Posthuman Ethics in the Anthropocene, Utrecht University Summer School

24 March 2017

This course offers an introduction to contemporary debates around posthumaninsm and the so-called ‘posthuman turn’, as well as Rosi Braidotti’s brand of critical posthuman theory. The course will explore the extent to which a posthuman approach displaces the traditional humanistic unity of the subject, as well as the binary human/non-human distinction on which such unity is postulated. Starting from the assumption that we find ourselves in the era of the ‘Anthropocene’, the course explores different aspects of posthuman ethics, stressing the productive potential of the posthuman condition and advocating the ethics of affirmation.

The field of posthuman scholarship is in full expansion. The posthuman turn is triggered by the convergence of anti-humanism on the one hand and anti-anthropocentrism on the other. Anti-humanism focusses on the critique of the Humanist ideal of ‘Man’ as the universal representative of the human, while anti-anthropocentrism criticizes species hierarchy and advances ecological justice. Both these strands enjoy strong support, but they refer to different genealogies and traditions. This course rest son the French philosophical tradition of critical Spinozism, which defends a monistic Life philosophy based on non-dialectical processes and is best represented by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. This course explores the interconnection between the posthuman predicament and the condition of the Anthropocene. It argues for the need to develop a more ethical and more complex relationship to our planetary dimension and to our relationship to non-human others, both animals, plants and technological artefacts. The Anthropocene as a concept was coined in 2001 by Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, Paul Crutzen, to describe our current geological era in terms of human impact upon the sustainability of the planet. It was officially adopted as a scientific term by the International Geological Association in Cape Town in August 2016 and its official starting date has been set at 1950, the dawn of the nuclear era. Posthuman critical theory argues for the pertinence of posthuman ethics as a way of re-framing the question of life in the Anthropocene, striking a balance between vulnerability and affirmation. 

Organizing institution: Utrecht University, Faculty of Humanities (UU)
Course code: C30
Course fee (incl. housing): € 500
Level: Advanced master level
 
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