear the purpose of her book: `While conservative, religious social forces today often labor to re-inscribe the human within a paradigm of natural law, the concept of the human has exploded under the double pressure of contemporary scientific advances and global concerns. After the postmodern, the post-colonial, the post-industrial, the post communist and even the much contested post-feminist conditions, we seem to have entered the post-human predicament....the posthuman condition introduces a qualitative shift in our thinking about what exactly is the basic unit of common reference for our species, our polity, and our relationship to other inhabitants of this planet.'

But after spending her book analyzing this construct, she adds toward the end, `I welcome the multiple horizons that have opened up since the historical downfall of andro-centric and Eurocentric Humanism. I see the posthuman turn as an amazing opportunity to decide together what and who we are capable of becoming, and a unique opportunity for humanity to reinvent itself affirmatively, through creativity and empowering ethical relations, and not only negatively, through vulnerability and fear. It is a chance to identify opportunities for resistance and empowerment on a planetary scale...Are we going to be able to catch up with our posthuman selves, or shall we continue to linger in a theoretical and imaginative state of jet-lag in relation to our lived environment? This is not Huxley's `Brave New World', that is to say a dystopian rendition of the worst modernist nightmares. Nor is it a trans-humanist delirium of transcendence from the corporeal frame of the contemporary human. This is a new situation we find ourselves in: the immanent here and now of a posthuman planet. It is one of those possible worlds we have made for ourselves, and in so far as it is the result of our joint efforts and collective imaginings, it is quite simply the bet of all possible posthuman worlds.'

Braidotti's Thought and writings are dense and take considerable time to absorb, to process. But this book holds significant conceptual information about our stance as living beings and deserves accolades for brilliance of thought. Grady Harp, September 13
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly, difficult and thought provoking! 19 Nov. 2013
By E. Talerico - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a terrific scholarly work. If you are looking for a book that describes Posthuman philosophy in simple language, this is not it. If you are not used to reading scholarly publications, be prepared to keep your dictionary handy!
Rosi Braidotti has written a sturdy and thought provoking text here for students of philosophy, science, and politics.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Perspective & Thought-Provoking! 31 Dec. 2013
By David J. Brown - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found this book to quite thought-provoking. The writing style is very academic, and may be a bit too so for some people interested in this subject, and Kurzweilian ideas about the future of human evolution, but I loved it. The perspective was refreshing and really interesting, I thought.
12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Esoteric philosophy for philosophy students only 21 Oct. 2013
By K. Bunker - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is not, in any straightforward sense, about "the posthuman" in the way that futurists like Ray Kurzweil and others (and many science fiction authors) use the term. That is, it's not a discussion of the ways by which future technologies might enhance and modify human minds and bodies to the point that the definition of "human" is called into question.

Rather, it's a book of dense, highly specialized philosophy. The branch of philosophy it discusses is tangentially connected to the "posthuman" in the sense described above, but only tangentially. This philosophy seeks to develop a successor to "humanism" as a philosophy, hence "posthumanism" (which would have been a better-advised title for this book). Posthumanism, or "Posthuman Theory" is allied to the field of Critical Theory, which is noted for its esotericism, its cryptic jargon, and, in the view of some, its navel-gazing insularity and detachment from real-world and common-sense concerns.

So don't buy this book if you're looking for nuts-and-bolts speculations about how future technology might enable changes to the human body and mind. For all intents and purposes, that's a whole 'nuther subject. This book is strictly for readers who are well-versed in the works of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Donna Haraway and their ilk. If those names aren't part of your everyday language, you'll probably find this book next to impossible to read.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Cultures, Version 1.1 5 Dec. 2013
By Mark A. Underwood - Published on
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The theme introduced in C.P. Snow's prescient The Two Cultures (Canto Classics) was a powerful one that continues to the day. The expectation that The Posthuman would reflect this ongoing process was confirmed.

As Braidotti says early in the book:

"The crisis of the human and its posthuman fallout has dire consequences for the academic field most closely associated with it -- the Humanities. In the neo-liberal social climate of most advanced democracies today, Humanistic studies have been downgraded beyond the `soft' sciences level, to something like a finishing school for the leisurely classes. Considered more of a personal hobby than a professional research field, I believe that the Humanities are in serious danger of disappearing from the twenty-first century European university curriculum (p. 10)."

This complaint, which is largely apt in this reviewer's judgment, is repeated often. It appears again in a largely appropriate rant against the current state of university humanities curricula:

"As the professoriate and students' representative bodies lost their powers of governance to neo-liberal economic logic, the Humanities dispersed their foundational value to become a sort of luxury intellectual consumer good (p. 178)."

The complaint is not overstated, despite the rhetorical tone Braidotti adopts here and elsewhere. The Humanities, especially as reflected in academia, have retreated inward. That retreat sometimes plays out as Luddism, sometimes as indifference to events in the broader technology- and globalization-driven culture, and sometimes as helpless bewilderment - typically manifested as a covert replay of some historical anachronism.

Braidotti is right about this, but, despite presenting scenario after scenario of how the humanities have been marginalized, especially in academia, she comes to an optimistic conclusion that some refocusing of the university community (as Clark Kerr's "multi-versity") will save the day (p.184-185). How did she arrive at that conclusion in the era of professional schools, credentials-driven lifelong learning and MOOCs?

As some reviewers have mentioned, the book takes a very different direction from Ray Kurzweil's rosy view of a science- and technology-enriched future. That by itself is not troubling, though it would been interesting to know her take on Kurzweil's optimisim -- which tries to co-opt or transform humanism into something of his own making.

More problematic is that she doesn't mention Teilhard de Chardin's Omega Point or Vermadsly's noosphere, even though she introduces the concept of "techno-transcendence" (p. 113) and tries to investigate more contemporary interpretations of subjectivity. Indeed, much of The Posthuman deals with varying threads in the subjectivity ball of yarn -- but most of these are themselves "humanistic." Perhaps Braidotti would have been inspired to kick it up a notch by listening to a few episodes of WNYC's Radiolab Radiolab: not because there's great depth there, but because some Radiolab expose fault lines in contemporary views of the biology of consciousness, updated views of memory, the implications of genomic knowledge -- and so on.

Braidotti responded to what she has experienced with analysis well worth reading, but one wishes that her experiences had been deeper and more varied -- before she began the analysis.

Her reportage on what she calls the "posthuman digital universe" contains occasional references that are difficult to integrate with her version. When she mentions artist Laurie Anderson's work in the 80's as identifying itself as "content-providing" rather than art or intellectualism, it's unclear that Anderson's work achieved any kind of synthesis (p. 181-182). In other words, Anderson may have been trying to align herself with a different, new persona, but since her work --- arguably -- did not achieve that synthesis, Braidotti's point is obscured.

Happily there are 15 pages of references, but, as one often finds in this sort of traditional large form essay writing, many if not most references are to books -- which makes it impossible in today's online world to rapidly check at least more recent primary sources. Readers interested in pursuing this topic in depth could have been aided by hyperlinks and more periodical references. (In searching for additional web resources, it was learned that Wiley is distributing this Polity Press book, but their web site doesn't offer much more than the usual summary of the book.)

Despite these -- Oversights? Blind spots? Irreconcilable perspectives? -- the essay did not disappoint, and it belongs in every collection which has a Two Cultures shelf. (That shelf should also contain Huxley's Literature and Science and F.S.C. Northrop's Meeting of East and West: An Inquiry Concerning World Understanding.)

December 2013 by knowlengr darkviolin
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